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Saturday, January 6, 2024

1941 Lexington - styled in steel

The winds of war were blowing in 1941, even though the Pearl Harbor didn't occur until almost 1942.  The Hamilton Watch Company must have had some insights though, as the 1941 catalog contained several watches that were introduced with "the military man" in mind.  I'm sure more than a few would see action across the world in a few short years.

One of the new models was the Lexington - an interesting choice since the US Navy's second aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington CV-2 would be sunk at the battler of the Coral Sea in May, 1942.

The Hamilton Lexington was the first model in Hamilton's line up to utilize stainless steel.  It was produced until Hamilton's factory became dedicated to WWII production and was discontinued thereafter.  So it's a fairly uncommon model and will often sell for considerable value.

If you take a close look at the catalog graphic, the watch is clearly depicted on the arm of a military officer.

My project watch arrived after suffering a mishap and being dropped - resulting in a broken crystal.  As received, the movement was not running but hopefully all it will need is a good cleaning.

Watches without crystals run the risk of damaging hands and "dial rash" - where stuff touches the dial an leaves marks.  There is definitely something on the dial on the left side by the 9, as well as a few marks here and there.  Getting this dial under a crystal as soon as possible was an excellent decision.

The back is clearly engraved with the original owner's name.

With the bezel out of the way, you can see that this round dial is actually on top of a 14/0 sized movement that is typically used in long, rectangular cased models.  That tells you that the Lexington is actually a fairly small watch by today's standards

Based on the number of marks inside the case back I can see that this watch has been serviced many times over the last 80 years.  One of the marks is interesting... it's a cross on a hill with several stars in the sky.

The 17 jewel 980 movement is in decent shape but it's obviously been a while since it was cleaned,  The serial number, G344382, dates to 1941 just as you'd expect to see.

The back of the movement is unremarkable and has no obvious signs of having been refinished over the years.  So it's actually in really good condition, considering it's age.

In my experience, 90% of the 980, 982 or 982M movements that I see will have a blue steel mainspring that will need to be replaced.  This watch is no exception.  Blue steel mainsprings are fine but they eventually "set" in place and lose a lot of their potential energy.

As expected, this mainspring extends out to about the size of a Quarter.  It would probably power the watch for about 12 hours - tops.  A new white alloy spring will triple that run time.

A new glass crystal is definitely called for.  This one is a smidgen large so I will need to carefully sand it until it fits in the bezel opening.

All of the parts are cleaned and dried.  I didn't do much to clean the dial as the school of hard knocks has taught me well that cleaning a decent dial can make it look terrible.

Glass crystals are held in place with UV glue.  I place the crystal and bezel under a UV lamp to cure while I try to get the movement sorted out.

The freshly cleaned and oiled movement is ticking away with a good motion and sitting on my timer.

It's running well but a little slow.  Notice the regulator is set to the slow side so I'll just move it up a smidgeon and speed it up.

It doesn't take much to bring the beat rate up to be right in line.

All that's left is to put the dial and hands back on and install in the case.  The finished project now looks as good as it runs, and it runs great.

I can see why the Lexington is such a popular model - it's really a classic design.  Black dialed watches are always popular and with a nicely polished case this model is really a looker.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a internet wanderer and I have to admit that watches for me are just a item for the telling me the time .

    But the more I've read and dived a little more into your page ,the more interested I became .

    So much so I picked up a 1950 Sherwood on this side of the pond ( overhauled and looking like new ) keeps good time ,then I realised that the crystal I have is more pronounced, but actually it's not that bad of a move it certainly protects the lugs from wear .

    I teamed it up with a Hirsch croco.grain strap in green ,and the green and gold really do look good .

    So much so the comments I've had and interest that's piqued .

    Now you're blog has me intrigued to pick up 1 or 2 other Hamiltons of pre 1950 vintage .

    But it seems all the decent 1s are over on your side of the "pond ". 🤭