Thanks for visiting my vintage Hamilton watch blog. I like to restore US-made Hamilton wrist watches back to their original glory and share my experiences with other enthusiasts. Use the "Search" space below if you know what model you're looking for. Feel free to leave polite comments or questions in the spaces provided. Also check out my "watches for sale" on my Etsy site - the link is on the right, just below.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

1968 Dateline A-476

Hamilton had lots of models that came on a leather strap or a metal bracelet but there are handful of models that had a bracelet with both materials.  The best of both worlds?  Not in my book - I prefer a nice strap over a metal expansion bracelet but an original bracelet is always a nice find.

Take for example, the 1968 Dateline A-476.  It's an uncommon model and was only available for 1968 and 1969.

The Dateline A-476 came in a 10K yellow gold filled case and the bracelet was an option that came with an extra $10.50 price tag.  That's about $70 in today'd dollars and you pay a little extra for a metal bracelet on Hamiltons made today too.

You can't really tell from the catalog illustration that the A-476 has a strong black and gold theme going on.  It reminds me of my youth, as this watch would have looked great with my Service Dress Blue US Navy uniform.

Tucked inside the case is a 17 jewel 694A movement, basically a 689A with a date complication bolted on the front.

My project watch came courtesy of a fellow collector and it really looks sharp.  Like any fine watch, it needs to go to the spa every few years if it's going to be worn.  Eventually the oil inside evaporates.

The JB Champion bracelet has gold mesh surrounding what appears to be black suede.  The other side of the band is the typical expansion links one normally sees on bracelets.

With the crown and the crystal removed, the movement dumps out the front of the case.  This movement is in great condition.

Everything is cleaned and dried.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion.  It's off to the timer to check it out further.

Whoa!  It's running a wee-bit fast and the beat error is crazy high.  Fortunately it's very easy to adjust both factors.

There... not too shabby.  I'll leave it running a little fast as it should settle down eventually.

The dial and the oscillating weight get reinstalled and next I can put it back into the case.  I need to set the time forward until the date changes, then I can install the hands at 12:00 midnight.

Normally I lightly install the hour hand so I can see how much progress I've made when setting the time.  These movement just suddenly click when the date changes so I need to go slow enough that I don't overshoot midnight.

Well, I can't say that the watch looks that much better after a little TLC but it surely is now running as nice as it looks.  The hour markers have black stripes but they are hard to see unless the light hits them just right.  This is definitely a dramatic-looking watch and you're sure to collect a few compliments while wearing it.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hamilton W10 British Military Field Watch

Hamilton has a rich heritage of making military wrist watches, most notably watches for the American military in WWII but also for Canada and even Russia!  They also made watches for the US Marines in Korea.  Then, in the late 1960's through the 1980's Hamilton made field watches for ground pounders and slightly more accurate watches for US aviators.

However, Hamilton also made wrist watches for the British military - Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.

One of the mechanical wrist watches models is referred to as the W10, based on the markings on the back.  The same model could be marked 6B or 6BB, depending on if it was for the RAF or Navy - I don't recall which is which though.

What's interesting about the W10 is it uses the same caliber movement used in the US GG-W-113 wrist watch, the 17 jeweled Hamilton 649.

One of the hallmarks of a British military watch is the "broad arrow".  The symbol is an arrowhead, usually pointing upward and it indicates British government property.

Although 1970's watches really aren't my thing, I recently purchased a GG-W-113 project watch and I needed to replace one of the balance jewels.  As I was researching the 649 movement, I happened upon a W10 for sale and I wound up purchasing it.

You need to be careful with 1970's military watches, there are a lot of fakes.  I'll point out some of the features to look for to authenticate a Hamilton W10.

First off, the watch has a one-piece matte-finish case, not polished bright.  Close attention should be paid to the shape of the 0 in 10.  It should look like a long oval and not a round O.  The hands are a matte-finish and their shape is unique.  Notice the lume on the hour hand is squared at the tip.  The second hand is also matte finished.

My project watch is a bit beat up but it's not too bad and I think it will clean up nicely.  I was excited when it arrived so I wound it up and wore it for a day.  I noticed it was running very fast... about 6 minutes a day.

Here's another thing to look for, the spring bars are fixed and you should see them on the outside of the crown-side of the case.

However, on the other side of the case there is no sign of spring bars.

This watch is marked with W10 and a serial number ending with 73, indicating it's from the first year of production.

The movement comes out the front of the case.  Based on the crud around the screws on the ratchet and winding wheels, I'd say it's been a while since this watch was last serviced.  It's interesting to note that on the British 649, Hamilton removed the ETA caliber number that is traditionally stamped under the balance wheel.  On other 649s you will see 2750 stamped under the balance.  So if you need a part for the 649, any 2750 caliber will be a suitable donor.

The two dial feet are held by springed levers that press into the side of the feet when they're installed.  You just pivot them outward and then you can lift the dial off.

Everything gets cleaned and dried.

The L-shaped lever is the hack mechanism.  It engages the slot in the clutch and when the watch is moved to the setting position, the lever moves and touches the balance wheel - stopping the watch.  When you push the crown back into the winding position, the lever moves away from the balance and the watch starts running again.

The reassembled movement is noticeably cleaner and it's ticking away with good motion.  I hope the watch is running slower now that it's been cleaned.  Placing it on the timer will tell me for sure.

Darn - still running fast.  The amplitude is a bit low and the beat error is way too high.  First I'll go after reducing the beat error.

Moving the position of the hairspring stud on the balance cock adjusts the position of the impulse jewel relative to the pallet fork.  Once it's centered the beat error will approach zero.  1.2ms is much better and the watch has slowed a bit and the amplitude has come up - so that's a good sign.

A little more tweaking here and there and here again and I've got the watch running just a smidgen fast and the beat error is a more than acceptable 0.5ms.  The amplitude eventually came up even further after I took this photo.

WOW!  This watch turned out fantastic.  I brushed the case with 800 grit sandpaper while the parts were being cleaned and polished the crystal.  Now you can really see what a W10 ought to look like.  The circled T indicates tritium in the luminous paint.  This is an excellent watch - I can see why it usually sells for north of $700.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

1969 Dateline TM-5903

The end of the 1960's closed the chapter on US Hamilton production and started a new chapter of solely Swiss-produced movements.  The 1970's featured a new variety of interesting-looking models with newly introduced movements, including a second generation of micro rotor movements with and without date complications.

The first generation of Buren-made micro rotors were pink in color.  The new generation were silver in color.  Personally, I really don't care for the second generation design, and I'll tell you why below.

One of the 1970's models that I think is very unique-looking is the Dateline TM-5903.  It looks like it could almost be computerized.  It has a separate window just for the date below the main crystal opening.

The 1971 catalog showed it with a metal woven bracelet.

The TM in Dateline TM-5903 stands for Thin-o-matic.  The case is stainless steel.  The dial is grey and features long applied bars but I don't know if I'd call them hour markers.

Although this watch in engraved with a date from 1971, I'm calling this a 1969 model because the model id number ends with 69.

The case on the watch is polished brightly on the sides and brushed across the face.  This particular example shows a lot of scratches from previous use and I'll try to remove them while the movement is in the cleaner.

The case is a two-piece design and the movement and dial are held in the back.

The movement inside is a 17 jewel 630 movement and you can tell it looks a lot like the earlier micro rotors but it's actually quite different.  The second generation movements have an offset center wheel with an integrated cannon pinion.  The center wheel is the wheel to the left of center below that is held in place with a metal bushing.  The cannon pinion on these grades are notorious for becoming loose so the watch appears to run slow, even though the movement actually keeps good time.  Replacement parts are no longer available for these grades so if you buy a model that "runs slow" be prepared for a costly repair bill.

This movement is missing a dial foot screw.  I'll need to look for a replacement.

Under the dial is a cover that shields the components for the date complication.  It even has printing to show you how to reassemble it.

The date complication is surprisingly simple, as the hour wheel (not shown) turns clockwise it eventually turns the golden wheel to advance the date wheel.  The arm near the number four is an index to center the date wheel in position once it advances.

Once the set bridge is removed, you can see the cannon pinion to the right of the center.  It's the left-most wheel in the series of three setting wheels.

The first thing to come off the back of the movement is the large ratchet wheel.

Well, here's a surprise.  The click spring is missing and a piece of wire has been epoxied in place.  The click spring keeps the click against the ratchet wheel and keeps the watch from unwinding.  Looks like I'll need to replace the click spring too.

While everything is in the ultrasonic I will turn my attention to the bezel.  First I'll pass the front over 400 grit sand paper.  I'll use a flat surface to keep the brushed finish on the bezel running straight from side to side.

Next, I'll cover the brushed surface with tape while I polish the sides to a bright mirror finish.

Stainless steel is easy to polish but it gets pretty hot while doing so.

All the parts are cleaned, dried, and ready to be reassembled.  Did I mention how much I hate working on these movements?  There are a ton of parts and many of them are super tiny and easy to lose.

The epoxied wire is gone so I'll need to install a new click spring.

The same donor that provided the dial foot screw also provided a new click spring.  Now I lust need to make sure I don't accidentally lose it.  Springs have a remarkable ability to disappear into thin air.

Finally!  It seems to take forever to put one of these movements back together but it's running with a good motion.

Not too shabby.  I'll leave it like this.

Once the dial is back on I set the time forward until the date changes.  Then it's midnight and I can install the hands.

Turns out this is a very difficult watch to tell the time on.  The hands are small and the dial is grey so it's hard to see them and even harder to photograph them.  Notice that the bezel looks remarkably better now, all the scratches are gone.

Well, I have to say this watch turned out great but I don't think I'm going to pursue any more of these 1970's Thin-o-matics.  They really are a pain and it's luck of the draw if they will work properly.  I'll have to cross my fingers and hope the hands move as they should. If they don't then I'll have to take it apart again and try to tighten the cannon pinion.