2021 has finally almost come to a close. It has been an eventful year for us - lots of change to adjust to but also a new normal has been established. We completed our move from Pennsylvania to the "motherland" of Virginia and we're finally all settled into our new home outside Shenandoah National Park. In fact, I unpacked the final box in my workshop this past week!
Christmas is here at last and it's wonderful to celebrate the holiday in our new home.
If you've followed my blog for a while you probably know that my favorite models are those with Christmas presentations and I have an interesting model to share with you this time.
One of my personal Christmas traditions is to watch "A Christmas Carol" at least once each Advent. Normally I'm able to get in a few different versions before the 25th rolls around. I think the best version is the 1951 adaptation with Alastair Sim but the 1984 version with George C Scott is a close second.
Of the four ghosts that visit Scrooge, my favorite is Jacob Marley. To me he is the scariest. Dickens' description of him inspires the imagination and the 1951 and 1984 versions capture his character the best, in my opinion.
I'm often asked, "How's the watch business?" and I always reply, "It's just a hobby" as I don't make my living restoring watches, nor do I think I'd really like to (it can be very frustrating).
However, Jacob Marley reminded me this year about one of things I really do enjoy about restoring watches.
If you're not an aficionado of Scrooge, let me remind you that Jacob Marley was Scrooge's long time friend and business partner. He died on Christmas Eve and was gone seven years when he visited Scrooge on December 24th, presumably while in purgatory atoning for his sins he accumulated while alive.
Marley admonished Scrooge to change his ways while he still could, as the "chains he forged had grown to a ponderous length". Scrooge replied. “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," implying that surely things weren't as dire as Marley described.
As Dickens wrote, "Business! cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
It made me think, so how is the watch business? One of reasons that I enjoy taking on other peoples' projects is that I feel I bring a little joy into the world with every watch I restore.
For example, I recently restored a 1951 Bailey for a woman after her 90+ year old father dropped his high school graduation present. It was run over by a car and hopelessly destroyed. He was devastated.
Imagine her (and his) delight when they opened the package and saw his restored watch, almost as good as new! The original inscribed case back and movement serial numbers were the same - so the watch still aligns with it's original box and paperwork.
Pretty much every Hamilton watch collector that I know got their start in the hobby by inheriting a "priceless" heirloom from an ancestor, their father, or grandfather. Every family watch that I restore brings a little joy into the world.
So my "watch business" is good. It's very good.
The watch I'd like to feature this Christmas is a very unique model from 1962 called the Golden Tempo "R". It was produced through 1964. Priced originally at $100 in 1962, it rose to $110 in 1964. That would be about $920 in today's currency.
The catalog image just doesn't do the actual watch justice. The Golden Tempo "R" has a multicolored striped and textured dial. It's cased in 10K yellow gold fill and it was paired with a matching multicolored metal bracelet! It really makes a statement... maybe not a statement that you'd like to make but a statement nonetheless.
Tucked inside the case is a 22 jewel 770 movement - the flagship caliber in Hamilton's wristwatch lineup.
My project watch arrived via eBay and I was really excited to get it. I've only seen two other examples of this model in the past. It arrived in "okay" shape... the crystal was the wrong style (too tall) and the crown had obviously been replaced. Only a purist would make those observations though.