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 21, 2022

1954 Automatic K-502

I just realized that I started this blog a little over 10 years ago.  I started it because I had acquired a lot of watches over the preceding years and taught myself how to repair them.  Every new watch was a new accomplishment... the first automatic, the first 748 movement, the first date complication, etc.  They all had a story and my collection grew.

Eventually my bride laid down the law and told me packages needed to go out at the same rate that packages arrived.  So I started the blog to document my efforts and then sold the models to fund new projects, or tools, or supplies.

Now, 10 years later it's interesting to look back at older posts and see how far Ive come. 

One of the models I posted in 2013 was the 1954 Automatic K-502.  My original posting was short and sweet.  Since I recently had an opportunity to restore another K-502, I thought I'd take the opportunity to show a little more detail.

The K-502 is a one year wonder and only shows up in the 1954 catalog.  1954 is also the first year that Hamilton introduced automatic watches, although they tested the waters in 1953 with Illinois branded automatics.  The Illinois watches utilized an ETA-made 1256 caliber.  The Hamilton K-series used another Swiss manufacturer, Kurth Freres, which eventually became part of Certina.

My project watch arrived in typical "as found in a dresser drawer" condition.  The radium on the hands has taken it's toll on the hands and dial but I may be able to clean it up nicely.  The crown on this watch is original and very distinctive.  It reminds me of Omega crowns from the same time frame.

The stainless steel case is very solid - this watch is built like a tank!  Hopefully I'll be able to open it.

The bracelet is original to the watch.  I'm not sure how I know that other than I've seen other examples.  It's not shown in the catalog but there must be other documentation somewhere out there to confirm its originality.  Regardless, it's got a broken rivet but I think it may be repairable.  

Here's the other side of the bracelet and it's clearly made by Kreisler - who made many of the original bracelets paired with Hamilton models in the 1950s.

Success!  The case is open and reveals the Hamilton 661 movement that is in the vast majority of K-series automatics.

Apparently I forgot to take my customary "everything is cleaned and dried" photo so the next step is to reassemble the basics of the movement and get it running again.  Now I can see what the timer thinks of the ticking.

Not too shabby... just a slight tweak to speed it up a little bit.  The beat error is well within my specs and below 3.0ms.  Since it's difficult to adjust on this caliber I'll leave the beat error just as it is.

It took a long time to get the rust off the hands and although they're not perfect, they're a lot better than what I started with.  I added fresh lume to the hands too so they will glow in the dark again.  The watch will forever show the hints of 5:32 thanks to the radium burn from the hands in the same position for decades.

A new crystal and a nice strap complete the restoration.  I'll leave the strap on while I sort out repairing the bracelet.  This watch cleaned up very nicely, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. My father would be glad to see that the watch he wore down the aisle on his wedding day in 1959 is back in service. Much obliged!