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Sunday, May 23, 2021

1954 Clifford

 Arguably the most frequently asked question I receive is "what's my watch worth?".  The easiest answer is, "It depends".

Some watches are surprisingly common... like the 1941 Martin so they don't really command a premium unless they are exceptional examples.  Other watches are less common, and you're lucky to find them in any condition, like a 1936 Randolph.  It wasn't even shown in catalogs.  Then you have the class of watches that are popular designs but plentiful... like an Electric Pacer.  Lastly, you have popular designs that also less common, like a Pacermatic.

Determining what something is worth is a factor of how common it is, how popular it is, and, of course, what condition it is in.

One thing is for sure, if the case is solid gold it's worth more than the melt value of the case (unless the case is totally trashed).

My project watch is an interesting example to try to value.  It's a 1954 Clifford.  It was only made for two years and came in a fairly large (for the time) solid 14K gold case.  It retailed for $135 in 1954... that's about $1,300 in todays currency.

In 1955 the Clifford was also offered with a diamond-set dial for the equivalent of another $1000 in today's dollars.  Good luck finding one of those!

Tucked inside the case you will likely find a 19 jewel 754 movement unless the watch is from the later part of 1955 when the 22 jewel 770 came out.

My project watch came to me in pretty good shape.  The owner had a difficult time getting it serviced previously and waited over a year to get it back.  That's a common experience, based on what people often tell me.

Looking closely at the dial, I can see that it's been refinished.  It's not bad, but the Hamilton font isn't correct and the seconds register is the wrong shape.  More often than not, the seconds register is the same shape as the bezel opening.  So I'd expect a square register for this dial and the catalog images support that assumption.

I don't care for the bracelet on this watch.  This one-size-fits-most design has spring loaded ends that will wear grooves into the case lugs.

The back of the case is clearly marked Hamilton and 14K Gold.  L&K is the case maker.  I get a lot of emails from people with watches that have aftermarket cases.  As a general rule you will see Hamilton on the back of the case and definitely inside the case back.  If you don't see it... buyer beware.

No surprise here.  The 19 jewel 754 movement replaced the 982M in solid gold models and it even kept the gold enamel in the engraving that the 982M had.  It's basically the same as a 19 jewel 753, just a little prettier, I suppose.

Everything is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned.

The reassembled and freshly lubricated movement is ticking away with good motion.  Next stop is the timer to listen to the ticking.

It's running a little fast but otherwise looks fantastic.

A slight tweak of the regulator slows it down.  I might tweak it again so that it's running a little fast.

A fresh black leather strap compliments this watch much better than that beater Speidel bracelet.  As for the question, "what is it worth?"  I would say, "try to find another".  Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.


  1. Handsome watch, Dan. Looks like a pretty good size as well.

  2. There is a very similar model in 14k gold released in 1957, a Sutton. I think that model could be as rare as the Clifford!

    1. The 58 Sutton is also a rare bird. I haven't come across one yet.

  3. Interesting that my 14K Hamilton 'Roger' from 1955 also has a circular seconds register - an incorrect refinish to the square original.

  4. I love the Blog. The Clifford is such a good looking watch and as is happens, I have one with the diamond dial. It came to me from my grandfather and I've cherished it since the late '90's. This watch runs beautifully and looks stunning on a brown leather band. And wouldn't you know it...I get compliments every time I wear it. If anyone wants to see pictures, I'd love to show them.