Marine: 1915 Hamilton 36 size Deck Watch ID

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by gypsyslair, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. gypsyslair

    gypsyslair New Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    3
    0
    0
    #1 gypsyslair, Dec 26, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2013
    I'm new to this so please be patient with me. I'm trying to find out more about a 1915 Hamilton 21 deck watch /chronometer but am having great difficulty. I can't find any historical documented information (i.e. how many were made, why, and their rarity etc). From what I've gathered - depending on its casing construct, it served both as a pocket watch as well as chronometer. Was this their 1st version of a chronometer? Everything I learned has been verbal as I can't seem to find any valid documentation - it's as if this piece doesn't exist. The serial # is 1260835 and the piece is in excellent working condition. Any assistance and/or pointing in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. I can post/send pics if you like - I just don't know how to yet.
     
  2. Don Dahlberg

    Don Dahlberg Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Aug 31, 2000
    3,425
    12
    38
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    This is a 36 size chronometer watch. It was often called a torpedo-boat watch. The first of these went to the Finishing Department in 3/9/15. Many were not finished in production for decades. Your movement is near the last. They were sold from 1918 to 1943.

    At the beginning of WWII there was a call for any watches that might have military use so many were brought back into service during WWII. Some were not finished until 1943. There were 966 made.

    This is from the Halligan records.

    Hal0267.jpg

    I can provide year by year production if you write research@nawcc.org with your membership number. Note that I shall not be volunteering at the Library until after the hollidays.

    Don
     
  3. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
    14,364
    50
    48
    Calgary, Alberta
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Here is a scan of what I suspect is the chronometer in question, from Marvin Whitney's book on the marine chronometer. It would appear as though this model was the first chronometer produced by Hamilton, although it has a lever escapement like the later series 22, not the detent escpement like the 85-size series 21.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. gypsyslair

    gypsyslair New Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    3
    0
    0
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Wow - thanks for the lightning fast responses - with only 966 having been finished, just how collectable are these early pieces? per your suggestion, I'd love to get the year by year production info but how do I find my membership #
    -> posts merged by system <-
    Was the 21 inferior to the series 22? or was the 22 basically identical and simply more efficient per its size?
     
  5. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
    14,364
    50
    48
    Calgary, Alberta
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    The series 21 was a different chronometer. It was 85-size rather than 36-size which makes it much larger. The two chronometers were equally well suited to their intended purpose, but the ships they were in use on were different. My understanding is that by WW II, the larger chronometer was for use in larger ships that spent more time at sea, and the smaller one was for use by smaller ships that usually saw tasks closer to shore. I have read that the smaller chronometer might have been used on, for example, a hospital ship, a tanker, troopship, or freighter which were usually in a convoy with warships which carried several of the larger series 21. My references indicate the earlier one was likely produced up until the series 22 was introduced in the 1940s, but how one would go about listing production by year, I have no idea. NAWCC at Columbia could possibly have a record as to when yours was finished. Which one was better? They were both ideal for the purposes they were designed for, but I would think most ship captains would prefer the series 21
     
  6. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    81,970
    1,406
    176
    Male
    retired SW dev
    Boston
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    The original US Navy contract for torpedo boat watches was with a French company. The Hamilton 36 size replaced the French was as I understand it.

    The Waltham 37 size 8 day chronometers were also used in torpedo boat service.

    The story I have heard is that the lever watches were preferred in the high speed boats with substantial vibration on board.

    The model 22 was used for the same service as well as in a gimbaled version for less demanding navigation needs and the Waltham was also available both in gimbals and in the flat case.

    I have attached pictures of the 3 models of flat watches that would have been used in such light boat service in WWI and WWII
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Andy Dervan

    Andy Dervan Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Member

    Oct 23, 2002
    2,275
    9
    38
    Male
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Hello Gypsyslair,

    Hamilton had 2 versions - non-gimballed and gimballed.. The non-gimballed were referred to as "comparing watches"; they would set them based on precision chronometers (21's) and use them for checking other clocks on the ships or noting time while taking sextant readings.

    Hamilton, Waltham, and Elgin all made gimballed "deck watches" for WWI and were probably used WWII. Navy also had high grade pocket watches placed in gimballed cases during WWII. These clocks were probably used on smaller naval ships or ones that were only at sea for short period of time and did not require a chronometer.

    Larger naval ships (battleships & aircraft carriers) would have 3 chronometers mounted in banks. Sometimes airforce had some setup.

    Andy
     
  8. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

    Apr 29, 2004
    2,961
    189
    63
    Country Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Don,

    I believe you have a typo error with respect to the first ones to "Finishing". This date should be 3/9/16.

    Robert
     
  9. gypsyslair

    gypsyslair New Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    3
    0
    0
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    I just wanted to personally thank Doug, Tom, Robert, Andy, and Don for sharing you time and expertise. I'm not familiar with these watches/clocks at all and you helped me to not only identify what I have but have also opened a whole new world to me that has become very interesting and exciting - problem is, I don't have the kind of non-discretional income to support what appears to be a very expensive hobby! Again, THANKS
     
  10. Fred Hansen

    Fred Hansen Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    5,286
    130
    63
    Country Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Congrats on owning a great piece! I would like to see pictures of this example when you have a chance.

    You asked about desirability ... and when these are in decent condition and in correct casing they are very popular and desirable among Hamilton and military collectors.

    Fred
     
  11. Don Dahlberg

    Don Dahlberg Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Aug 31, 2000
    3,425
    12
    38
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Robert is correct, I made a typo. It should have said that the first ones went to the finishing department in 1916. This is shown in the page from the Halligan records. I suspect your watch was made much later, perhaps as late as WWII. This is because of the late serial number.

    The reference to the membership number is for members of the NAWCC. Members can send questions or requests for copies of material or check out books and CDs by writing to research@nawcc.org . We charge non-members for research at a rate very close to one year's membership. If we gave everything away on our Message Board, few would join. Membership also includes a great horological magazine every other month (NAWCC Bulletin) and the right to go to local chapter meetings, regional meetings and national meetings including the marts where you can buy watches, clocks, parts and tools. You can find out more at http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/member-central

    End of commercial.

    Don Dahlberg
    NAWCC volunteer
     
  12. jshopper1

    jshopper1 Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    37
    1
    8
    Engineer Retired
    South Carolina
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    To all, Great thread. I would like to add this true anecdote to this thread. A couple of years ago I had never seen a model 21, only heard of them. I worked for a large consulting firm and one of my coworkers also collected pocket watches. We would too frequently take time at work and chat about our hobby. A second buddy knew of our hobby and told us one day of a large pocket watch that he inherited from his grandfather. As I always carried a pocket watch, he told us that his inherited pocket watch was much larger than any 18 size watch that I carried. He was not into watches and knew nothing else about his watch. I and buddy no. 1 shook our head and told him that he must be mistaken. We had no idea what he was talking about. Well, one day he brought it into the office. Pertinent to this thread, you probably guessed that it was a model 21. When I saw it, I could not contain myself. I summoned buddy no. 1 and we both flipped out. As buddy no. 2 had no idea what he had, I could have told him that his watch was worthless and stole it from him for $50. But I gave him an honest appraisal. The watch was clad in a sterling silver (grossly tarnished) case. I wound it a couple of twists and it ran, but stopped after just a few minutes. I could shake it and it would take off again. I assume that it needed a good cleaning. The rear cover was hinged with an internal dust shield. The outside of the rear cover was engraved US Navy, a stylized N in a circle, and the number 5025. The movement serial was 1260300. The dial had a double sunk metal painted (I assume) dial. It was very dirty and needed cleaning. The first sunk shape was circular with an extension for the wind indicator hand (making it not really circular). Buddy no. 2 had no idea how this watch came into his grandfather's hands, as his grandfather never served in the Navy. He did not have the wood case in which it was originally housed. Our employer fell on very hard times in 2009. All three of us were layed off at various times this year. I was lucky enough to find a new job. I lost touch with buddy no. 2, buddy no. 1 is still out of work. I have pictures of his watch, but I hesitate to post them without his permission. Question: does anybody know the meaning of the Navy serial number (5025) engraved on the case back? Dennis Lockwood
     
  13. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Dennis, there seems to be some confusion here as to what is a Hamilton model 21. The thread is about the Hamilton 36-size Chronometer Watch. It was not assigned a model number other than "36-size" to the best of my knowledge. It does have 21-jewels, which might be how the "21" got into the title of this thread.

    The Hamilton "Model 21" is a full-size (85-size), 14-jewel, "Ship Chronometer" with a detent escapement and helical hairspring, furnished only in a gimballed mount and in a typical chronometer box. It was first produced c.1942, and was Hamilton's first true marine or ship chronometer. The model 21 had a 12-hour dial. A limited number were made with a 24-hour dial (called model 121) and with an individual orbit dial (model 221).

    The 36-size chronometer watch was considerably smaller than the model 21 Ship Chronometer and was furnished in either a silver watch case or in a chronometer-style (but smaller) box with chronometer mounting in gimbals. A Hamilton document shows it being produced from 1918 to 1943 with a total production of 966. It has a standard lever escapement. Hamilton also offered it for sale in the chronometer box and gimbal mounting and recommended it to retail jewelers for use as a master timepiece. The three-section mahogany box measured 5 x 5 x 5-1/4 inches according to a c.1926 catalog.

    It was replaced in the Hamilton product line c.1942 by the model 22, a 35-size, 21-jewel Chronometer Watch.

    I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

    Larry Treiman
     
  14. jshopper1

    jshopper1 Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    37
    1
    8
    Engineer Retired
    South Carolina
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Larry, Thanks for the clarification. I wrote describing Hamilton's large 36 size pocket watch with 21 jewels. I inadvertently called it a model 21, which is my mistake. Thanks for the clarification and happy new year! Dennis Lockwood
     
  15. George

    George Registered User

    Aug 19, 2009
    133
    0
    0
    was publisher/photographer
    New Zealand
    Country Flag:
    Re: 1915 Hamilton 21 Deck Watch ID

    Hi Tom I hope I am not out of order here..I have just recieved an identical Waltham in genuine Waltham gimbal box...to the one you show here..My serial number suggests 1937. yours seems to be 1941? In what situation would a gimballed Waltham be used...it doesnt appear to be a very high grade movement. The other unusual aspect of this one.... is... The box has a large serial number on front under Waltham plate. On very base of box is another serial number which differs from the earlier mentioned one. The small latter serial number I think was an earlier U.S.S.B number.
     

Share This Page