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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, November 9, 2019

1960s Accumatic Pan Europ 63009-3

In the 1960s Hamilton purchased the Swiss watch manufacturer Buren, who previously made the microrotor movements used in some of Hamilton's Thin-o-matics.  Eventually Hamilton manufacturing would move to Buren's Swiss factory as the company evolved into a global watch company.  I suspect Hamilton produced watches specifically for non-US markets.  Over 50 years it's not surprising that some of them would make their way to the United States.

As evidence, there are quite a few non-catalogued models that are known mainly by the model numbers on the case back.  One of them looks a lot like the 1964 Dateline A-579, but came in a yellow case.  It's model number is 64017-4 instead of -3 like on the A-579.



Another model is the 63009-3.  It looks exactly like the Dateline A-579 except there's no date complication.   I'm going to guess this is also an early 1960's model because the dial has a few small radium burns from the hands being in the same position for many years.  By the 1970s radium was no longer used.  I'll remove the radium in my ultrasonic cleaner and replace it with modern luminous paint.


The back of the 63009-3 is exactly like the 64017-3, the only difference is the model number.  These cases are notoriously challenging to open and it's not unusual to see the case back is riddled with previous tool marks.  This one has a couple but isn't too bad.


Still, getting this one open is aided by having a holder to secure the case so a case opener can work its magic.


If you know anything about Hamilton model numbers, they will often start with the caliber of the movement inside... in this case (pardon the pun) you will find a caliber 63.  It's a 21 jewel version of the 17 jewel 689 automatic you will find in the Accumatic line.  The four extra jewels are in the reversing wheels of the automatic framework.

Looking closely, you might spot there's a screw wedged between the rotor and movement retaining ring.  I doubt this watch has been winding properly.  There's an empty hole where the retaining clip would be... I wonder if that's where the screw came from?


One of the signs that this is not a US model is it doesn't say Hamilton Watch Co Lancaster PA anywhere inside the case out outside.


Well, there are two screws but only one retaining clip.  Perhaps the other clip is inside the movement somewhere.


Sure enough, I found the other clip inside the movement.


Everything is cleaned and dried before being reassembled.


The basic movement is back together and ticking away with good motion.  Let's see what the timer thinks of it.


It's running a smidgen fast and the beat error is a tad high.  Fortunately both are very easy to adjust on this movement.


First I'll tackle the beat error... it doesn't get better than 0.0 ms.  The amplitude is a little low but I haven't fully wound the mainspring yet.


Alright... the beat rate is slowed to just 18 seconds fast per day, it should slow a little as it settles in.  Notice the amplitude is up to a vigorous 287 degrees.


I suspect the bracelet on this watch is original and it's the same as what was on the 64017-3.  It's a challenging watch to fit a strap to as the lugs are short and a curved spring bar is needed.  It's one of the few models that I prefer a bracelet be installed.  The radium is gone now so the dial won't suffer additional damage but the hands will glow once again, thanks to the new luminous paint.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

1955 Stormking I

If you had deep pockets but not a lot of space and wanted to have a nice Hamilton collection you could try to find all of the solid 18K models.  There are only about 15 of them, if you include some real rarities but you'll find a cool dozen in the Hamilton catalogs.  One of them is the 1955 Stormking I. 


The Stormking I looks a lot like the other early Stormking models II through IV released at the same time.  However, the Stormking I has a unique dial with a silver pearled track, gold applique arrows and solid 18K numerals and markers.  The case is solid 18K gold and the back is stainless steel.

Tucked inside the case is an 18 jewel US-made 735 movement, unless it's an early 1955 model that received the last of the 748 movements.  The Stormking was produced through 1957 so you're more likely to see the shock jeweled 735.

One of the unique features of the model is it originally had "silhouette hands" where radium was applied to the back of the hands so the hands would be back-lit by the glow of the radium on the dial.  Of course after 60 years the radium can take its toll on the dial.

My project watch looks pretty good.  In fact, my camera really doesn't do the watch justice.


It may seem "cheap" to put stainless steel on the back but when you consider how soft gold can be, stainless steel really isn't a bad choice from a wrist wear standpoint.


As expected, this example has a 735 movement inside.  This movement was introduced in 1955 and replaced the 748 movement.  The only difference between the two is the 735 has shock jewels to protect the balance staff.


The inside of the case back makes identifying the model as easy as can be... the name is stamped inside.


The dial would be very hard to refinish correctly - look at all these details.  There are a couple of slight scratches but otherwise it looks good to my eye.


Everything is cleaned, dried and ready to be reassembled.


The movement is bright and shiny now.  Let's see what the timer thinks of it.


Not too shabby... I can slow it down a little but it should settle down a little on it's own after a while.


And here's the finished watch ready for it's pillow-shot.  You have to be careful polishing 18K watches too - it's very easy to soften the sharp edges if you're not careful.  This watch looks great, even in my merciless light tent.



Saturday, August 17, 2019

1960 Stormking VI

When I first got interested in Hamilton watches I was a little intimidated by the magnitude of possible models out there.  Part of the fun of collecting is to have a complete collection and you'd have to collect thousands of watches if you wanted a version of every model, in every configuration that was made.  Just think about the models with white or black dials, it yellow gold and white gold, and the list becomes staggering.

So my interests quickly moved to specific lines of models.  For example, I thought briefly about focusing on Electrics - as there are some really cool and interesting models in the 1957 through 1969 time frame.  However, I quickly realized that Electrics are very costly to maintain, and will eventually be impossible to keep running as consumable parts are eventually depleted.

Mechanical models, if regularly cleaned and oiled, can last well beyond any one person's lifetime.  So then I decided to focus on particular line of mechanical models - the CLD line to be specific.  CLD is meant to be pronounced "sealed" and these unique models preceded what would eventually become "water proof" models.  There aren't that many CLD models so I thought that would be an achievable objective.  Then I realized there are a couple of unicorns in the CLD lineup - watches you may have heard of but few have ever seen.

I sold my meager CLD collection and moved on to greener pastures - the Stormking line.  There are fewer unique Stormking models than there are CLD models so surely that would be achievable - right?  Well, not really, there are a few unicorns in the Stormking world too but I'm getting there.  One of them is the 1960 Stormking VI.  It was produced through 1964.


If you look closely at the 1960 catalog depiction, you'll see the model has an 18 jewel movement.  The implies it has an 8/0 735 movement, as there were no other 18 jewel calibers at the time.  The white dial has yellow embossed makers and numerals.  Notice the minute track features lines.

In 1964 the dial changed slightly.  Can you spot the difference?


Instead of lines for the minute marks, there was now a ring of pearled track of gold dots.  The shape of the numbers changed slightly too.  The bracelet stayed the same though.  One funny, or odd, thing that my eye sees is the length of the minute hand seems a bit exaggerated.  Catalog depictions are artistic renditions though, so sometimes they don't match reality.

My Stormking VI project watch is a 1964 version.  In fact, it's a 1968 version and was probably produced by the awards division, based on the presentation on the back.  The awards division provided Hamilton watches to corporate groups or organizations to use as awards or presentations.  In order to ensure that recipients' could not find their award in their local jewelry store, the awards division would use discontinued models or slightly different dial variations.  They would also often put "masterpiece" on the dial.


My project watch is a totally legit Stormking VI, it was just produced after 1964 based on the presentation on the case back.


I know I'm not the first one to wonder how this case comes apart... does the stainless steel back pop off?  Someone's tried to pry at it in the past.


Actually this model opens through the crystal.  Once you lift the crystal you can separate the two-piece stem and lift the movement out the front.


I see one previous watchmaker's mark inside so this watch has been cleaned at least once in the past 50 years.  It's probably long overdue.


This watch definitely had a bracelet installed at some point.  The inside of the lugs clearly shows some bracelet-related wear.


The 735 movement was updated with a Glucydur balance in the early 1960's and renumbered as the 736.  For all intents and purposes everything else is the same between the grades but a Gludydur balance has no timings screws.  If you break this balance staff you'll need to replaced the balance assembly.


One interesting bit of trivia with the 748, 735 and 736 movements is the barrel bridge.  The mainspring is installed in the barrel and the barrel is under the barrel bridge.  In order to get to the barrel you need to remove the barrel bridge and in order to get to the barrel bridge you need to remove the train bridge... in other words, it's a real pain to have to replace the mainspring.

Initially the 748 had a single barrel bridge and eventually (say the early 1950s) Hamilton designers came up with a two-piece barrel bridge design.  That way you could remove the barrel without taking the movement apart.  Fast forward a few years and designers realized that the white alloy mainsprings they now used did not break (not easily, anyway) so they went back to a single-piece barrel bridge design.  What was old became new again... go figure.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  The crystal was in decent shape so I just polished it so I can reuse it again.


Reassembling one of these 8/0 sized sweep second movements is not easy.  In my early days I would have beads of sweat on my forehead as I fidgeted and fussed with the train wheels for 30+ minutes trying to get everything aligned.  I've had more than a few people ask if they could send me their "parts" in the hopes I could reassemble their watch for them (and no, I don't like to do that, you broke it, you fix it).

This movement is now ticking away with good motion.  Let's see what the timer thinks of it.


Not too shabby.  Hamilton movements are excellent but if I had one criticism it would be the beat error is challenging to adjust on Lancaster-made movements.  By this time, pretty much all of the Swiss-made calibers had easy adjusting balance cock designs that allowed the beat error to be fine tuned without difficulty.  The case below, the beat error of 1.7ms is well within my specs of being under 3.0 so I will leave it as is.  It could be lowered but that also rolls the dice and risks goofing up the hairspring.  The added juice isn't worth the squeeze when it comes to making this very minor adjustment.


My finished project watch looks pretty much the same as what I started with but now I know the movement is ready for wrist wear.  You can see the proportions of the hands look correct, compared to the catalog depiction for 1964.  They look just as the 1960 catalog depicts though.


Update: November 2019

Just for comparison, here's and example of the earlier Stormking VI.  Notice the differences on the dial?


Sunday, July 28, 2019

1924 Ladies Round

For its first 25 years Hamilton was known for its pocket watches and being "the watch of Railroad Accuracy".  Wrist watches really didn't become fashionable until after World War I, but ladies models were made with smaller pendant-sized movements.


By the early 1920's, wrist watches were coming into their own.  There were a number of different ladies models presented on ribbon straps as well as detachable leather.  Like the early men's models, the ladies models were defined by their shape; decagon, tonneau, round and cushion.  They came in solid gold as well as gold filled, in white, yellow or green gold.



By the early 1920's Hamilton introduced its only man's strap model, eventually called the Cushion Round, based on the case shape and round bezel opening.  It featured the same 6/0 sized movement used in the ladies model, the 17 jewel 986A.


The 986A is an interesting movement.  It's a bit of a blend of the 17 jewel 986 movement used earlier in ladies pendant watches and the soon to be introduced 987 movement that would come out in 1927.

Unlike the 986 and 987, the 986A does not have a second hand.  However, if it did have one it would have been at the 9 position, like a 986, instead of at the 6 position, like a 987.

I don't particularly like working on watches from the 1920s.  Although they are quality movements, they lack the technological improvements that were eventually added and they tend to have the most "mileage".  In short, they can be worn out and very temperamental.

That said, I'm a little surprised that I haven't already shown a 986A on the blog and I recently had an opportunity after my daughter's watch stopped working.

My project watch is very similar to the one pictured in the catalog, although the dial and hands are different.  This style of hands is called "moon" hands and the crown is an "onion".  My watch is presented on a metal expansion bracelet, which makes it easy to wear.  You'd be hard pressed to find an original ribbon bracelet to mount on it, although I would certainly prefer it.


The inside of the case back is clearly a Hamilton case.  The 25 year warranty indicates it's gold filled.


The 986A movement inside looks more like a 987 than a 986.  I can tell by the markings in the case back that I last worked on this movement in 2012.  So this watch is long overdue for a trip to the spa.


I realized that I don't have a 986A in my "overhaul examples" on one of the blog pages.  If you look at the "Pages" menu on the right side of the blog you'll see Overhaul Examples with detailed step-by-step explanation of the movements I've worked on.  I use this post to document how to assemble the 986A.

As you can see below, everything is taken apart, cleaned in the ultrasonic and dried before being reassembled.


Normally I put the pallet fork on after the train wheels are in place but not on these older movements.  The pallet fork bridge has a screw that is easier to access without the center wheel installed.  So the pallet fork goes on first.


Next the escape wheel and 4th wheel go on.  I carefully position the two wheels so the pallet fork is properly engaged and then the train bridge goes on.


Next to be installed is the mainspring barrel, the third wheel and the center wheel.  Notice it's harder to get to the pallet bridge once these wheels are in place.


The balance cock uses a screw with a smaller head than the other bridge screws... just a little trivia for you.


Once I installed the barrel bridge, the crown wheel and ratchet wheel, I can wind the watch a little and energize the mainspring.  That way once I install the balance, it should start moving.


I noticed the regulator was set to full fast when I first opened the watch.  You can adjust the speed of the balance on these older movements by moving the screws at the end of the balance arm.  Move them out and the speed is slowed, moving them in will speed the watch up.  You need to be very careful with this adjustment though, as you can impact the poising of the movement, not to mention break a balance staff pivot. 


Voila... the watch is back in business and ticking away nicely.  I set the regulator back to the middle to see what's going on.


According to the timer it's looking pretty good.  I can slow it down with the regulator... it certainly didn't need to be set to full fast like it was originally.


Now I can flip the movement over and install the parts on the front of the main plate.


First I'll install the cannon pinion in the center.  This is what the minute hand is attached to.


I need to install the winding pinion and the clutch wheel.  First the winding pinion goes in.


In order to get the clutch wheel in place, I need to remove the set lever spring.


Now I can drop the clutch in place, install the stem, and put the set lever spring back on.


There... getting these parts on can sometimes be a challenge, glad that's finished.


This movement has two gears in the setting portion of the keyless works.  They engage the gold minute wheel.  The minute wheel is driven by the cannon pinion and minute wheel will drive the hour wheel (and hour hand).  That's what keeps the minute hand and hour hand in sync.


The hour wheel goes on and the set bridge... now all I need to do is reinstall the dial.


There are three dial foot screws on the side of the movement that hold the dial in place.  You need to be very careful not to drop the movement, as that's a great way to break the balance staff.


Ta-da!  The movement goes back into the case and this 95 year old watch is ready for more wrist time!