How much wear is too much wear? When I was in college I interned with Hewlett Packard, in Avondale, PA. I got to work with some very talented engineers and it was one of the first, of many, experiences where I learned that I'm not as smart as I sometimes thought I was.
I remember a lot of important lessons from those days. One of them I learned while talking about old cars. The lesson was to always buy a car with a good body and frame, as the mechanical bits were less expensive to fix.
I suppose that could be debated but when you consider the cost in time and money of a really good paint job, you can see there's a lot of merit to the point.
The same is true when it comes to vintage watches. I often get asked about repairing cases or replating them. In general, my response is "don't waste your money". To illustrate my point, check out this "blast from the past" post I did over 10 years ago on "a 1940 Whitman"
Of course there's an exception to every rule and repairing a family heirloom would be money well spent. However, if you're just a general run of the mill collector, "be patient and wait for a better example" would be my advice every time.
Lastly a word about plating... Hamilton's gold filled cases are usually marked 1/20 gold filled. That means that 1/20th of the thickness of the case is solid gold - that's 5%. Typical gold plating is 2-5 microns. 5 microns is the diameter of a human red blood cell. A human hair is 75 microns. So even the slightest polishing or wear would remove the plating you've paid so much to obtain.
So what's all that got to do with a 1968 Accumatic A-606? Well, when's the last time you saw an A-606? My bet is never, until now. It's a one year wonder from the end of the era of Hamilton production in Lancaster PA.
The A-606 is a blingy model with a diamond-edge faceted crystal and a textured bracelet to match. The dial and hands are black and gold. I'm sure it was a real eye-catcher when it was in the jeweler's display case.
I decided the owner of this watch should probably consider getting the case repaired before investing money in an overhaul, crystal and new crown. The case repair could be a deal breaker.
How much do you think an A-606 is worth? You've got the initial acquisition cost, the overhaul, a crown, a crystal, a nice strap, and the repair of all four lugs to consider.
If it was grandpa's watch it would be a no-brainer. But if it's just an eBay special, what would you do?