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, April 30, 2023

1961 Pacermatic (Pacer A)

You don't get to see uncommon watches every day.  I guess that goes without saying, as they wouldn't be uncommon if you did see them every day.  I've already documented the 1961 Pacermatic but I had the opportunity to restore another and thought you'd like to see another one.

The Pacermatic is one of the mechanical asymmetric models and is extremely popular - so popular that they have been faked over the years.  It was only cataloged for a single year and it uses the same case the the Electric Pacer - so when it is "faked" it simply that a mechanical movement is put in an Electric Pacer case in an attempt to make an $800 watch a $3000 watch.

The Pacermatic is technically part of the K-series of automatics in that it utilizes a 17 jewel 667 movement like the other K-series models of the time.  The case is a two tone design with a yellow gold filled bezel and white gold filled lugs.  The dial says "automatic" and Swiss but is otherwise similar to the Electric Pacer.  To fake a Pacermatic you'd also have to modify the dial printing as well as the dial feet locations.

The back of this one has a presentation from Nonie and Grandpa so there is no doubt that this is a treasured heirloom.  The date of '63 isn't too unusual as models could sit on a jeweler shelf for a year or two.  This watch doesn't show too much wear, but it is a bit dirty.

The real tell for an authentic Pacermatic is the serial number of the case.  Cases for the Pacermatic came in two batches so their serial number falls into two ranges.  The case serial number should fall into the range of 528500-528800 (300 of in this run) or 637700-638200 (500 in this run).  Based on the range of the serial numbers, you can assume there were a total of 800 Pacermatics made.  This case falls comfortably in the middle of the second batch of numbers.

The 667 movement looks very good.  That's not too surprising as there are about 10 prior watchmaker service marks inside the case back.

The dial shows some rubbing on the right side.  I noticed the movement was a little loose in the case and could rotate a smidgen.  That will wear on the dial for sure.  It looks like the original dial to my eye.

The plastic crystal that came in the watch is beat so I'll replace it with proper glass crystal while all the parts are in the ultrasonic.

Everything is ready to be reassembled.

The basic mechanical movement is ticking away with a good motion.  Time to see what the watch timer thinks before putting the rest together.

Just a smidgen slow.  It won't take much of an adjustment to speed it up.

There... right on the money.

The finished watch looks fantastic with a new crystal.  This watch isn't perfect but it's an all-original version of a Pacermatic and would be the pride of any Hamilton collection for sure!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

1954 Automatic K-500

About six years ago I did a post on a mystery watch that turned out to be an Automatic K-500  from 1954.  The K-500 was not cataloged but it did show up in a number of advertisements.

The K-500 is a very interesting model as it has several different dials and it's one of very few models that had a stainless case but gold dial markers and hands.

I recently had the opportunity to work on another K-500, this time with a black dial with a unique textured design.  As received, it was very beat up and in serious need of some TLC.

The case back is beefy can clearly marked Hamilton.

The inside of the case back is marked with 9959, the same model number as my other K-500 project.

Inside the case is a partial movement.  It's missing the automatic framework and rotor.  The first question is what caliber is this... a 658 or a 661?  One thing is for sure, this movement is wound tight - and that is very odd for an automatic, as an automatic is designed to wind continuously and once the mainspring is tight it will slip a little and allow the automatic to keep winding.

The precursor to the 661 was the 658.  It was only used in 1954 and for all intents and purposes it's the same as the 661 other than the design of the rotor and connection to the automatic framework.

The 661 rotor is held on with a unique switch design were you move a detent from one side to the other in order to free the rotor from the movement. 

The movement was secured to a movement ring by two screws.  One of them is broken, the screw head is broken in half and will need to be replaced.

The mainspring barrel is lumpy... I've never seen this before.  I suspect the cover was loose so a watchmaker added a bunch of dents to stretch it a little.  I'll clean it with the other parts but I suspect this barrel has been modified to use a manual-winding mainspring with a fixed end.

Everything is cleaned and dried.

I had to replace the barrel, as I suspected and the pallet fork as well, but now the movement is running with a good motion.

Based on the timer it's running a smidgen slow but it won't take much of a adjustment to speed the watch up.

There... running very clean and just a little fast.  The amplitude is a little low.  It may come up as things settle in and I'll have to see how long the watch runs on a full wind.

I decided to go with the 658 rotor and framework.  This movement is now back to the same outfit that it likely had when it left the Hamilton factory almost 70 years ago.

A new crystal and some fresh lume on the hands complete the restoration of this watch.  It now looks and runs much better.  Black dials are very hard to photograph.  The dial is by no means perfect but it looks very authentic.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

1930 Chevy Chase D

I don't focus on ladies watches.  To be honest, there are way too many of them, they tend to be very small, and they all start to look alike.  I don't think that I'm alone in that sentiment.  On any given day of the week you can see them for sale on eBay for under $20.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, some ladies models have their appeal. That said, they are so small that I really don't enjoy working them.

Ladies models have high quality movements though, you could even go as far as to say they are exceptional quality because they are so small and yet just as accurate as any men's model of the day.

One thing I will say for ladies models is if you want to develop skills as a hobbyist watchmaker, you can easily purchase working movements to develop your skills on.  You'll likely by 50 and have 3 working movements when you're finished, but you will definitely develop excellent fine motor skills.

I was recently asked by a collector to work on his Parker B and he sent along his wife's 1930 Chevy Chase D.  I figured I would showcase it on the blog because it uses a movement that also powers a men's model.

The Chevy Chase D was introduced in 1930 and made through 1932.  As you would surmise from the name, there are several Chevy Chase models, the last of which was produced through 1936.

The catalog shows that most women's models of the time used a ribbon strap.  I presume it was made of silk, and it included a nice clasp.

The Chevy Chase D was one of a number of models to utilize the new-to-1930 17 jewel grade 989.  The 989 is an 18/0 size caliber.  Hamilton also introduced ladies models featuring diamonds - those are some of the most popular ladies models but you have to be careful to ensure they are legitimate Hamilton watches.

The 989 was eventually used in the 1936 Norfolk.  The Norfolk is interesting in that it was one of the few men's models to NOT have a second hand.

The Chevy Chase D features a solid 14K gold case with black enamel in the engraved bezel.  Ladies models with enamel are almost as popular as diamond models, perhaps even more so when they feature colors other than black.

Even the crown on this watch is engraved.  This is a very pretty watch.  However, it is not running.

The case is a two piece design with the front bezel snapping onto the case back.  You have to be very careful lifting the movement out of the case, as you'll see in a moment.

Two small screws secure the dial to the main plate and I'll get that out of the way first.

As you can see in the shot below, the balance on a 989 is precariously installed near the end of the oval-shaped movement.  It's very exposed and the balance staff is extremely easy to damage if you are not super-careful.  This balance appears to swing nicely though.

In this time period Hamilton didn't always put it's name inside the case.  Normally you'd expect to see Hamilton Watch Co Lancaster PA inside but in this situation that is not the expectation.

Here's the reason the watch is not running - the mainspring is clearly broken.

I have a replacement but it's not a Dynavar spring.  Hopefully it will do the trick.

Everything is cleaned and dried, just like a men's movement.  However, the parts are so small, that the entirety of the disassembled movement doesn't take up much space.

My camera doesn't show it but the movement is now ticking away with good motion.  I had beads of sweat on my forehead trying to get this back together without breaking anything.

The movement is running with good amplitude.  It's running a smidgen fast and the bear error is just above what I like to see but in this situation it will have to do.  I really don't want to risk damaging the movement by pursuing perfection.  Good is good enough.

The reassembled watch looks pretty much the same as what I started with.  However, it's now running and is ready for some small-wristed wrist time.