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, March 31, 2019

1961 Chatelaine II

Back in October of 2014 I did a post on one of the most longest-running models Hamilton made - the 1948 Chatelaine.  It's a ladies model and was marketed for "Nurses & Nuns" since it was the first ladies model to offer a sweep second hand.  It's a pendant watch and initially featured the 17 jewel 987S movement until that was replaced by the 748, and eventually the 735, and 736 after that.  It featured a sterling silver case.

In 1961 a second Chatelaine model was introduced, the Chatelaine II and it was available at the same time as the Chatelaine.  The two were marketed together until 1964.

The Chatelaine II was available with a Swiss-made movement and was offered at a lower price point than the original Chatelaine.

The Chatelaine II was replaced by the Chatelaine III in 1968 and it also featured a Swiss-made movement but I have yet to find a Chatelaine III in the wild so I'm not sure what makes it different.  It looks just like the Chatelaine II but there must be a significant difference to call it a III.

Generally ladies models don't interest me.  They are very small and they all tend to look alike.  Also, unfortunately ladies models don't command as much collector interest, so their value rarely justifies the cost to restore.  I think Chatelaine models are an exception to the rule though, they are a larger and can be worn more like jewelry than a cocktail watch.

I recently purchased a Chatelaine II and it came with a sterling fleur-de-lis mount that complemented the watch nicely.

The case back pops off and this watch's back in unengraved.  It's not unusual to find a Chatelaine with a presentation to a nun, teacher or nurse from the 1950's and that makes dating the watch very easy.  I actually restored a watch for a close family friend who is a religious and, by coincidence, she eventually met a person who was the original recipient's best friend.  The original nun had passed away long ago so my family friend gave her the watch as a reminder of her old friend.  How's that for a Godincidence?

I was very curious to see what sweep second Swiss-made grade would be inside the case.  It's a 17 jewel 610 movement.  It's very small - much smaller than the 18 jewel 8/0 size 735 that would have been in the regular Chatelaine.  Therefore this watch has a large movement ring to fill in the extra space.

The inside of the case back is clearly a Hamilton case and one of a few models that came in sterling silver.

It's a little hard to see but this movement has a shield with FF inside, indicating this movement was made by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon (FHF), one of many Swiss watch movement manufacturers and the 610 is based on a FHF 62.

The crown also has the Hamilton logo.

While the parts are in the cleaner I will prep a new crystal for installation.  24.7mm should do the trick.  This is the same crystal I'd put on an Endicott or Secometer.

Everything gets taken apart and cleaned.  I think ladies movements are more challenging than men's movements because they are much smaller but they operate the same way.

Well, despite my best efforts, I was unable to get the watch to run nicely.  Upon close inspection I noticed something was wrong with the hairspring and it's a little out of shape.  I did not drop it or goof it up so I suspect it was like this at the start (I didn't check).  I can remove it from the balance and try to get it worked back into shape.

It's also out of flat, that's an even more challenging task to repair.  I have a low success rate with getting hairsprings flat and round.  I usually work with them until I get so frustrated that I tie them into a knot or straighten them out in a fit of desperate rage.  Springs like this one are just so small it's very hard to see what you're doing.

Fortunately a replacement complete balance is only about $15 so I should be able to drop in a replacement without too much difficulty.  In the meantime, here's a sneak preview of what the finished watch will look like.

It's not often that I get beat by a watch but it does happen occasionally.  It keeps me humble and it reinforces why I need to listen to that little voice in my head when good is good enough.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

1965 Edwin

The last watch I posted about was a 1965 Thinline 2015 and it was a little unusual because it didn't have a second hand.  For almost 40 years the only men's model to not have a second hand was the 1936 Norfolk, other than the early 1920's models with the 986A movement.  I guess second hands were less important in the late 1960s - as there are few models with only hour and minute hands.

Another example is also a 1965 model, the Edwin.  It was made through 1969 and bears a faint resemblance the Thinline 2015. 

Unlike the solid 14K gold Thinline, the Edwin came in a 10K gold filled case and you could get it on a matching bracelet or a strap.  Tucked inside the Edwin's case is a 22 jewel 12/0 sized 770 movement.

I happened to see this watch for sale on eBay and thought about making a run for it but as fate would have it, a fellow collector saw it too and purchased it.  He sent it to me for an overhaul so I ended up getting it after all.  I couldn't have planned it better - ha ha!  As received, it's a little dirty but not terrible.  It looks like the dial has seen better days but most people born in 1965 have a few spots by now too.

The case back is unengraved and otherwise unremarkable.

Don't be fooled by the shiny movement, this movement is very dirty and ready for a trip to the spa.  It will be even more sparkly soon.  This 770 has a slightly different 4th wheel than a typical 770, it doesn't have the long pivot for the second hand, instead it has a short pivot.  Otherwise it's a standard-issue 770.

Everything is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned.  The bracelet isn't original but it's in good shape and goes well with the watch so I cleaned it too.

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

Well, the amplitude is great but the beat error of 6.7ms is way above specs.  I prefer to see it under 3.0 and as close to zero as possible.  It's a little tricky to adjust on US-made Hamiltons but I feel obliged to try.

You might be able to see the red impulse jewel on the roller table of the balance.  This jewel needs to be centered with the pallet fork for the watch to be "in beat" and the beat error would be 0.0 if it was perfectly aligned.  That would mean the balance would swing equally to both sides.

Flipping the balance over, the silver ball at the end of the hair spring is the hair spring stud.  This attaches to the balance cock.  Once installed, the hairspring stud determines where the balance's impulse jewel falls.  Notice the position of the stud relative to the balance arm, it's off to the left of the arm.  If I move the hairspring clockwise a little, it will move the stud and that will move the impulse jewel.

It doesn't take much to change the beat error.  You can see the stud is now over the arm.

I also need to make sure the hair spring falls between the two regulator pins when I attach the balance to the balance cock.  Then I can reinstalled the balance and see if the beat error is improved.

Well that's much better.  Notice the amplitude came up.  A high beat error will cause lower amplitude and it will also cause the watch to stop sooner than if it had a lower beat error.  Movements with an adjustable hairspring stud are very easy to fine tune.  Hamiltons... not so much.  Can I do better than 2.7ms?

I've learned the hard way to listen to that little voice in your head.  I thought about taking the balance off again and I even removed it from the movement but then I had a gut feeling that said, "Do you really want to screw this movement up for another 1.5ms?  What if you go the wrong direction?"

You have to know when to say when, and 2.7ms is fine in my opinion.  It's within my 3.0ms spec and screwing up a hairspring can happen in the blink of an eye.

I finished reassembling the watch and I think it looks much better.  My light tent is merciless but I don't see anything distracting with this watch other than the marks on the dial.  Very little wear to the case, that's for sure.

Here's a wrist shot in more flattering light.  Not a bad looking watch but I miss the second hand.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

1965 Thinline 2015

After posting over 700 models, it's getting harder to find new models.  I think I've found most of the easy models to locate but even less common models show up from time to time.  Take for instance the 1965 Thinline 2015 - it was only made for a single year.

The Thinline 2015 is an interesting model.  Its case is solid 14K gold.  Inside the case is what is effectively a ladies watch movement - which turns out isn't that uncommon for watches from the later 1960s.

My project watch arrived in well-used condition.  The dial is very dirty but it's an original dial and has a unique textured finish so it would be very hard to get refinished properly, based on my experience.  The bracelet on the watch isn't original but it seems to go nicely with the florentine engraving on the bezel.

I suspect the crown is a replacement since it doesn't have an H logo but otherwise it fits well.

This watch isn't a small watch by vintage standards.  It could easily fit a 12 size 770 movement.  The case back has a unique contour to it, indicating that the movement inside is fairly small or thin.

The dial isn't terrible but it is very dirty.  Hopefully a little light cleaning will improve it but I want to take extra care not to lose the finish or the Hamilton printing.

Check out the recess in the case back for the movement... it's round.  That's definitely not for a 770. There are two numbers inside.  The number at the bottom ends with 65, that's the serial number and it indicates the model was introduced in 1965.

The movement inside is a 17 jewel 680 but you have to look VERY closely, this movement is tiny.

Check out the dial side of the movement relative to my thumbnail... they're the same size.

Everything is taken apart and cleaned.  I also polished the acrylic crystal to get rid of the scratches that were on it.

The reassembled movement is ticking away in my smallest movement holder.   Now it's off to the timer to listen to the ticking.

Well that's not too shabby.  Notice the beat rate is 21,600 beats per hour.  This is one of the very few pre-1969 models to not have an 18,000 BPH beat rate.

My merciless light tent does not do this watch justice.  Instead it reveals every flaw, including the wear through on the expansion bracelet.  I was going to change the bracelet but I don't have an 18mm strap on hand at the moment.

In normal daylight the watch looks much better.  I was able to clean up the dial slightly but this is about as good as it will get without doing something drastic and that should only be done if you're willing to get the dial refinished, which I'm not.  It's not bad looking though, I think it makes the watch look very authentic.

Monday, March 11, 2019

1955 Stormking II

There are a few Hamilton models that have a strong family resemblance, and they're good looking too, which isn't always the case when it comes to family resemblances.  In this case I'm referring to the Stormking family and there are actually 12 different family members ranging from the Stormking I through the Stormking XI.

What's that you say, there's no Stormking XII, how could there be 12?  Well the Stormking IV actually came in a 24 hour version called the Stormking IV Military.  I've only gotten through 6 of them but I can now check off number 7 - the 1955 Stormking II.

The Stormking II was introduced in 1955 and made through 1957.  If you didn't buy it earlier, by 1957 the price increased from $150 to $175... that was an increase of over $220 in today's dollars.

 One reason the Stormking II was so expensive is it came in a solid 14K gold case.  If that was too much to swing you could always go with the Stormking III, it had a 14K gold case too but with a stainless steel case back.

Inside the Stormking II case you will find an 8/0 sized 735 movement although an earlier 1955 model might still have a 748 movement.  A 735 is more probable though.

I recently picked up a Stormking II and it came with an interesting dial with a company logo from United Gas representing a 25 year service award.

The back of the watch is engraved with simply two initials and a last name.  I guess they must have been charged by the letter.

This case back in on TIGHT.  Although the recesses help a case wrench grab ahold, you still need to hang on to the rest of the case.  Plus, if you're not super careful the wrench will slip and gouge the softer gold case back with three deep scratches.  My best chance of success will be to use a case holder and a bench vice - that way I can focus all of my attention on making sure the wrench doesn't slip.

Voila!  The 735 is revealed.  The gasket inside was what was holding the case back on so tight.

The 735 is basically a shock-jeweled version of the 748.

The movement is completely disassembled and ultrasonically cleaned before being reassembled.  I'll also apply fresh luminous paint to the hands.

The reassembled movement is ticking away but it doesn't quite look right to my eye.

Sure enough, the watch has an usual beat rate and the timer is picking up 19800 beats per hour instead of 18000.

I recleaned the hairspring a couple of times and finally got a clean signal.  I'll have to speed it up a smidgen but not by too much.

A new crystal will be an easy to do improvement.

The freshly cleaned movement is recased along with a fresh gasket.

The finished watch turned out great.  New lume and a new crystal really do a vintage watch a lot of good.  Now to find the 18K gold version - the Stormking I.