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, October 29, 2023

1953 Lindsay

 My blog has over 816 posts which makes me wonder how many unique models I've detailed.  A quick count shows I've documented 686 wrist watch models and another 34 pocket watch models.  There are about 1,000 unique wrist watch models and the ones that remain to be found are, obviously, more obscure, either rare, solid gold, or just way too expensive for my tastes.

I've posted on my project watch previous but this is a one year wonder, the 1953 Lindsay, so you don't see if very often.  It came in a 10K gold filled case and looks similar to several other models from the time.  Perhaps that was the reason it was only produced for a single year.  It was available on a leather strap or a metal bracelet.

Tucked inside the case is a 17 jewel 12/0 sized 752 movement.

As received, the project watch is in pretty good shape.  The crystal is a bit beat up but the case looks to be in great condition.

The case back is unengraved and exhibits little wear.

With the crystal out of the way you can see the dial is in very good shape.  The butler finish on the dial looks like it could be a refinished dial but I don't see the little notch on the side of the dial by the crown that is usually present when a dial is redone.

The 752 movement looks similar to a 770 movement.  All that's missing are 5 additional jewels and a shock protected balance.  Should this 752 ever fail, a 770 would be a suitable drop in replacement.

The inside of the case back is stamped with the model name.

With the dial removed from the movement, I can see numbers scratched on the back.  That's a clear sign that this dial was refinished.  Refinished dials on Hamilton watches is very common.  It was even done at the factory when a watch was sent to Lancaster for service.  Many people with "original dials" actually have old properly refinished dials.

A new glass cylinder crystal will make a huge improvement to the looks of this watch.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.

Unlike my last project watch, this movement came together with no issues.  It's now ticking away with a nice motion.  Time to see what the timer thinks.

It's running a smidgen slow.  The amplitude of 201 is attributable to the fact that I haven't fully wound the mainspring.  

Fully wound with a slight tweak to the regulator, the beat rate is right where is needs to be.  I usually set a freshly serviced watch a little fast, as it will settle in.

With a new crystal and paired with a new genuine lizard strap, this Lindsay is looking fantastic and ready for some wrist time.

Friday, October 27, 2023

1951 Craig

 It's been a while since I had a new model to showcase on the blog.  

I was recently sent a 1951 Craig in need of some TLC.  You don't tend to see them very often but I don't know if I'd call it "rare".  The model was introduced in 1951 and produced for two years.  So it's arguably an uncommon model, relative to the models made for longer periods of time.

The watch was purchased at auction and listed as "serviced" but I usually take that with a large grain of salt.  As you'll see in this post, my advice to collectors is to "first buy the seller", as in "are they credible, do they accept returns, etc?".

My immediate impression upon opening the package was the dial is refinished and the wrong second hand is installed.  The watch is NOT running.

From a slightly different angle you can see the plastic crystal is cracked.

With the bezel out of the way I can see there is glue on the dial between the 5 and 6 hours.  So someone glued the crystal in with the dial installed, or they didn't let the glue dry before assembling the case. 

Tucked inside the case of the Craig you will see an 8/0 sized 747 movement.  The 730 movement would eventually replace the 747 but not during the production range of the Craig.  The movement looks clean but the balance doesn't swing freely.

The inside of the case back is clearly marked with the model name.  This was fairly common in the 1950s.

The back of the dial reveals the obvious tells that the dial is refinished.  There are numbers scratched in and glue applied to keep the rivets holding the gold figures in place.

So what exactly does a "serviced watch" imply?  After the 15+ years I've been collecting Hamiltons I have seen a lot of different excuses for "service".  One example is fresh oil is applied to all the jewels... bang - serviced!  Another is you take the dial and hands off and then bathe the fully-assembled movement in a cleaning solution, then dry it and add oil.  Then you have the "take apart, clean, and reassemble" process - that's not too bad but there are some parts that you really ought to check before reusing.  The last example is what you see me illustrate... fully disassemble, clean, inspect, and reassemble with proper lubrication, and finally - time the watch so that it's got a good beat error, amplitude and beat rate.

The mainspring barrel on this watch does not look freshly cleaned and I can immediately tell you the mainspring is likely "set" in a tight(ish) coil.

There... as I thought, the coil is a little larger than a quarter.  This mainspring would power a watch for less than 24 hours.  I would not have called this a "serviced" watch (not to mention it doesn't even run).

The owner sent along a plastic crystal but I happen to have a glass version.  Originally the watch would have had a glass crystal - it's a Hamilton, after all.  I jest a little but in all seriousness, in 1951 this watch cost roughly $61.  That's equivalent to $720+ in 2023 dollars.  This was not an inexpensive watch.

I'll prep a new Dynavar mainspring to power the watch.  With a fresh mainspring the watch should run in excess of 35 hours.

Everything is cleaned, dried, and ready to be reassembled.

Despite my best efforts - I could not get the movement to run.   I suspect that this watch was "serviced" by someone who screwed it up somehow, got frustrated, and then sold it on eBay.  I've had to walk in other people's footsteps before... sometimes it's a mine field.

On to plan B... repeat the process with a donor movement.  Actually that was plan C.  Plan B was to use other parts like pallet forks and balances on the original movement and no-dice.  There is something seriously amiss with the original movement.  Like Dirty Harry said, "A man has got to know his limitations"... I am not equipped nor skilled enough to fix every issue a watch can have.  I'm not the first person to think of swapping movements and it's totally okay as long as it's an appropriate caliber.

So ... fast forward to a new movement and the reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion.

The watch timer agrees - this watch is running very nicely.

The finished project is complete with a new glass crystal and a proper second hand.  It now looks and runs exactly as a "serviced watch" ought.