To Much Time On My Hands

Disassembling and reassembling watches is not an easy task for a seasoned watchmaker let alone an amateur hobbyist like me. Part of reassembling a watch after a cleaning includes not only putting the movement back together with it's tiny intricate parts, but also placing the hands back on.

This blog is about the challenge I had realigning the watch hands during the reassembly process. The watch hands themselves sit on posts by friction with the posts being attached to an elaborate series of wheels.

One of the last steps of reassembling a watch is putting the hands back on these very fragile posts and ensuring that the hands rotate freely over (or under) each other.

My latest find, a 1949 Elgin wristwatch, had its parts go through a cleaning in my ultrasonic machine, including the hands. Like the other parts, the hands were corroded and needed a good cleaning. What I didn't know is that while the hands were vibrating in the ultrasonic cleaner, they likely banged around and being fragile as they are, became a bit bent here and there.  Well, these hands had to much time in the cleaner (have you got it yet? "To much time on my hands" - in the ultrasonic). When I was putting hands back on the movement, the hands didn't clear each other and required some fine tinkering (a watch technical term) so that they would clear each other when they rotated.

The close-up shots of the movement above show how the hands are sitting on their posts and that they need to rotate freely of each other. When I reassembled this watch, I had to remove the hands several times to reshape them so the minute hand rotated freely under the hour hand and the second hand rotated freely under the minute hand. Just one of the many steps in the reassembly process.

My 1949 Elgin, model 6717

If you were wondering, the watch hands belong to the watch above. It cleaned up really well and with a quick polish to the case and a new watch strap, was ready for my wrist.

Here's an original ad showing my "handsome" watch.
An original ad showing my watch. It is indeed "handsome".

Another Time - When is a Romanesque S not a Romanesque S?

When it's a Hamilton "Trent".

Like my box o' chocolate post, this one is about a watch not being what it seemed. Like many of my watch projects, I pick them up on eBay. This past month I picked up what I thought was a c. 1960 Hamilton "Romanesque S". I'm really not sure about these model names, but that discussion will have to be saved for another post.

With an eBay description like "SUPERB 1960 Hamilton 22J Adjusted Gents ROMANESQUE S Art Deco RUNS! L@@K!! N/R" wouldn't you want to buy it? I've bolded and capped the words the way they were in the eBay listing.

1960 Hamilton Dealer Catalog

I obviously didn't pay much attention to the listing as I was probably caught up on what I thought was an incredible bid price for this model. The catalog page above clearly shows the difference between the Romanesque S and Trent - the dials (i.e. watch face) and markers. The Romanesque S dial has a textured dial (the "Romanesque" finish). The catalog picture of the Trent does not properly highlight the four-quadrant bevelled dial. This bevel plays with light and depending on how light hits it, looks darker and lighter in each of the quadrants.

My Hamilton Trent

The Romanesque S has black numerals and markers while my Trent above obviously has gold. You can see in the shot of my Trent above how the light hitting it at the angle in the picture that there are four distinct quadrants.

In addition to the watch case similarities between the two models, they both came with a 22 jewelled movement although the Trent also had a 17 jewel movement available (likely older model years during its long production time). The Romanesque was only produced for a single year in 1960 while the Trent was produced from 1955 to 1969. I suppose if I had indeed bought a Romanesque it would have been somewhat rarer than the Trent.

Some research on Vintage Watch Forums and from the newly released book "Hamilton Wristwatches, A Reference Guide" by Bruce Shawkey, I was able to determine that my Romanesque S was rather a Trent and indeed from Another Time. If you are interested, Bruce's book can be obtained by following this link: Bruce's Website.