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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.


  1. One of the most enjoyable blogs on the internet; thank you.

  2. Never too late to start! Heritage Auctions has many 14k Hamiltons on auction March 27. https://jewelry.ha.com/c/search/results.zx?term=hamilton&si=2&dept=2676&live_state=5318%7E5319%7E5320%7E5321%7E5324&auction_name=21165&mode=live&page=48%7E1&ic=KeywordSearch-A-K-071316

  3. Really good looking watch.