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.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

1931 Square B - Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Another year has come and gone and it's time for my annual Christmas post.

2022 has been a difficult year and to it I say, "good riddance".  It is reminiscent of Charles Dickens', "A Tale of Two Cities... 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Dickens' words reminds me of a passage from Ecclesiastes.  You may recall this from the 1965 Bird's song, "Turn! Turn! Turn!". 

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace."

This past year checked almost every box in that passage for me, other than "born" and "war". 

Although eclipsed by the importance of Easter, Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I like to take time off during Advent to get in the holiday spirit.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and it symbolizes God's gifts of faith, hope, and love.   Life can present many challenges, but it's less difficult when you have faith, hope, and love.  

Over 100 years ago, somewhere in the European trenches of World War I, British and German soldiers were slugging it out in unimaginably brutal fashion.  As the story goes, on Christmas Eve of 1914, stanzas of "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) were heard coming from the German trenches.  The British soldiers joined in and both sides raised candles above their picket lines. When the song was finished, a German soldier called out, “Tomorrow is Christmas; if you don’t fight, we won’t.”

The following day, Christmas, the Germans sent over beer and the British sent over pudding.  The two enemies met in No Man's Land, exchanged handshakes, small gifts, and even played a game of soccer.

Fighting resumed on the 26th and continued for four more years.  Christmas brings light into darkness.

My project watch was made 17 years later while the "war to end all wars" was still fresh in everyones' memory.   It's a 1931 Square B.

The Square B was made for only two years.  The model came in solid yellow, green, or white gold as well as gold filled.  The solid gold watches were outfitted with the 6/0, 19 jewel 979-F movement while the gold filled versions received the 17 jewel 987F movement.  You could also chose from an etched dial or a luminous dial.  Models were also made with engraved or plain bezels.

All said, if you wanted an example of every version in both solid gold and gold filled, plain and engraved, with etched and luminous dials, you would eventually assemble a very nice Hamilton collection!  I have already posted an example of the etched dial here.

I happened upon my project watch on eBay and I went after it pretty hard because the case looked fantastic.  It was listed as not running, which is a red flag, but I hoped I'd be able to rescue it.

The other reason I aggressively pursued it was the engraving on the case back..."To Vilgot from Signe, Dec 25, 1931".   Vilgot and Signe are Swedish names and it reminded me of the 1940 movie, "The Shop Around the Corner" with James Stewart.   However, I realized the setting for that movie is actually Budapest, a LONG way from Sweden. 

I think it's safe to say that Vilgot cherished this watch, as it exhibits very minor wear to the case.  The strap may even be original.  Time has not spared the strap though, and it's no longer usable.

It can be difficult to tell green gold from yellow gold but this example is green gold filled.  More specifically it's a green gold filled engraved Square B with luminous dial. The center of the three piece case is also engraved, regardless of the bezel engraving.

The movement appears to be in good shape and the balance moves without a wobble so that's a good sign.

There's already a white alloy mainspring inside the barrel - another clue that Vilgot took good care of his gift from Signe.  I'll clean and reuse it.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.  

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion, time to see what the timer picks up.

It's running a wee-bit fast and the beat error is a little over my upper spec limit of 3.0ms.  I'm still licking my wounds from the last 987 I worked on, this 1928 Oval.  The regulator is set to almost full slow so I will have to adjust the balance screws to slow it down.

There... I chose to split the difference and adjust the beat rate but not the beat error.  Now the timing is right on the money but the beat error is still a little high.  A high beat error will cause a watch to stop a little sooner than a watch with a low beat error but otherwise the downside isn't too great, especially on a 91 year old watch.

I removed the old lume from the dial and hands in my watch cleaning solution and reapplied it with modern lume.  I mixed orange and white luminous powder and created a very pleasing mixture as a result.

I have a proper vintage croc strap and added a Hamilton buckle to complete the project.

I applied black enamel to the engravings and a fresh glass crystal to complete the restoration.  This Christmas watch turned out fantastic!  I'm sure Vilgot and Signe would be pleased.

I thought it might be fitting to close this post with a Swedish Christmas blessing in honor of Vilgot and Signe but I couldn't find anything fitting.  Instead I'll offer something from their ancestors, the Vikings and wish you the happiest of Christmases and a prosperous 2023.  

"May your web be spun tightly with that which makes you stronger, happy, and wise.  And may God always look upon you with good grace!"

God Jul! Ha ett gott nytt år!

(Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!)


  1. A Merry Christmas to you, too - and thanks for all those interesting posts this year. Your site is one I keep returning to, there is just so much to discover.
    All the best for 2023!

  2. Second That.!!! As I build my vintage American made Hamilton collection, I consult your great page as my primary Hamilton resource. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you Dan

  3. Merry Christmas. Thank you for this great restoration. Hopefully, 2023 will be just a "best of times" year for you.

  4. Dan, I always enjoy your year end stories and you for taking us along on your journey as well as sharing this gem of a site with us, thanks..DbH

  5. Better late than never, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

    My vintage Hamilton collection remains a solo act, but I still enjoy reading your blog and admiring your work, even when I’m not shopping.

    I hope you continue to enjoy the hobby and to share it with us.