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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018!

Today is Christmas and all across the world people celebrate the birth of Christ in different ways but universally with the hope for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.

It's a bit of a paradox really, most Western nations celebrate Christmas as a national holiday but wishing people "merry Christmas" often feels politically incorrect.  You would think the idea of peace on Earth should resonate with everyone, but alas, no.

I don't know about you but "happy holidays" just doesn't cut it, although I do respect the faiths of other people.  I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, "No Christ, No Christmas. Know Christ, Know Christmas" and I thought it was a great reminder of the reason for the season.

After all, what other annual clearance event has stuck around for over 2,000 years?  There must be more to Christmas than a marketing opportunity.  The passing of another Christmas should serve as a reminder, at least to all Christians, that our opportunity to love thy neighbor is limited.  As Charles Dickens wrote in "A Christmas Carol"...

“No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused”.

Another great author, J.R.R. Tolkien, posed the following riddle in "The Hobbit":

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

If you recall, Bilbo's accidental response was "time".

Time is our most under-appreciated gift.  We think we'll always have it so we often waste it. Eventually we learn to value it more and more.  You've heard the phrase "time is money" but the opposite is certainly not true.  With time you can make more money but you cannot buy a moment's more time - when your time is up.  No one on their death bed asks for more money.  Our time on Earth is limited and if we are wise we will share it with others, especially our family.

Time is an abstract concept and one that I occasionally ponder - especially when I look up at the moon and consider how everyone who has ever lived has gazed upon the same sight, regardless of when or where they lived.  When it comes to the moon, we are all connected.

The same seems to be true with watches but to a lesser degree.  Watches not only tell time, they span time and connect generations as treasured heirlooms.

It's a concept that Hamilton included in their 1930's marketing... Time and Christmas wait for no man.

For this Christmas post I thought I'd share another ghost of Christmas past, and it's one of my favorite models - a Tonneau Engraved from the late 1920s.  The model was originally introduced in 1927 and was produced through 1932.  It came in both solid gold and gold filled, initially in green and white gold but later in yellow gold too.

My project watch is a green gold filled example with an interesting chain bracelet.  The ancient plastic crystal is a type that outgassed a chemical corrosive to steel.  So the hands behind the crystal are crusty and the dial could stand to be refinished.  If you look closely you can see there is still black enamel in the engraving on the bezel.

This watch was a Christmas present from Jennie to Milford in 1929 and it's nicely engraved by hand. This is becoming a lost art.

The movement inside the case is a 17 jewel 6/0 size 987 and the serial numbers indicates it left the factory in April, 1928.  The number 1110 stamped on the case is the last four digits of the case serial number and matches the inside of the case back.

A new glass crystal will make an immediate improvement to the watch's appearance.

Everything is completely disassembled and ultrasonically cleaned.  Now it's ready to be reassembled with fresh lubricants.

First I'll have to install a fresh mainspring.  This new 6/0 sized Dynavar mainspring will give the watch plenty of life.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion... now it's off to the timer.

Not too shabby for being 90 years old... 36 seconds slow per day can be easily corrected with a slight tweak to the regulator.

Although the case still has some black enamel in the engravings, I will add a little more with a paint pen.

The Engraved version of the Tonneau is defined by the engraving on the bezel.  The center portion of the case is engraved on both versions of the Tonneau, plain or engraved.  This fine detail is one of the reasons why the Tonneau is a favorite model.

The finished watch looks fantastic.  I think this may be one of the nicest gold filled Tonneaus I've come across.  There is absolutely no wear through that I can see anywhere.  The bracelet shows some wear but it looks like Milford might have only worn this watch only on special occasions.

Wherever Jennie and Milford are, I hope they enjoyed a long life together.  I wonder how many Christmases they celebrated together?

I mentioned "A Christmas Carol" above, the reclamation of Scrooge is one of my favorite Christmas stories.  You may recall that after promising Bob Cratchit to assist his struggling family, Scrooge became a better man...

"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world."

Most movies leave out the additional prose that followed that line, I guess political correctness was a factor in Dickens' time too...

Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

So if you're like me, and I hope you are, I hope your heart will laugh a little too, and together we may all strive to know how to keep Christmas well.

Have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for a joy-filled 2019!


  1. Lovely comments. Excellent restoration. Merry Christmas, Dan. Thanks for all you do.

  2. As always, extraordinary work. And, thank you for the thoughtful comments. A belated Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Merry Christmas Dan! Your post was outstanding. And what a great job on the watch! I love watches with presentation engraving, especially one like this where it was from someone to their loved one. Have a very happy new year!

  4. A belated reply but as stated above, outstanding! Beautiful dial and case on that timepiece.

  5. This is awesome. This wristwatch looks so adorable and unique. Especially, I like the chain bracelet. It looks so unusual, comparing to leather or steel one. And, of course, you did a perfect job.