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, December 26, 2020

Merry Christmas!... and shop update

It's been a long while since I've posted on the blog and more than a few people have reached out to me to wish me well and inquire how I'm doing.  Thank you.  I thought others might like to hear why things have been quiet and what the future holds.

But first, Merry Christmas!  Although today is December 26th, it's actually the 2nd day of Christmas, so I'm not late to the party after all.  In fact, Christmas is celebrated for 10 more days and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th.

Did you know that Christmas is celebrated by 95% of Americans?

What a year this has been, huh?  On a personal note, this has been a banner year... I've had one child graduate college, another graduate high school, and we picked up stakes in Pennsylvania and moved to Virginia. 

What else happened in 2020?  Oh that's right, that little thing called COVID-19.  Boy did that change everything.

As I've reflected on a theme for my annual Christmas post, I thought the following Hamilton advertisement was inspiring.  We shall ride this storm through...

The birth of Christ celebrates God's gifts of Faith, Hope and Love to humanity and regardless of your religious persuasion, I hope you can experience those gifts first hand in these most desperate times.

There is tremendous hope that our collective scientific community will develop new vaccines and treatments to beat this disease.  That hope is well founded, but it will take time to develop the scale needed to reach everyone, everywhere.

Faith gives us hope and faith is what you need to accept a vaccine into your body.  You have to believe in the science inside the vial... no one wants to hear their doctor say, "well, here goes, I hope this works."

Of course, some folks don't believe in science.  Some don't believe we've been to the moon either, even though there are pictures!

I jest, of course, the astronauts didn't remove their helmets on the moon, as this NASA training image might suggest, but the point is true nonetheless.

Love is the most plentiful of God's gifts to see in a COVID-world today.  You'll see it in every healthcare worker, in every hospital, in every town.  

One way that YOU can show these values is to wear a mask.  Wearing a mask demonstrates you care enough about others that you're willing to protect the most vulnerable in our community by slowing the progress of this disease.  It also shows that you're willing to have faith and hope while we ride this storm through together.

As for a shop update... as I mentioned, we moved to Virginia mid-year.  We've been living in a townhouse in the Shenandoah Valley with the majority of our "stuff" in storage - including all of my workshop materials.  I took great care to move my workshop myself and it was the first of our belongings to go into storage.  That also means it's the furthest from the door and the hardest to get to.  So I haven't worked on a watch in months!

We last moved in 2007 and that was a long enough time ago for us to completely forget how painful it is to move everything you own.  Plus, we managed to acquire a LOT more stuff since 2007.  

Moving is a great opportunity to focus on what's important to you.  We sold a lot of things and we've been patiently waiting for just the right place to come on the market... something with nice mountain views, not too large, not too small, something with a nice workspace, not too long of a drive to work, etc.   

The good news is we've finally found it.  We have a contract on a new home and should be ready to move in late February.  With a little luck and a bit of effort, I should have my workshop back online by March.  

Maybe that's something we can all look forward to a little.  I've got quite a few watch projects waiting for some TLC.

I'll close this annual post with an Irish Christmas blessing:

May you be blessed with the spirit of the season, 
which is peace, 
the gladness of the season,
 which is hope, 
and the heart of the season, 
which is love.

Best wishes for a better 2021!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

1965 A-202 maybe?

One thing I like about collecting vintage Hamiltons is when I get pitched a curve ball.  It doesn't happen too often but it's always a nice change of pace, especially after documenting over 700 different models!

There's one model that always makes me scratch my head - the Accumatic A-652.  It was introduced in 1962 and made into the 1970s.  The 6 in 652 means it has a 10K RGP case.  The 5 means it has a stainless steel back.  The 2 implies it was the second Accumatic with a 10K RGP case and stainless back.

What makes the A-652 interesting is I've found it numerous times without a stainless steel back.  Is it still an A-652 if its just a 10K RGP case?  I would say, yes.

How about if it was in a solid 14K yellow gold case?  Hmm...

Well, that's what my project watch appears to be.  It looks like a well-worn A-652 with a solid 14K case.

Here's an A-652 on it's original bracelet to compare it to.  In general the dial is the same.  The shape of the lugs is very similar but not exactly the same.

The back of the single-piece case is clearly marked Hamilton and 14K Gold.  D&A is the name of the case maker.

The first solid gold Accumatic came out in 1962 but only one, the A-200, was introduced.  The other few solid Accumatics weren't released until 1968.  Prior to 1968, Accumatics came mostly in stainless steel or 10K rolled gold plate.  There are only a handful of solid gold Accumatics and one of them is the 1968 Accumatic A-203.  The case on my project watch looks very similar to an A-203, don't you think?

The crown on my project watch is worn out and ready for replacement.

The seal on the crown has also separated so replacing the crown is definitely a good idea.

There are two numbers inside the case.  The V44xx number is a unique serial number for this watch.  The other number is the model number.  It ends in 65... that implies this model is a 1965 model.  In 1968 the A-201, A-201B, A-203, A-205 and A-206 were introduced.  There is no A-202 or 204... since the A-202 would conceivably come before the A-203 and the A-203 came out in 1968, maybe my project watch is an A-202?

It's also possible it's an Awards Division watch or possibly an M-series model.

The Awards Division marketed Hamilton watches for presentation by companies and organizations.  They were separate models from the regular line.  The premise being that award recipients wouldn't find their "award" in their local jewelry store.  Often an Awards Division model will say "Masterpiece" on the dial.

M-series models are typically uncatalogued.  The conventional wisdom is they were models sold through a large retail chain.  The best way to identify an M-series model is they came in a red clam shell box like this 1963 M100-4.

Of course, it's also possible that at some point over the past 50+ years the dial was changed.  Without original paperwork it's really difficult to say.

Inside the case is a 17 jewel 689A movement, the typical Accumatic caliber.

The finish on the dial is a bit crazed so I really don't want to try to clean it since there's a big probability I could lose the printing or make the dial look a lot worse.

Everything gets taken apart and thoroughly cleaned.

A new crown will make it much easier to wind by hand and less likely for moisture to sneak inside.

The escape wheel is missing a pivot and will need to be replaced.  It's hard to see in the photo but the pinion-end should have a pivot to ride in the jewel on the train bridge.

With a replacement escape wheel installed, the reassembled movement is ticking away with a nice motion.  The timer will tell me how well it's running.  You really can't adjust a watch with a stop watch.  A timegrapher is an absolute necessity.

It's running a little slow but the beat error of 8.3ms is way to high.  Fortunately it's easy to adjust on this movement.

A few tweaks to the position of the hairspring stud centers the balance and reduced the beat error to 0.1ms.  That means the balance swings equally from side to side.

With the beat error out of the way, I can tweak the regulator pins and speed the watch up.  +8 seconds per day is a good place to leave it for now.

My merciless light tent makes this watch look worse than it really is.  It actually looks way nicer in real life.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

1969 Dateline S-Something

I recently found an uncatalogued model, which is always fun to find.  Based on some detective sleuthing I'm very confident it's a legitimate model, so I'll walk you through my thought process.

As received it was a little dirty and the crystal was crazed with fine cracks internally.  The 12 and 6 markers are larger rectangles and have the numbers on them.

Here's a better shot of the crazing.  This crystal will need to be replaced but it's the wrong style so it would have been replaced anyway.

The number on the case back is 985369.  This would tell me that it's a 1969 model.  The catalog available on line is a 1968/69 version so it wouldn't have a 1969-released model.  Based on the online forums, this is the first 985369 to be found.  I didn't take a photo of the inside of the case back but it has the proper Hamilton Watch Co Lancaster PA markings and a unique serial number for this watch.

Inside the case is a 17 jewel 674 movement.  This manual wind version of the automatic 694 is used in the Dateline S series.  There are a handful of S-models and I suspect this is one of the last ones.

All of the parts are disassembled and ultrasonically cleaned.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion.  Let's see what the timer has to say.

It's running a little fast and the beat error of 2.3ms is on the high side.  Both are very easy to adjust.  The amplitude of 193 degrees is a little low.  I'd prefer to see it well over 200 but I haven't wound this watch up all the way.

First I'll adjust the beat error by moving the location of the hairspring stud on the balance cock.  It doesn't get better than 0.0 - that means the balance swings equally from one side to the other.

Now I can lower the beat rate by adjusting the regulator pins relative to the hair spring stud.

Winding the watch up more fully, the amplitude increased to an acceptable 234 degrees.

Putting the hands back on requires advancing the time until the date changes.  Then it's midnight and the hands can be position accordingly.  Notice I replaced the lume on the hands so they will glow in the dark again.

This mystery Dateline S-something turned out great.  With a proper crystal it really looks fantastic and it runs as good as it looks!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

1955 Lloyd

Happy Mother's Day.

If you're a mom, I hope you had a nice day.  If you're not, I hope you've helped make a mom's day nice.

Mother's day always reminds me of the childrens' picture book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.  It's a very touching story with the refrain...

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my baby you'll be"

If you haven't read it, or heard it, do a little googling and you should be able to find it.

My watch for this post is a really interesting and rare find.  It's a one year wonder from 1955 called the Lloyd.

The Hamilton Lloyd came in a 10K yellow gold filled case and it features an interesting case design with flourished dimples in the corners of the bezel.  It came paired on it's own bracelet or on a strap.  I have to say, with the bracelet it's not the most appealing watch, at least to my eye.   It's no 1954 Kenmore, which is arguably the ugliest watch in Hamilton's line up but on the a strap, I think the Lloyd is actually a sharp-looking model.  

Other's must have thought the Lloyd was nice looking too, as it was reissued a few years ago by today's Hamilton as a chronograph.

I found my project watch on Instagram from a fellow collector who was selling it.  I was really happy to get is since I think it's only the second time I've seen a Lloyd online and I've never seen one in person.

As received, it was in very nice shape.  The only thing it appears to need is a fresh crystal, this one has a small chip in the corner and on the side.

The back of the case is a little dirty but otherwise unremarkable.

The sterling silver dial features solid 18K numerals.  This one appears to be original and shows a few age spots but nothing too distracting.

The movement inside is a 22 jewel 770.  Being a 1955 model, I wouldn't have been surprised to see 753 movement inside, as the 770 came out in 1955.  This one may look bright and shiny but you can tell by the grime around the winding wheel that it's been a while since this movement was last cleaned.

The inside of the case back clearly identifies the name of the model.  That's not always the situation but it happens a bit in the 1950s.

Everything gets completely disassembled and cleaned before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion, let's see what the timer thinks of it.

Hmm... things look pretty good but the beat error of 2.9ms is just below my upper spec of 3.0ms.  The beat error is a measure of how far the balance swings to one side versus the other.  If the balance swings equally from side to side the beat error would be zero.  Adjusting the beat error on this style movement requires removing the balance from the balance cock and adjusting the position of the hairspring on the balance staff.  Adjusting the beat error is a roll of the dice... you might make it better but you might also goof up the hairspring.  Hmm... what to do?  Although 2.9ms is within "my specs", I'd feel a little guilty if I didn't try to improve it.

There... 1.1ms is much better.  It's not perfect but it's not worth tempting fate by trying to lower it further.  Now I can tweak the regulator and speed it up a smidgen.

My finished watch looks a little brighter than what I started with but it wasn't too bad to begin with.  The Lloyd is actually a nice sized watch by vintage standards and is about 28mm wide, without the crown.  I'm sure it will look even better once I replace the crystal.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

1968 Lord Lancaster EE

Happy Easter! 

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a month since my last post.  These are strange and unsettling times, and I've been very busy. 

A lot of folks have reached out to me to make sure that all was well.  Thanks for your concern and support.  I've been fully dedicated to my "real job" supporting the manufacturing of a key antibiotic that is in short supply.  I've had no time for watches and no access to my workshop, in fact.

As I've reflected over the 40 days of Lent and now with the arrival of Easter, three words have resonated in my mind that, regardless of faith, everyone should keep in mind... "be not afraid". 

The words "be not afraid" are mentioned many times in scripture but I think Isaiah 41:10 is most fitting for today... "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

In other words, "stop buying all the toilet paper, we will get through this together, you won't crap yourself to death".

A special day like Easter is deserving of a special watch and I've got a great one to share with you.  It's a very uncommon member of the Lord Lancaster line, the 1968 Lord Lancaster EE.  It was only made for a year or two and this is the only one I've ever seen.

The Lord Lancaster line are models that feature diamonds on the dial or integrated into the case.  They are often similar to other models in the Hamilton line up and the Lord Lancaster EE looks a lot like the Thinline 2042. 

The Lord Lancaster EE came in a solid 14K white gold case with an integrated 14K gold mesh band.  1ct worth of diamonds are imbedded into the bezel giving the watch more than its fair share of sparkle and bling.

You might wonder how much the Lord Lancaster EE sold for.  I'll tell you... I don't know.  No price was shown in the catalog so you know it must have been expensive.

My project watch came courtesy of a fellow collector.  It looks like it's almost unworn.

The only imperfection that I can spot is a slight scratch on the dial by the 2 marker.  Maybe it's just a fleck of dirt and will come off.  We'll see.

You will see diamond-laden Hamilton watches for sale all the time on eBay, often are ridiculous prices.  Normally when I see them my first thought is "buyer beware" because they are probably not authentic models.  In fact, I would say most of the time they are not authentic.  One way to check for authenticity is to look at the case back, or inside the case back.  If it doesn't say Hamilton, it's not a legitimate model.

It's interesting that for what was arguably the most expensive model in Hamilton's 1968 lineup, the movement inside was Swiss-made.  A lot of uninformed Hamilton collectors initially turn up their noses at Swiss-made Hamilton models thinking they are lesser than their American-made counterparts.  To some extent that's true but only because Swiss-made movements allowed Hamilton to produce watches at the lower price points needed to compete in the 1950s and 60s watch market.  They were still quality timepieces.

The movement inside is a Swiss made Hamilton 680 made by ETA.  This tiny movement is used in some ladies models too and it's about the size of my thumbnail.

The inside of the case back presents other visual clues that the model is legitimate.  Notice the second number ends with 68, that's the year the case was introduced and the number starting with a D is unique to this specific example.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.

Reassembling tiny watches is more difficult than larger movements.  The principles are the same but the smaller pieces require a very delicate touch to make sure they are in place.  Now the movement is ticking away with a vigorous motion.

The movement is running right on the money.  Notice the beat rate is 21,600.  That's higher than the typical 18,000 beats per hour that most vintage watches from this period have.

This watch now looks as good as it runs and it looks great.  The bracelet is the perfect length for my 7 inch wrist and the metal braid is surprisingly comfortable.  Although, I can't see too many occasions where I would be called to wear a diamond-laden men's watch.  I don't see an easy way to remove or adjust the strap, so the bracelet's length could limit the watch's appeal.

Even the clasp has the stylized Hamilton H logo.

This watch came with it's original Hamilton inner box...

... and outer box as well.

This is definitely a very nice watch, I think the Easter Bunny approves.

I wish you a healthy and happy Easter.  I'll end this post with this brief prayer, I think it's very fitting in today's environment of social distancing and isolation.

Draw us forth, God of all creation. Draw us forward and away from limited certainty into the immense world of your love. Give us the capacity to even for a moment taste the richness of the feast you give us. Give us the peace to live with uncertainty, with questions, with doubts. Help us to experience the resurrection anew with open wonder and an increasing ability to see you in the people of Easter.

Remember, be not afraid.  Amen!