One of the most frequent questions I get is, "How much is my watch worth?". That's really a difficult question to answer, there are a lot of factors;
What condition is it in?
When was it last serviced?
What is it made of?
Is it a popular model?
How easy it is to find another?
To me, a really significant question is "who's watch was it?". Tomorrow is Father's Day and I think when a watch was dad's or grandpa's the watch ought to be priceless. I would say at least half the time that doesn't seem to matter to the owner though... which I think is really sad. It just goes to demonstrate how important a responsibility father's have to be good dads and grandpas.
Anyway, one type of watch that I think is hard to put a price on is an ultra-rare model where there are very few examples to base a comparison on. A good example is the 1961 Tuxedo II. It was produced for three years.
In 1961 the Tuxedo II was Hamilton's most expensive model. Priced at $475, it was $100 more than the next most expensive model. That's over $4,000 in today's currency, when adjusted for inflation.
It came in a solid 14K white gold case but the really unique feature was 44 diamonds surrounding the bezel.
In 1962 and 1963 the price was reduced to a mere $450, still the most expensive model by far.
Inside the case is a 22 jewel 770 movement - the flagship movement for Hamilton models made in Lancaster PA.
You have to be REALLY careful with Hamilton models with diamonds. Many, arguably most, that you will see are recased Hamilton movements with aftermarket dials. On any given day you can find a dozen jeweler-cased watches for sale on eBay, usually with steep prices. Always try to see the inside of the case back. If it doesn't say Hamilton Watch Co. Lancaster PA, it's not a legitimate model. It might still be a great watch, but assume the price should be the sum of the materials involved and don't overpay.
My project watch was a lucky find. I have never seen another. It arrived in really nice condition. The only remark I would make is the second hand is unusual - it has an arrow tip and is likely a replacement. On the other hand, Hamilton was known to use what was available when times where hectic, like preparing for the Christmas or graduation seasons.
The back of the case is unengraved. It has some minor scratches but nothing remarkable. This case reminds me of the 1962 Whitford but without the diamonds.
With the bezel carefully removed, I can get a better look at the dial. The H at the 12 position is solid gold but rhodium plated to appear silver in color. The hands and hour marks are black and the curved arcs between the 1 and 2, etc. looks to be silver in color. It's a little hard to tell though.
The 770 movement inside has not seen a good cleaning in quite a while, if ever. Notice the dull haze on the movement.
Here's a look at the inside of the case back - notice the markings. If you don't see this type of marking inside a Hamilton watch... caveat emptor. There are no watchmaker's marks inside the case back. I might be the first person in almost 60 years to overhaul this movement.
Everything is cleaned, dried and ready for assembly.
Notice how bright and shiny the movement is now. The old oil and dirt is gone and fresh oil will keep the delicate pivots from undue wear and tear.
It's running a smidgen fast but a minor tweak to the regulator will bring it right in line.
Well, this is definitely not a watch you're going to wear while mowing the lawn. Paired with a genuine lizard strap that sparkles as much as the diamonds, it will take a special occasion to wear this beauty. You can see I found a much more appealing second hand that matches the baton-style hour and minute hands.
This model is actually surprisingly large... but still small enough for a woman to wear by today's standards.
It's been a while since I've posted a new watch model. So long, in fact, that a number of people have contacted me to check on me and wish me well.
Life has had me up against the ropes lately. I've been busy with other projects, other commitments, and quite a few non-blog-worthy watch projects. But overall I'm doing fine and have lots of blessing to be thankful for.
Thanks everyone for your support!
I do have a few projects waiting in the wings for some TLC. The first one I'll reveal is a 1961 Thin-o-matic T-404. It was produced for three years. As you can see from the catalog depiction, it came with either a black or a white dial. I bet the lizard & gold expansion bracelet was a nice touch too.
The T-404 came in a 10K gold filled case. Tucked inside is either a 17 jewel 663 or a 666, I'm not positive when the latter replaced the former. They're almost identical anyway.
My project watch arrived in well-used condition... perhaps even over-used based on the crown being worn smooth. The metal expansion bracelet is an after market addition and it has spring-loaded ends to provide a one-size-fits-most application. These bracelets are not a good choice for watches like this, as over time they wear grooves into the lugs... sometimes all the way through.
Oddly, this case has a dent protruding from inside the case with a high point resulting in a tiny wear spot, or just a dirt spot - I'm not exactly sure, this watch is very dirty.
Check out this crown - or what's left of it. I didn't realize at first just how worn out this crown was. Only the rubber gasket is still present. One of the most common questions I get from people is, "How waterproof is my watch". My answer is univerally, "Assume it's not" and that definitely applies to this case (pun intended).
As you can see below, this portion of the two-piece stem is a rusted mess and will need to be replaced, along with the crown.
Check out the condition of the dial. It looks like there are grains of sand inside. The luminous paint is gone from the hands so maybe it's that?
This watch has a 663 movement inside, made by Buren Watch Company, which Hamilton would eventually purchase. In fact, when production ended in the Lancaster PA factory in 1969, it was moved to Buren's facility in Switzerland in 1970. This movement is missing a bridge screw so someone has been inside here in the past 60 years. The male-side of the stem is rusty too but not as bad as the female side. Hopefully a trip to the spa will do it some good.
Did I mention that metal bracelets wear grooves into the lugs? Here's a photo for all you nay-sayers out there (you know who you are). I think it's mainly the spring-loaded versions that do it but given enough wear, metal on metal will result in wear and tear.
There's a little rust on the dial side of the main plate - mainly in the set lever. I should be able to clean most of it off though.
I'll get the hands ready for some fresh luminous paint. You apply it to the back of the hands and then let it dry.
Well, I got a little caught up with the challenge of keeping track of the gazillion parts and pieces involved in one of these movements and forgot to take a disassembled movement shot. In the photo below, the movement just about complete. It still needs the balance assembly and the micro-rotor to be reinstalled.
There, the balance is in place and ticking away with a good motion.
My watch timer concurs - this watch is running nicely.
A fresh crystal, cleaned case and relumed hands go a long way toward improving a watch's appearance. Have a crown with knurling doesn't hurt either.
Here's a wrist shot in better lighting. I treated this dial to a "poor-man's refinish" with a gentle cleaning and a light spritz of lacquer. It's not perfect but it's way better than what I started with and getting this dial refinished to look correct would be very hard with the grooved texture in the hour track. This is a nice looking watch now, and it runs even better than it looks.
A couple of weeks ago I did a post on the 1968 Fontainebleau. There are several other Fontainebleu models but only a couple of them are in the US catalogs. One of the non-catalogued models goes simply by the model number 66003-3. The -3 signifies it has a stainless steel case. So it's possible there's a -4 in a yellow case (gold filled, RGP or electroplate) or even a -1 or -2 in solid gold.
Taking a look at my project watch, you can tell that something is amiss. You can also easily identify it as a post 1969 model because it says "Selfwinding" and it has a day of the week complication. Neither of those attributes occurred prior to 1970.
The back of the watch clearly shows the model number and this case is similar in design to the 1969 Odyssey and the Fountainebleu I recently did. It is a challenging case design to open and an even more challenging case to close. The back fits inside the front bezel and a ring compresses the back, dial, crystal and a gasket together as an assembly like a sandwich.
I know someone has been inside this watch before me because the back ring isn't seated properly. Notice the round section over the strap... that should be flat.
As I said above, the movement and dial are held inside the case back and the crystal and a specially formed gasket are sandwiched between the bezel and the case back. Only half of the gasket remains. The movement will come out once I separate the two-piece stem and pull the crown out.
Here's a shot of the caliber 66 movement inside. This movement is used in a few of the 1970's Day-n-Date models and it's based on an A Schild 1876 ebauche. It has a 21,600 beat per hour rate or 6 ticks per second. If you have a good eye you'll notice there's a barrel bridge screw missing (the barrel is under the oscillating weight though).
With the weight moved, the ratchet wheel over the barrel is visible and notice the arbor screw is also broken. Typically I can use a needle to pick the remaining portion of the screw out of the arbor so I can install a replacement.
Both of the dial foot screws are a tad rusty - probably due to moisture getting past the crystal.
I removed the day wheel so I could get an idea of the parts that make up the day and date complications. There is one pesky index spring under the bridge that will fly off if I'm not careful. You can just see the tip of it by the number 6. So I'll listen to the little voice in my head and move to my light tent so I will be able to find it when it inevitably disappears.
Now you can see index spring next to the 6.... no sudden movements or I'll spend the next 30 minutes on my hands and knees looking for the darned thing.
Slowly the front of the mainplate is cleared of parts.
Turning my attention to the back, it's always good to have a photo of the train wheels to refer to when reassembling the movement.
Uh oh... close inspection of the barrel shows that two teeth a buggered up. You can see them below at about 4 o'clock. I'll try to clear them a little but the watch may stop when the barrel turns to engage these teeth. The barrel should be replaced but I don't have a replacement at the moment.
Everything is cleaned and dried before reassembly.
The reassembled movement is now ticking away but I haven't wound it very much. I managed to find the missing bridge screw inside the movement when I disassembled it.
Things look promising... the amplitude should come up once I wind the mainspring more fully.
I was able to clear off the old fingerprints on the dial but it's still not perfect. I'm not sure if there's a scratch by the H or if its dried gunk. There's more gunk by the 6 marker but I'll let sleeping dogs lie and avoid making things worse.
The oscillating weight goes on the back and I'm just about ready to reinstall the movement in the case back.
I polished the crystal as best I could but didn't want to over due it. I'll put a thin o-ring on the crystal to try to take up some of the space that the proper gasket would have filled. I doubt it will provide much of a seal but it should keep things from rattling inside. You should keep vintage watches away from all moisture anyway, even it you think they're "waterproof".
Once the crown is installed I can advance the time until the day and date changes. This movement has a quick set function for the date - you push the stem in. The day of the week is a little more cumbersome to set.
I can use the crown to wind the watch more fully and the amplitude came up over 200. I'm happy with that considering the barrel needs to be replaced anyway. Otherwise the specs look good to me.
This watch looks a lot better, especially since the remnant of the gasket is no longer stuck inside. Time will tell, literally, if the barrel causes a problem. I have no doubt the watch will work until the missing teeth rotate into the center wheel. I suspect the barrel will slip until the next tooth engages but I'll find out in an hour or two.
I was recently paid a very nice compliment and it was also a very fitting analog for Easter. Although I posted a watch recently on Easter Sunday, the season of Easter lasts for seven weeks and goes through Pentecost. So technically this is also an Easter post and I thought I'd share the sentiment with you.
My project watch is a Coral Midas. The model was introduced in 1940 and made through 1941. Like the regular yellow gold Midas, the Coral Midas came in a solid 14K case but in rose gold, which was very fashionable before WWII.
The dial on the Coral Midas is a two-tone coral finish and the dial features rhodium plated solid 18K gold numerals, markers and dots. The hands are also rhodium plated to match.
My project watch has seen better days. The crystal is tired plastic and just replacing that will be an improvement. The case is a little worn but it's also a bit scratched so I will be very careful when I polish it. If you've got a good eye you might spot that the hour hand doesn't match in style or in length. If you've got an even better eye, you might wonder if the crown is rose or yellow... to be honest, I wasn't sure either.
The back of my project watch is nicely engraved with a presentation from 1941. The serial number of the movement dates the watch to 1940 so this watch probably sat in the jewelry store for a few months before making its way to its original owner. It looks like it may have had a sticker, or something, affixed to the back for a while, as there is a bit of hard residue.
The movement inside is a 19 jewel 982M movement, or Medallion movement, that was newly introduced in 1940 for solid gold (and platinum) models. It's a more ornamented version of the 19 jewel 982 movement that was already the standard for solid gold models. Supposedly the 982M was crafted to even tighter standards - although it shares all the same parts with the 982. It's certainly very nice to look at, especially when it's clean.
This movement is not running. The balance doesn't wobble so that's a good sign that all it will need is a good cleaning. We'll find out soon enough.
Without the crystal blocking the view, you can get a better look at the dial and hands. I don't see any obvious tells that the dial has been refinished. There is no dial pattern number below the seconds track though. However, if it was refinished it was done a long time ago, based on the aging along the right side. It was not unusual for Hamilton to refinish the dial as part of their standard service so as long as the dial is correctly done, it doesn't really matter if it's original or not. In fact, many people who have an "original dial" really have a refinished dial that was redone decades ago.
I was unable to get the lower dial foot screw to budge and I was forced to carefully pry the dial off. Once it was lifted out of the way I saw the reason for the issue - there's a little rust right in the area of the lower dial foot. There's evidence of moisture going over to the 4th wheel and pallet fork jewels so that may be the cause of the watch stopping. Hopefully the ultrasonic will work the dial foot screw loose.
If you ever notice there is moisture in your watch, you should open it as best you can and carefully dry it with warm air. You may want to also have it serviced by a watchmaker, especially if it's been a while since it was last cleaned and oiled.
While everything is being cleaned I will prep a new glass crystal for installation.
I noticed one potential issue while inspecting the cleaned parts. One of the teeth on the minute wheel is bent. It's around 10 o'clock in the picture below. The minute wheel is what keeps the minute hand and hour hand in sync. A bent tooth can cause a disruption and is usually caused by putting the cannon pinion on with the minute wheel in place and "crushing" the minute wheel in the process. I'll replace it to be on the safe side.
Everything is ready to be reassembled, excluding the old crystal... how'd that get in there?
The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion. Let's see what the timer thinks of it?
It's running a little fast but that's easily adjusted with the regulator.
In the shot below the original crown (left) is placed next to a coral crown for comparison. I'm now convinced the original crown is the incorrect color so I'll replace it.
I replaced the hour hand with the proper style and the length is typically determined by the distance from the center to the nearest hour marker. I don't know if that would be the numbers 3 and 9 or if it should be the rectangular markers. The minute hand should extend to the nearest minute track. The glass crystal and coral crown are definite improvements.
Here's a better shot with more flattering light.
When I went to look at the catalog image of the Coral Midas I saw the hour hand appears to extend to the marker so it should be a little longer. Fortunately I have a slightly longer hour hand so now the watch is "perfect".
As I said at the start, I was recently paid a very nice compliment by someone I restored a watch for. One of the things I enjoy the most about this hobby is the happiness that I can provide when I restore someone's father's or grandfather's watch. What was once broken and battered can be brought to new life by the touch of a master's hand.
What a wonderful message for Easter as well. No one is past redemption when they find their way to the Master's hand.
Today is Easter and what a wonderful day it has been. I got a parking place at church and we even sat in our usual pew - although there were quite a few unfamiliar faces around. The weather was fantastic and my bride and I enjoyed some quality time together doing back-breaking manual labor in the yard.
I was also able to finish a couple of watch projects and I have an interesting model to showcase. It's a 1965 Hamilton Vincent. This model was produced for three years but you don't often see it in the wild... that could be because it's a little on the smaller side.
If it looks familiar, it's probably because it bears a strong resemblance to its older brothers, the 1962 Gary and the 1964 M79-4. Of course, those models have second hands and the 1965 Vincent does not.
The Vincent came in a 10K yellow rolled gold plated case with a stainless steel back. It was paired with a matching bracelet with a Florentine-pattern on the bezel and bracelet.
My project watch arrived in non-running condition and missing the crown.
There's a slight nub of a stem so I suspect the crown and stem broke off and the watch has been stuck at 5:55 ever since. The case back does not sit properly for some reason and the owner said it popped open on the way to the post office. Hopefully I can fix that too.
The bracelet was made by JB Champion, in case you're ever looking for a replacement.
Tucked inside the case is a 17 jewel Hamilton 681 movement. This is basically a slightly smaller 686 movement based on an A Schild 1200. It's just like the 686 but a smaller diameter - all of the other parts are the same so it will be easy to get a new stem.
Looking at the inside of the bezel, the sides between the lugs are a bit wavy. I think someone has fiddled with this bezel before. I'll try to straighten things so that the back snaps on properly.
Everything gets taken apart and thoroughly cleaned before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.
I happen to have a nice Hamilton-branded crown that will fit the case nicely. I'll have to trim the stem to the correct length before screwing the crown on.
Crowns can be very challenging to replace but I think this one is a perfect match.
The reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion.
Not too shabby... the amplitude is a little low but I haven't fully wound the watch yet since it doesn't have a crown.
Well this watch turned out really nicely. There's a small scratch on the dial that was hidden by the minute hand originally, otherwise it cleaned up nicely.
My light tent is unforgiving and reveals every potential flaw. Here's a shot in more flattering and realistic light. It's a tiny watch but it is still nice looking.
There is a unique line of Hamilton models called Fontainebleu. Two of them were catalogued as US models and the others, I assume, are European. The earliest of the models were introduced in a 1968 as the Fontainebleau and a square version called the Fontainebleue B. The Fontainebleu was produced through 1970.
The Fontainebleau came in a stainless steel case but you might find versions in gold electroplate... but they may be a different model altogether.
Most of the Fontainebleau line are big and chunky, a style that doesn't really appeal to me. However, I recently had an example sent to me that was in need of a little TLC... specifically it needed a stem and crown. It's not unusual to find project watches in such a state as two-piece stems are meant to separate and sometimes the crown gets inadvertently snagged on a something and comes off.
This model has an Odyssey-like case design and you can see the model number is 64047-3. This case opens by turning the outer ring counter clockwise 1/4 turn and then the ring can be removed and the case back lifted out.
Getting the ring to turn is VERY difficult and it's even more challenging since the outside of the case has a sharp bevel and can't be hand-held. Fortunately I can wedge it into my case holder so I don't bugger up the ring by slipping the opener tool.
Here you see the principle parts of the case design... the bezel, the crystal, the case back (with the movement and dial) and the retaining ring. The crystal is inserted into the bezel from behind and the flange on the crystal is sandwiched between the dial and the bezel. This specific example is missing the gasket that should be between the crystal and bezel.
Inside the case is a 21 jewel Hamilton caliber 64A - basically a 21 jewel version of the 17 jewel 694A. Notice the female end of the two-piece stem installed in the movement. That means the crown-side needs the male side.
Here's a photo of a replacement stem and an uncut stem. Replacing crowns is surprisingly difficult. You need to have the correct outer diameter, style, if it's waterproof the correct opening, perhaps a tube, etc. etc. etc.
The challenge of installing a new stem and crown, once you have a crown, is to cut the stem long enough that the crown fits just right... too long and it will stick out, too short and you have to start over again. Check out the challenge below... how long should the stem be?
I find the best approach is to purposefully cut the stem a little long and then recut it over and over until it's just right.
I use a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel and I hold the stem with a pin-vise.
I'd say it's still a couple of mm too long.
Getting warmer but not quite there.
Once I think I'm close I can install the movement, insert the stem, align the male side with the female side and pop the two together to see how it fits.
Well, it turns out I had to cut it about as far as possible in order to get it short enough to fit properly. The long tube on the crown will help support the stem and crown in the stem tube of the case.
With a proper-fitting crown and nice alligator strap, this Fontainebleau is now ready for wrist time!
Arguably the rarest Hamilton WWII models are the watches made for the US Navy and Marine Corps. 110,000+ white-dialed models were made for the US Army and marked ORD-DEPT while it's not entirely clear how many black-dialed models for the US Navy were made. There are records for the 987S and 2987 sweep second models for naval aviators but the other USN models with 987A are much less common.
I've posted about WWII models before but I recently had the opportunity to work on a 27023 model and thought I'd show you it's details. Hamilton's WWII models with 987A movements supposedly had minor alterations to meet military specifications, including a new balance staff design.
My project watch came from a fellow collector and he sent it to me after a slight mishap. Can you guess what happened? If you guessed face-plant, then you're right. He dropped it on a hard surface and it broke the crystal. Whoops!
This watch has a really cool period correct sterling silver bracelet.
The other side has a medallion from Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. This public shipyard is still in operation today. Notice the H on the case between the lugs - that's one of the clues to look for to determine authenticity. This model has a Keystone case and it should have an H between the lugs.
If you look really closely you might be able to see this watch somewhere in the photo below... it was there at the same time.
The back of the case is properly marked with R88-W-800 and the part number 27023.
Inside the case back is a unique serial number for the watch.
The movement is held within a movement ring and a dust cover snaps onto the ring. A gasket surrounds the cover and seals the case back when it's screwed on.
The movement number starts with an O (oh) and dates the watch to 1944.
Models for the US Navy have black dials with luminous numbers and hands. The hands should be stainless steel and these are the correct hands.
This watch already has a white alloy mainspring installed so I will reuse it.
Everything is cleaned, dried, and ready for reassembly.
The reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion. Let's see what the timer thinks of it.
Not too shabby. The beat error of 2.7ms is on the higher end of my acceptable specs and the amplitude is a vigorous 316 degrees. Should I try to reduce the beat error?
Well, the most desirable amplitude is between 250 and 300. If amplitude gets too high the balance can swing all the way around and hit the opposite side of the pallet fork, causing it to bounce back and make the timing go wonky. Amplitude will be higher when the movement is dial up or dial down since the friction is lowest in those positions. When the movement is on edge all of the pivots are in use so the amplitude drops slightly. If I decrease the beat error, the amplitude will increase. So, since the amplitude is already pretty high, I think I'll leave the beat error as is. The watch will stop a little sooner than if the beat error were lower but not that much sooner.
A new crystal definitely goes a long way toward making this watch look a lot better. Now my friend just needs to make sure he doesn't drop it again!
Back in October of 2014 I did a post on one of the most longest-running models Hamilton made - the 1948 Chatelaine. It's a ladies model and was markets for "Nurses & Nuns" since it was the first ladies model to offer a sweep second hand. It's a pendant watch and initially featured the 17 jewel 987S movement until it was replaced by the 748 and eventually the 735 and 736 after that. It featured a sterling silver case.
In 1961 a second Chatelaine model was introduced, the Chatelaine II and it was available at the same time as the Chatelain and the two were marketed together until 1964.
The Chatelaine II was available with a Swiss-made movement and was offered at a lower price point than the original Chatelaine.
The Chatelaine II was replaced by the Chatelaine III in 1968 and it also featured a Swiss-made movement but I have yet to find a Chatelaine III in the wild. It looks just like the Chatelaine II but there must be a significant difference.
Generally ladies models don't interest me. They are too small and they tend to all look alike. Unfortunately ladies models don't command as much collector interest either, so their value rarely justifies the cost. I think Chatelaine models are the exception to the rule though, they are a larger and are more like jewelry than a cocktail watch.
I recently purchased a Chatelaine II and it came with a sterling fleur-de-lis mount that complemented the watch nicely.
The case back pops off and this watch's back in unegraved. It's not unusual to find a Chatelaine with a presentation to a nun or nurse from the 1950's and that makes dating the watch very easy. I actually restored a watch for a close family friend who is a religious and, by coincidence, she actually met a person who was the original recipient's best friend. The original nun had passed away long ago so my family friend gave away the watch as a reminder of her old friend. How's thats for a Godincidence?
I was very curious to see what sweep second Swiss-made grade would be inside the case. It's a 17 jewel 610 movement. It's very small though - much smaller than the 18 jewel 8/0 size 735 that would have been in the regular Chatelaine. Therefore this watch has a large movement ring to fill in the extra space.
The inside of the case back is clearly a Hamilton case and one of a few models that came in sterling silver.
It's a little hard to see but this movement has a shield and with FF inside, indicating this movement was made by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon (FHF), one of many Swiss watch movement manufacturers and the 610 is based on a FHF 62.
The crown also has the Hamilton logo.
While the parts are in the cleaner I will prep a new crystal for installation. 24.7mm should do the trick.
Everything gets taken apart and cleaned. Ladies movements are more challenging than men's movements because they are much smaller but they operate the same way.
Well, despite my best efforts, I was unable to get the watch to run nicely. Upon close inspection I noticed something is wrong with the hairspring and it's a little out of shape. I did not drop it or goof it up in any way so I suspect it was like this at the start (I didn't check). I can remove it from the balance and try to get it worked back into shape.
It's also out of flat, so that's an even more challenging task to repair. I have a low success rate with getting hairsprings flat and round. I usually work with them until I get so frustrated that I tied them into a knot or straighten them out in a fit of desperate rage. Springs like this one are just so small it's very hard to see what you're doing.
Fortunately a replacement complete balance is only about $15 so I should be able to drop in a replacement without too much difficulty. In the meantime, here's a sneak preview of what the finished watch will look like.
It's not often that I get beat by a watch but it does happen occasionally. It keeps me humble and it reinforces why I need to listen to that little voice in my head when good is good enough.
The last watch I posted about was a 1965 Thinline 2015 and it was a little unusual because it didn't have a second hand. For almost 40 years the only men's model to not have a second hand was the 1936 Norfolk, other than the early 1920's models with the 986A movement. I guess second hands were less important in the late 1960s - as there are few models with only hour and minute hands.
Another example is also a 1965 model, the Edwin. It was made through 1969 and bears a faint resemblance the Thinline 2015.
Unlike the solid 14K gold Thinline, the Edwin came in a 10K gold filled case and you could get it on a matching bracelet or a strap. Tucked inside the Edwin's case is a 22 jewel 12/0 sized 770 movement.
I happened to see this watch for sale on eBay and thought about making a run for it but as fate would have it, a fellow collector saw it too and purchased it. He sent it to me for an overhaul so I ended up getting it after all. I couldn't have planned it better - ha ha! As received, it's a little dirty but not terrible. It looks like the dial has seen better days but most people born in 1965 have a few spots by now too.
The case back is unengraved and otherwise unremarkable.
Don't be fooled by the shiny movement, this movement is very dirty and ready for a trip to the spa. It will be even more sparkly soon. This 770 has a slightly different 4th wheel than a typical 770, it doesn't have the long pivot for the second hand, instead it has a short pivot. Otherwise it's a standard-issue 770.
Everything is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned. The bracelet isn't original but it's in good shape and goes well with the watch so I cleaned it too.
The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion. Now it's off to the timer.
Well, the amplitude is great but the beat error of 6.7ms is way above specs. I prefer to see it under 3.0 and as close to zero as possible. It's a little tricky to adjust on US-made Hamiltons but I feel obliged to try.
You might be able to see the red impulse jewel on the roller table of the balance. This jewel needs to be centered with the pallet fork for the watch to be "in beat" and the beat error would be 0.0 if it was perfectly aligned. That would mean the balance would swing equally to both sides.
Flipping the balance over, the silver ball at the end of the hair spring is the hair spring stud. This attaches to the balance cock. Once installed, the hairspring stud determines where the balance's impulse jewel falls. Notice the position of the stud relative to the balance arm, it's off to the left of the arm. If I move the hairspring clockwise a little, it will move the stud and that will move the impulse jewel.
It doesn't take much to change the beat error. You can see the stud is now over the arm.
I also need to make sure the hair spring falls between the two regulator pins when I attach the balance to the balance cock. Then I can reinstalled the balance and see if the beat error is improved.
Well that's much better. Notice the amplitude came up. A high beat error will cause lower amplitude and it will also cause the watch to stop sooner than if it had a lower beat error. Movements with an adjustable hairspring stud are very easy to fine tune. Hamiltons... not so much. Can I do better than 2.7ms?
I've learned the hard way to listen to that little voice in your head. I thought about taking the balance off again and I even removed it from the movement but then I had a gut feeling that said, "Do you really want to screw this movement up for another 1.5ms? What if you go the wrong direction?"
You have to know when to say when, and 2.7ms is fine in my opinion. It's within my 3.0ms spec and screwing up a hairspring can happen in the blink of an eye.
I finished reassembling the watch and I think it looks much better. My light tent is merciless but I don't see anything distracting with this watch other than the marks on the dial. Very little wear to the case, that's for sure.
Here's a wrist shot in more flattering light. Not a bad looking watch but I miss the second hand.
After posting over 700 models, it's getting harder to find new models. I think I've found most of the easy models to locate but even less common models show up from time to time. Take for instance the 1965 Thinline 2015 - it was only made for a single year.
The Thinline 2015 is an interesting model. Its case is solid 14K gold. Inside the case is what is effectively a ladies watch movement - which turns out isn't that uncommon for watches from the later 1960s.
My project watch arrived in well-used condition. The dial is very dirty but it's an original dial and has a unique textured finish so it would be very hard to get refinished properly, based on my experience. The bracelet on the watch isn't original but it seems to go nicely with the florentine engraving on the bezel.
I suspect the crown is a replacement since it doesn't have an H logo but otherwise it fits well.
This watch isn't a small watch by vintage standards. It could easily fit a 12 size 770 movement. The case back has a unique contour to it, indicating that the movement inside is fairly small or thin.
The dial isn't terrible but it is very dirty. Hopefully a little light cleaning will improve it but I want to take extra care not to lose the finish or the Hamilton printing.
Check out the recess in the case back for the movement... it's round. That's definitely not for a 770. There are two numbers inside. The number at the bottom ends with 65, that's the serial number and it indicates the model was introduced in 1965.
The movement inside is a 17 jewel 680 but you have to look VERY closely, this movement is tiny.
Check out the dial side of the movement relative to my thumbnail... they're the same size.
Everything is taken apart and cleaned. I also polished the acrylic crystal to get rid of the scratches that were on it.
The reassembled movement is ticking away in my smallest movement holder. Now it's off to the timer to listen to the ticking.
Well that's not too shabby. Notice the beat rate is 21,600 beats per hour. This is one of the very few pre-1969 models to not have an 18,000 BPH beat rate.
My merciless light tent does not do this watch justice. Instead it reveals every flaw, including the wear through on the expansion bracelet. I was going to change the bracelet but I don't have an 18mm strap on hand at the moment.
In normal daylight the watch looks much better. I was able to clean up the dial slightly but this is about as good as it will get without doing something drastic and that should only be done if you're willing to get the dial refinished, which I'm not. It's not bad looking though, I think it makes the watch look very authentic.