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Sunday, August 27, 2023

1941 Lester with a black dial?

I find it interesting that some Hamilton models were one-year-wonders while other models were produced for several years.  Some models, like the Boulton were made for decades, in one form or another, and is still made today!

One of the things that could make a model more appealing over the long term was to vary the case material or the dial options.  That was definitely the case with the earlier models from the 1920's and '30s.  

Different dials was still an option in 1941 and one of the models to feature them was the Lester.  It was originally offered with an applied gold numeral dial or with a black numeral dial.

The Lester continued to be produced through 1950 but the dial offering was limited to the AGN dial.

I was recently sent a Lester with a unique dial - a black AGN dial.  This was definitely not a catalogued option but other models at the time did have black dialed offerings.  This model is prone to wear through on the corners of the bezel and this case exhibits quite bit.

The case back is engraved with presumably the original owner's name.  The sides of the back of the case are also prone to wear.

Looking at the dial without the bezel and crystal in the way, it's hard to say if it's original or a really old refinished dial.  It definitely looks authentic.

Looking at the back of the dial it's clearly been custom refinished black.

The movement appears to be in decent condition, albeit a little dingy, but a trip through the ultrasonic cleaner will take care of that.

The mainspring in the barrel is an older blue steel design.  This will surely be set and need to be replaced.

Sure enough, it expands to about the size of a quarter.

A "new" white alloy Dynavar mainspring will give this movement a new lease on life.

The freshly cleaned movement is reassembled and the slight blur to the balance shows that it's ticking away.

The timer thinks it's running a little fast.  The amplitude is a little low but it may pick up as things settle back in place.

A quick adjustment brings the beat rate back in line and the amplitude picked up a bit too.

I happened to have a nicer case and a fresh glass crystal make this Lester a beautiful example, don't you think?


  1. Hello, I have an old Hamilton brand watch but I don't know what year it may be. I hope you can help me find out. I would like to show you a photo of my watch.

    1. Post your photo on reddit in the vintage watches or Hamilton subreddits and you'll get a quick ID.

    2. I sure miss Vintage Watch Forums though….never knew what we had til it was gone.

  2. It is very attractive with the black dial, especially on a black band. I have a white gold Lord Elgin with black dial, which I also like. But the yellow gold and black combo is very good looking.

  3. Nice work as usual Dan. I'm not a huge fan of black dial watches but this one looks pretty good.
    Best regards,