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.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

1971 Dateline LA-5600

I don't often work on ladies models.  The market isn't as popular as it is for men's models.   I suspect there are several reasons for that.  First off, they are so small that they all tend to look alike.  Second, I don't think there are as many female watch collectors as there are male - although I know plenty of women who do collect watches.  There just aren't as many as there are collectors of the masculine persuasion.

Just because ladies models aren't as collectible, doesn't mean that they aren't equally interesting.  In fact, I find ladies models to be extremely challenging because they are so small.  That's the main reason I don't work on them... they're more difficult.

I recently took on an interesting project though.  When I looked on eBay for comparisons, I found that this particular model sells for "good money" - well north of $200.  It's a ladies dive watch, the 1971 Dateline LA-5600.  It was produced for a couple of years and sold originally for $110.

My project watch has a definite issue.  When I wind it the hands just whirl around.  I found that sometimes I could wind it and it would run but other times the hands just spin.  That tells me the escapement isn't being engaged but the issue could be anywhere in the train.

From the outside the watch the looks like it could be a man's model.  However the size of my fingers give you a perspective that this watch is actually quite small.   There's little lume missing from the second hand but other wise the watch looks like it should clean up well.

The watch was originally rated for 600ft although I would keep this and any vintage watch away from water.  The number 79004-3 is the model number for the Dateline LA-5600.

Although it's not shown in the catalog, I suspect this is the original bracelet.  It's definitely a Hamilton bracelet anyway.

Did I mention this watch was small?  Here it is next to a penny.

Inside the case is a 17 jewel Hamilton 693 movement.  You might be able to tell by the shape of the rotor that this is an ETA movement, based on the ETA 2551.

Once the movement is outside of the case, it turns out the movement is actually smaller than a penny. That's really impressive... an automatic movement with a date complication that smaller than a penny!

Without a dial, the movement looks very similar to a men's movement.  The process from here is just like a larger movement - only everything is a lot smaller.

I go to my light tent to remove the spring-loaded parts.  That way I won't lose them.

Without the oscillating weight and it's framework in the way, you can see the back of the movement looks like a typical ETA movement too.

Everything gets cleaned and dried.

Well, I found out why the movement wasn't working.  The 4th wheel in the center of the movement has too much end shake.  It's what the second hand attaches too.  It slides easily up and down and can come disengaged from the escape wheel, causing all the mainspring energy to release.  I'm not sure what the issue is... it could be the wheel, it could be the main plate and it could be the train bridge.  I suspect it's the wheel or the main plate - years without lubrication may have worn the bearing surfaces down.  This watch is not jeweled at the center.

As long as the as 4th wheel is in the correct spot the watch will run.

Not too shabby... if the second hand would hold the 4th wheel in the correct position this watch could stand a chance of working but any end movement at all will either stop the watch or release the mainspring.

Putting the parts back onto the front of the movement is a bit tricky because they are so small but time and patience prevail eventually.

Although the watch runs, I'll need to replace a few parts in order to get it back into wrist-worthy condition.  However, it looks like it will be a great little watch once I get it ship-shape again.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

1956 Landon B

B-models were typically used (starting in the 1950's) when a model got a movement change that required a different case.  So you will see a lot of B models in the 1952 timeframe when Hamilton transitioned from 14/0 sized movements to 12/0 movements.  You will see them again in the 1956 timeframe when Hamilton introduced the 12/0 sized 770 movement that replaced the 8/0 sized movement in some models.  If the 770 replaced an earlier 12/0 movement like a 753 or 754, the model name stayed the same, since the case didn't have to change.

In those situations the regular model came first and then the B model came later... for example the Austin was followed by the Austin B and the Parker was followed by the Parker B.  There are a buck of models like that and, with a coupe of exceptions, you can't tell a B model from the earlier model from the outside.

However, in 1956 there were also a variety of B models that were introduced when Hamilton decided to discontinue the Hamilton Illinois line.  The Illinois line was introduced to test the market - and see if Hamilton buyers would turn up their noses at Swiss-made movements.  First it was the Illinois line, then the Hamilton Illinois line and, when all hell didn't break loose, Swiss movements entered the Hamilton line.

But what to do about all the extra Illinois-branded movements in inventory?   Well, use them up in B-models and once they're exhausted switch over to new Hamilton-branded Swiss-made movements.  A good example is the 1956 Landon B.  It was made for only one year and then in 1957 & 58 it was known as the Landon.

It's interesting to note that the two models are almost identical but they're not completely the same.  Other than the movement inside, the only other difference is the Landon B has dots at the even numbered hours and the Landon has wedge-shaped markers.  The prices were the same though but they did have different product numbers for the strap and bracelet-equipped options.

Knowing how to spot the difference between a Landon B and a Landon, you can quickly determine that my project watch is a Landon.  You might also be able to tell that the crown is an obvious replacement.

The case on the watch looks really good - almost unworn.

The casebook has the classic 12/0 sized cutout and is clearly marked Landon "B" inside.  The number inside the case is a unique serial number for the watch and doesn't mean anything other than there's probably a Landon B out there somewhere with a serial number ending in 486 or 488.

The movement inside the Landon B is an Illinois branded ETA 1220.  It didn't get any special markings other than the Illinois name.  The TXD on the balance cock is the import code for Illinois so all Hamilton Illinois movements have TXD on them, regardless of grade.

Notice how long the stem tube on the crown is.  That means the stem on the movement is very short and I'll have to find a better looking dress crown with a long tube or I'll need to replace the stem too.

Most Swiss-made movements are stamped under the balance with the makers mark in a shield and the number of the caliber.  If you look closely you can make out ETA and 1220.

Everything is taken apart and cleaned.  It's been a while since I've worked on a basic manual winding movement - so this is like a mini-watchmaking vacation for me.

Although the listing for this movement said it was "serviced", I think the parts look a lot shinier now than when I started.  I think some people think "serviced" means additional oil has been applied to the jewels.  The watch is now properly overhauled now so it's time to see what the timer thinks of it.

Well, not too shabby but the beat error of 3.9ms is a little higher than my upper spec limit.  The closer to zero the better, below 1 is good and between 1 and 3 I'll live with.  Unfortunately, although this is an ETA movement and usually ETA movements are easy to adjust, this is an earlier ETA grade and it's even more difficult to adjust than US-made Hamilton movements.  The regulator fork need to be opened in order to free the hair spring and the closed after the adjustment - so that's two great opportunities to screw up the hairspring if you're not extremely careful (or even if you are).

Phew!  I was able to dial in the beat error to under 1.0 and that's plenty good for me.  I can easily slow it down now.

Now, what to do about the crown?  I don't have a replacement stem but what I did find is a stem extender.  This sort of solution rarely fits the bill but it's perfect for this scenario.  I just thread the extension onto the existing stem and them trim the extension to the proper length for the new crown.

I don't know about you but I think the new crown makes all the difference in the world on this watch. It looks great now.  Of course, a little polishing and a nice strap didn't hurt.  I believe the dial on this watch is original and the toning in the corners is just enough to give this 60 year old watch a dignified, authentic, vintage watch look.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

1913 Hamilton 972 Pocket Watch for NAWCC 75th Jubilee

I try not to do repeat posts of models that I've done in past but I make exceptions when I have a good reason.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, or the NAWCC.  This organization is a tremendous resource for horologists and collectors from all over the world.  They are marking this noteworthy anniversary with a "For All Time" celebration.

The NAWCC is worth supporting and I started a "gofundme" campaign to raise $5,000 on behalf of "the friends of Hamilton Chronicles" over the month of June.  The month is half over and I'm almost halfway to my goal.  Can you help me get there?

Donations are 100% tax deductible, you'll get a receipt from PayPal for your records.  I get nothing from the campaign, other than the satisfaction of knowing I've developed friendships with fellow Hamilton collectors all over the world.

However, to sweeten the deal, I'm going to raffle off the watch in this post as part of the campaign.  Every $25 donation is a chance to win.  Donate multiples of $25 for multiple chances to win.  It all goes to a good cause and you've got a much better chance of winning this watch than you do of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightening - so that's something to consider too.

The watch in question is over a 100 years old and it dates to a time when Hamilton was known as the "the watch of railroad accuracy".  Wrist watches were "for women" - and no self-respecting man of distinction would be without a fine pocket watch.  There were none finer than a Hamilton.

There were a surprising number of different grades of pocket watches in 1913.  Men's models started at 12 Size and went through 18 Size.  Grades offered a minimum of 17 jewels and went through 19, 21 and 23 jewel variants.

The 972 was an excellent mid-level pocket watch.  It was "railroad approved" on some smaller regional lines as long as it met the dial and hand requirements.  You could also get it in a configuration for a hunting case, and that would make it a 973.  Back in 1913 you would select a movement and then a separate case.  The jeweler would then complete the assembly for you.

My project watch is in very nice overall condition.  The dial has a couple of hairlines and tiny fleabite  by the 50 second mark but otherwise it looks terrific.

The case shows no wear through at all and the bow is stiff.  So I don't think this watch got a lot of regular use.

The movement looks great and the jewel settings are fairly bright.  That means this watch was probably serviced at some point in the last 10 years, I bet.

This watch predates the jewelry standard of "filled gold".  I don't think it's solid gold but it's definitely very heavy gold filled at a minimum.

The movement is missing two of the three dial feet.  That was unexpected.  A donor movement will provide the needed spares.

This watch is negative set, so the sleeve in the case holds the watch in the winding position.  Once the movement is outside of the case, the springs under the dial move the watch into the setting position.

The screw holding on the balance cock is an obvious replacement.  It doesn't match the head design of the other bridge screws.

Up until the mid 1930's, Hamilton marked all of the main bridges with the serial number of the movement.  That makes it easy to spot if a part gets swapped.

The mainspring inside the barrel is a blue steel variety.  It could be okay but I'm willing to bet it has set and needs to be replaced.

Sure enough, the mainspring is still a tight coil, relatively speaking.

A new white alloy mainspring will make a big difference in how long the watch runs on a full wind.  They come pre-coiled and you get one chance to get them into the barrel - otherwise you have to rewind them.  Pocket watch mainsprings can really pack a wallop and you need to be careful when unraveling them.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  A pocket watch takes up a lot of real estate when it's all laid out.

Here's an oblong shot of the difference between the old mainspring (left) and the new spring on the right.  There's also an old 6/0 size mainspring in the gutter on the extreme right, for comparison.

It took a couple of tries but I finally got the mainspring into the barrel with the t-end lined up correctly.

The train wheels are all in place and I'm ready to put the barrel bridge back in place.

With the pallet fork in place, the movement is now ready to be wound up.  Then I can install the balance.

The best way to wind the watch is to install it in the case and use the crown.  That way you can use the crown to overcome the springs in the watch and put it in the winding position.

The watch is now running with good motion... it's off to the timer to see how it's performing.

That's not too bad.  If this was my personal watch I would stop right here.  A beat error of 1.5ms is well within my specs of under 3.0ms.  However, the closer to zero the better and since this is a special watch to celebrate Hamilton and the NAWCC, I feel obliged to see if I can improve it.

Alright... it doesn't get much better than that.

The movement goes back into the case.

The finished watch looks as great as it runs.   What an awesome pocket watch this will be for some lucky donor!

I'm going to hold the raffle at the end of the month.  If you appreciate vintage Hamiltons or you appreciate the work I do and what I share on the blog, please me to reach my $5,000 goal for the NAWCC.  Every donation counts and your generosity is appreciated!

Again, donations are 100% tax deductible, you'll get a receipt from PayPal for your records.  I get nothing from the proceeds of the campaign.