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, March 10, 2024

1964 Thinline 2007

There are a lot of doppelgängers in Hamilton's line up - watch models that look like other models.  Sometimes the only thing different is the dial... like the Secometer and the Sentinel.  Other times the only thing different is the case material, like the 14K GF Clark and the 10K GF Yorktowne.  

I think one of the most subtle doppelgängers out there are the 1964 Rayburn and the 1964 Thinline 2007.

The Rayburn was introduced in 1962 and is probably the more common of the two to find in the wild.  To the trained eye the models look almost identical.  There is a slight difference to the side of the bezel and you might get really picky and say the Thinline 2007 has a shorter hour hand, but that could be just the creative license of the illustrator.  They both have the same very uniquely stylized numerals at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions.

The most obvious way to tell them apart is the Thinline 2007 will say SWISS at the bottom of the dial, while the Rayburn will not.  The latter uses a USA-made 770 movement.  The Thinline uses a Swiss-made Hamilton 687 caliber.

My project watch is in decent shape with the tell-tale signs of having been on a metal bracelet - there are grooves worn into the lugs.  Fortunately it's not too bad.  I typically recommend a leather strap over a bracelet, especially if it's not the original bracelet paired to the watch.

The case lives up to the name of the model line - it's really thin and very flat on the back.  There's an obvious lip for a case knife so you know this is a two-piece case.

Without the beat up crystal in the way, I see two dents where the dial feet secure the dial onto the movement.  One at the 5 marker and the other between 10 and 11.  So someone has gotten into this case at some point and was a little rough on the dial.

If you have a keen eye you may notice there's a screw missing in the barrel bridge - at the 6 o'clock position in the photo below.  That's another clue that someone's been here before me and they lost a screw in the process.

The inside of the case back is unscathed by any watchmakers' marks.  That's interesting, as I'm definitely walking in someone's footsteps.  There are two numbers in the case.  The S number is a unique serial number known only to S&W, the case maker.   It has no significance.  S114637 or S114535 could be ould be for a different model or even a different watch company, depending on the size of the batch this case was made in.  The other number is the model number.  It ends with 64 - that's a clue that this is a 1964 model and every Thinline 2007 will have this number inside.

Everything is taken apart and cleaned.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion.  You can't see it in the photo but you can tell when a watch is running well just by looking at the hairspring.  It "breathes" as it extends and contracts with every beat.

I accidentally deleted the photo of the watch's performance on the timer but it had a 9.9ms beat error.  It was way out of beat.  

If you notice the position of the hairspring stud above, it's very close to the balance cock.  I had to move it clockwise significantly to get the balance centered and reduce the beat error. 

As you can see below, the beat error was reduced to 0.2ms - almost perfect.

Compare the position of the balance cock in the photo below and you'll see how far off it was originally.

A quick tweak to the position of the regulator speeds up the watch.  Now the timing is almost right on the money, I tend to leave a watch running a little fast, as it will settle down after a while.

With a new crystal and fresh strap, this 60 year old Hamilton is ready for wrist time.  It's a really nice looking dress watch and would be very comfortable to wear.

Friday, March 8, 2024

My First Fake Hamilton

I bet I've had over 1,500 Hamiltons cross my workbench over the last 15+ years.  I've seen a lot of things but I had never seen an obviously fake Hamilton... until now.  Of course, that may depend on what you define as fake.

"Fake" watches, in my opinion, fall into three categories.

The first are mules or "Frankens" - meaning they are a combination of parts that together do not constitute a legit model.  For example, there are myriad Hamilton "top hats" marketed on eBay with gaudy diamond dials in white gold or platinum cases where the only authentic Hamilton part is the movement inside, presumably from a gold filled case.  I would put watches that have had a quartz movement installed in this category.  Mules are easy to create... use the wrong hands, wrong crystal, wrong dial, etc. and you end up with something other than an authentic model.  They could also be honestly created simply as the result of the movement outlasting it's original case and a jeweler capitalizing on the quality movement with aftermarket parts.

Second would be the "posers" - those are my favorite.  At any given time you can find Hormilton watches for sale with fancy dials and numbers like 25 to make you think they're special.  It's like buying a Rolax, or a Omegu.  It's pretty obvious it's not what it's presented to be but one could argue that it's not presented to be anything other that what it's called.  I put those in the "a fool and his money" category where you should know better than to buy one.

The last category is a watch purposely created to appear to be authentic.  I find these watches abhorrent.  They are marketed to deceive people and should be smelted when found.

I had someone send me a watch they purchased and wanted overhauled.  I was pretty sure it was fake but they insisted on sending it.  There's always a chance that I was wrong so I agreed to look at it.  I even sent photos to my friends at Hamilton in Switzerland to see what they thought.  We all agreed it was bogus.

I decided to post it to the blog anyway so you'd know what to look for and can protect yourself from accidentally tripping over this stone.

Looking at the watch, you might think this was a 1970s model or maybe from the dark ages of the 1980s.  However, the hands are painted, not luminous.  The dial markers appear like diamonds (sort of) but they're really just chamfered squares.  "17 jewels shock proof" is crisply printed but the Hamilton and H logo are soft,a different color, and look like they were added later.  The H logo doesn't look like the Hamilton H but it's close.

Check out the crown - it has an H but it's not really a Hamilton looking H.

The back of the watch says nothing... no numbers, no markings whatsoever.  The fit and finish of the case is very rudimentary and definitely not the quality I'd expect from Hamilton.

The inside of the case back says Hamilton W. Co. but nothing else.  The H logo again appears to be close but no cigar in appearance relative to what the H logo should be.

The movement inside is very crudely finished.  It says Swiss Seventeen Jewels and  there's yet another Hamilton and H that is different than all the rest.  It's interesting that the train bridge says Swiss and the barrel bridge does too - that's a lot of Swiss.  Check out the quality of the movement ring... plastic.

I was unable to get the stem to come out of the case tube.  I was able to remove the movement but then I had to remove the crown to get the stem out of the case.  This level of quality is unheard of for any Hamilton I've ever come across.

The person who sent the watch asked me to overhaul it anyway so I'll show you the rest for funs sake. 

First I got out my broaches to ream the inside of the stem tube so I can reinstall the stem once the watch is reassembled. 

I usually don't check the timing a watch before an overhaul but in this case I wanted to know what I was in for.  The watch is ticking but the timer doesn't know what to make of it.

The dial was held on with a sticky "dial dot" because the movement is missing a dial foot screw.

Looking at the the movement, it's marked FHF, ST and 96.  That's very interesting.  First off, FHF is the mark of "Fabrique d'Horologerie de Fontainemelon".  It was never used along with ST, as far as I know.  There is a ST logo but in the 1960s Standard Time's logo was a shield with INT inside.  So it would really depend on who owned Standard if and when this movement was made.

Oddly, if I recall correctly, Hamilton owned Standard for a period but they didn't use Standard movements in Hamilton watches.  They did use them in the Vantage line, though. For example, check out this blog post on a Hamilton Vantage model I did a while back.  Nothing Runs Like a Hamilton.

So I'd say even the logo for this movement is fake but it is based on  a caliber 96.  

With the balance removed, you can see the FHF ST and 96 on the other side of the main plate.  The fit and finish of this movement is very crude but it is fully jeweled so it's not the same level of crap you'll find in a Hormilton Electra 25.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  I plan to use a dial foot screw from another donor so dial dots won't be needed to hold the dial on.

The reassembled movement is ticking away - now to see if it's actually keeping time.

It took some tweaking but I'd say it's keeping decent time.  This really isn't a quality movement so this is as good as it's going to get.

The finished watch looks as good as it did before I started.  However it's still a fake Hamilton and isn't anything more than an interesting conversation piece.  

This is the one and only fake Hamilton I will ever work on though.  I took it on solely to show you what to look out for so you don't get accidentally duped.  Fortunately you don't see these kinds of watches often.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

1940 Midas

 I'm often asked what I think about this model, or that model, by people who see things for sale.  There are a tremendous number of Hamilton models and surely something for everyone.  

That said, if I were to do it all over again I'd be tempted to limit my collecting to only solid gold models.  I haven't counted them but I'd guess there are over 200 out of the roughly 1,100 men's model produced through 1969.  My logic is simple.  First, solid gold models where always the best that Hamilton produced.  Nacho Libre would agree.

Second, it cost just as much to maintain a solid gold watch as it does the least expensive rolled gold plated model.  Watches need to be serviced every few years, just like you need to change the oil in your car.  With solid gold models your collection will be much smaller but your maintenance cost will be much less too.

Third, there are so many solid gold models that you can have pretty much anything you're into... automatics, art deco, asymmetric, you name it, it's available in solid gold.

I'd say the only downside to solid gold is you're pretty much in the dress watch genre and you're not likely to want to wear a solid gold watch with sweat pants.

Anyway, if you're into solid gold models and especially like the 1940's era, one of the options you could consider is the Midas.  Even the name implies solid gold.

The Midas was produced through 1946, with a few years off to fight WWII.  It's one of the models that was also produced for a year or two in solid rose gold, or coral gold in Hamilton parlance.  

The Midas is interesting in that it spans the transition from 982 movements to 982M movements.  Prior to 1940 Hamilton used the 19 jewel 982 in solid gold models and the gold filled models received the 17 jewel 980 movement.  After 1940 the 982M, as in medallion, movement was used in solid gold models and the 982 went into 14K gold filled cases.  The 980 was used in 10K gold filled cases and stainless steel cases. 

So that's a long way of saying you may find a Midas with a 982 or a 982M movement, the former likely being a 1940 example if the movement serial number agrees.

My project watch has some stories it could tell.  The dial is a mess and the hands are a little too long and they're rhodium plated (so they look silver). 

The back of the case is nicely engraved with the original owner's initials.  It looks like it also has some DNA too under the hooded lugs.

With the bezel and plastic crystal out of the way, you can get a better look at the dial.  There's a marker missing from the 5 position and the printing appears to be a decent example of a refinished dial.

The movement inside is a 982M that dates to about 1942.

It's hard to decipher watch maker marks but there are 8 to 10 marks inside the case back, demonstrating this watch has some mileage on it and was well maintained.

The back of the dial tells the tale and I can see a couple of different sets of numbers scratched into the silver - a clear sign that this dial has been refinished a couple of times.  Refinished dials are not huge detractors in Hamilton watch values.  Sure, an original dial is always preferred but a lot of people with "original dials" really have refinished dials that were redone when the watch was serviced by Hamilton at some point.  As long as the pattern used is correct, it really doesn't make much of a difference.

I'm surprised with all the service marks to see a blue steel mainspring still inside the barrel.  There's a high possibility this spring has set in place.

Yup - the spring has lost much of it's potential energy.  I'll replace it with new white alloy spring.

While the parts are being cleaned I will prep a new glass crystal for installation.

I was able to get some of the funk off the original dial on the left but some of it is just too far gone.  I have another Midas dial on the right that is a little better but still not perfect.

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

Frozen in time by my camera, the movement is ticking away with a nice motion and sitting on the timer.

Not too shabby but I can speed it up a smidgeon.  I prefer to have a watch run a little fast after an overhaul as they usually settle down after a while.

It doesn't take much to get it to speed up a little.  This timing is definitely acceptable.

The finished watch looks much better than what I started with.  A new glass crystal goes a long way just on it's own.  Proper hands are also an improvement.  The watch still looks like it's 80 years old but I bet most 80 year old people would like to look this good.  Paired with a nice genuine croc strap, this watch is ready for some more wrist time.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

1939 Bowman

 Tubular lugs must have been in fashion in the 1930s.  Several Hamilton models featured unique lug styles.  Some, like the Dodson and Sutton were made for a few years.  Others were short lived, like the 1939 Bowman.  It's a one-year-wonder.

The late 1930's also featured a lot of models that were "curved to fit the wrist" and the Bowman is in that genre.  Priced at a mere $52.50, that doesn't sound like a lot of money but that would set you back $1,100 today.  

Cased in gold filled and being rectangular shaped, you can expect to find the 17 jewel 980 movement tucked inside.  The 19 jewel 982 was for solid gold models until 1940, when the 982M was introduced.

My Bowman project watch appears to be in decent shape.  Mechanical watches should be cleaned and oiled every few years so even though this Bowman looks great, it could certainly be due for a service.

Looking at the dial, there are no obvious signs that it's been refinished (like a notch by the three) but I suspect based on the general appearance that it has been redone at some point.  It looks fine though so that wouldn't impact the value.

Sure enough, there's a 980 movement behind the dial.  The serial number dates the movement to 1938 but Hamilton watches were like cars and the new year models typically came out in the Fall of the prior year.  So this is most likely the original movement.

The back of the movement has some numbers scratched into it so this dial has definitely been refinished over the years.

Everything is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion.  Time to see what the timer thinks.

Not too bad, a smidgen slow but if you look at the regulator above, it's set to the slow side. 

A couple of minor tweaks to the regulator brings of the beat rate to just a smidgeon fast.  The amplitude and beat error are well within specs.

I polished the plastic crystal and the finished project looks as good as it runs!