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Sunday, July 31, 2022

1932 Oakmont

 I recently posted about the 1969 Liberty Coin - a pretty rare model.  If you liked that post, you'll like this one too - it's a 1932 Oakmont.  The Oakmont was made for only three years and at the height of the Great Depression it's no surprise that Hamilton only produced 431 models in yellow gold.  They also produced models in white gold and you'll find quite a few used as sales awards for Packard automobiles, as well.

The Oakmont is part of the model line of premier wrist watches named after famous resorts / golf courses.  The line includes the Piping Rock, Coronado, Meadowbrook, among others.

In 1932 you could get the Oakmont in either a luminous dial or the applied gold numeral dial configuration.  The luminous version cost $75 and the AGN version required an additional $5 upcharge.  That's over $1600 in today's dollars.

My Oakmont project watch arrived in "some assembly required" condition.  The crystal was off (and chipped) the bezel was off, the back was off, and the hands were missing in action.  I had no idea what I was going to be in for.

The 979F was Hamilton's premier movement of the time.  It had 19 jewels, two more than the 987F used in other men's models.  The F stands for Friction, as the jewel setting (chatons) are pressed in place and held by friction instead of screws like the previously made 987 / 979 movements.  Other than that, they are identical calibers.  The 979 also featured a solid gold center wheel.

This movement looks okay.  However, the placement of the regulator at well-past fast is a little disconcerting.  Notice the male pins on the lugs - this model will require female spring bars to mount a strap.

Everything gets disassembled and throughly cleaned.  I'll put it back together carefully with fresh lubricants and then try to diagnose any issues I find... assuming there are any.

Well... it's ticking away with a good motion,  This looks promising.  I set the regulator to the midpoint to see where things land.

Hmmm... running about 4+ minutes slow.  That explains the position of the regulator.

There are two screws on the end of the balance arms that are for timing adjustments.  They are like the arms of a spinning figure skater... draw them in to spin faster and let them out to slow down.  You have adjust both the same amount though to maintain the poise of the balance.

Adjusting the balance is stressful and tedious work.  One false move and you will ruin the hairspring or break a balance pivot.  Each adjustment requires reassembly and placing the movement back on the timer to see how things look.

After four tries, countless drips of sweat on my forehead and all the salty language I learned in the Navy, I've got the balance looking good.  I made multiple tweaks on the timer and stopped when it was running just smidgeon fast with a great beat error.

Now to address the crystal.  I have a cushion shaped glass crystal but it's too large.  I can try to sand it down to shape but it will take a while.

My glass crystal didn't work out... I chipped it.  So plan B is to use a plastic crystal.

For the final step I had to open the strongbox, in the back of the safe, inside the vault, guarded by my two doberman's Zeus and Apollo, to get my stash of female spring bars.  Try finding some of these someday - you want to talk rare?

I put black spear hands on the finished watch.  That was pretty common back in the day but when I got the catalog snips for this post I realized that gold hands would be appropriate.  So I'll have to dig through my stash and find some.  Otherwise this watch looks fantastic and I'm sure its owner will be delighted with it.

There... I dug another set of hands out of my stash.  Now this watch is perfect.