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.

Monday, November 15, 2021

1955 Illinois Debonair G

One of the most popular genres of classic cars are the muscle cars of the 1960s and 70s.  Driving one today, 50 years later, you're sure to turn a few heads and get a lot of thumbs up.  Consider, for example, the Chevy Nova like this 3rd generation Super Sport model from the late 1960s.  Sweet!

In 1985 the executives at GM decided to reintroduce the Nova... who-wee!  Yeah buddy!  This car was a chick magnet... no?  No.  What were they thinking?

Well, one interesting thing about the 1985 Nova was it was largely based on a Toyota platform.  An American-made car with quality Japanese parts?

I suppose you could say a very similar thing happened 30 years earlier.  Hamilton was the premier American watch brand. The Watch of Railroad Accuracy.  

Times were tough in the 1950's.  The world barely survived WWII and then came the Korean War.  Much of Europe was still recovering and European manufacturers produced excellent time pieces at extremely competitive prices.  So competitive that, one by one, American manufacturers stopped making watches in the US or went out of business entirely.  Eventually Hamilton was the last brand standing, until it too ceased American production in 1969.

Hamilton put up a good fight though.  In 1953 executives reintroduced the Illinois brand that was acquired in the late 1920s when Hamilton Watch Company purchased the Illinois Watch Company.  Illinois also made excellent time pieces and much of their technology was integrated into the Hamilton factory.

Hamilton of the 1950s had to compete with the lower price points of other major brands.  In order to do so, they purchased Swiss-made ebauches (partially complete movements) and cased them in Illinois-branded models as part of the Hamilton line up. 

When all hell failed to break loose, Hamilton added their name to the models and they became Hamilton-Illinois models. 

Eventually the Illinois name was dropped entirely and by 1956 Hamilton branded models with Swiss movements were a permanent part of the Hamilton lineup.  In fact, every Hamilton automatic ever made features a Swiss-made movement.

One of the later additions to the Hamilton Illinois line was the 1955 Debonair G.  It was produced for a single year.  It came on either a bracelet or on a strap.  It has a yellow RGP bezel with a stainless steel back. 

My Debonair G arrived in good original condition for a 60+ year old watch.

The stainless steel back pops on and off.

Tucked inside is an Illinois branded movement.  The letters TXD on the balance cock is not the movement caliber, it's the import code for Illinois.  All Illinois-branded movements feature TXD and eventually Swiss-made Hamilton movements would get their own HYL import code.

The case back is stamped Illinois and the number 9523 is the model number for the Debonair G.  The other number starting with R is the unique serial number of this watch.

The back of the dial features the same model number.

If this caliber looks familiar, it's because it's based on an A. Schild 1200 movement.  The same movement that is the basis of the Hamilton 673.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled with fresh lubrication.

The reassembled movement is running nicely, albeit slightly fast.  That's easily adjusted.

There... 6 seconds fast per day is a nice place to leave it for now.

The completed project looks great.  Not a dramatic improvement over what I started with but still a nice improvement.  However, now it's ready for another few years of wrist time.

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