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, April 11, 2021

1955 Viscount

At last... back in the saddle again.

It's been almost 8 months since I last touched a project watch.  Can you believe it?

If you've seen my last post you know that we've been in the process of relocating from Pennsylvania to Virginia.  We consider Virginia the "motherland" as we moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania in 2007 with the hope of someday returning.

And here we are, at the threshold of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the middle of the Shenandoah National Park, with a view of Flat Top Mountain.  Skyline Drive is somewhere just over the crest of that peak.

The new global headquarters of HamiltonChronicles is on the opposite side of that window... impressive isn't it.  I've come a long way from the basement of my last house and worked my way up to a window and a corner office to boot!

My accommodations are still a work in progress.  In fact, I only have one outlet and have yet to find my desk lamps so it's not the easiest place to accomplish tasks requiring fine motor skills.  It took me most of the weekend to find all of my tools and miscellaneous parts needed to work on watches. (Yes, that's a Hamilton clock on the wall)

My project watch is a really unique model.  It's the 1955 Viscount and was made for four years.  Check out the design for the lugs!  This watch requires a specially trimmed strap.

The Viscount came in a solid 14K gold case with a sterling silver dial with either a silver butler finish or a black finished dial.

In 1958 the dial was outfitted with an extra gold marker to denote it as part of the masterpiece line.  So if you see a model without this medallion under the Hamilton logo it is likely a 1955 example.

My project watch has a few issues.  Can you spot the any of them?

There are several issues the trained eye might spot.  For starters, the crown is totally incorrect.  The marker at the 3 position is missing.  The dial is an older, slightly incorrect refinish.  There are supposed to be two intersecting lines running horizontally but not vertically.  The second hand isn't the right style either but that is forgivable after close to 70 years.

This is the first time I've come across a Viscount in the wild.  I suspect there may be an issue with the lugs, the strap is very wobbly.

Check out the crown, it appears to be a waterproof crown and definitely not correct for a dress watch.  Specifying crown is actually very tricky, there are a lot of factors to consider like the diameter, style, tap, post length, etc.  I should have a genuine Hamilton crown in my stash that will work much better.

Tucked inside the case is a 22 jewel 770 movement, Hamilton's top of the line caliber.  This one is pretty dirty but it does tick, which is always a good sign.

If you didn't believe the dial was refinished, the index mark on the edge of the dial at the 12 is proof positive.

The dial-side of the main plate definitely shows more dirt than the damascened reverse.  It's been a long time since this watch has had a trip to the spa.  You can see in this shot that the crown has a long post, which means I'll need to replace the stem when I fit the new crown.

The missing long marker is very unique.  It took me a while but I eventually found a donor dial.  This dial has a radium burn and incorrect markings so removing a marker is no great loss.

Here's the source of the wobbly straps... the hole the spring bars pass through has been wallowed out by time and wear.  I have no doubt that a talented jeweler or goldsmith could fill the hole with 14K gold and drill it back to a proper diameter.  That will be important as eventually this little strip of gold will give way, and then there will be real trouble.

Everything is taken apart, thoroughly cleaned and dried before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.  You can see I've already replaced the missing marker - the dial already looks much better.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with a fine motion.  It's a teensy bit slow but a very minor tweak to the regulator will speed it up.

There... 3 seconds fast per day will do nicely.

Looking at my record book, my last project was completed on August 22nd, 2020, almost 8 months ago!

My light tent and usual photo setup is still missing in a myriad boxes but here's a finished shot using good ol' sunlight.  The lines near the 11 marker are actually creases in the finish from the dial being bent at some point.  Getting the case repaired and the dial refinished (I'd go with black) and this would be one special watch and the pride of any Hamilton collection.