Do 992,992E & 992B have Serial numbers on the parts.

Nigel Harrison

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Hello,

Can anyone tell me definitively which balances/arms had their serial number written on them out of the 992, 992E, 992B? As I have heard all monometalic balances on 992E & 992B watches may not have their serial numbers on them.

Also do 992 or 992E watches have a partial serial number on the underside of their pallet bridge?
 
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Jim Haney

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Nigel,
Doug had reported that you posted this question on a old thread about Elinvar Hairsprings, so I split it off to it's own thread.

For a quick answer, all the 992 & 992E production watches should have serial numbers on the parts including the arms of the balance wheel.

The 992B had some numbered parts on the early production watches but this went away after the first few years because they were so standardized that it wasn't necessary.

Saying that, it was not possible to pull out a complete balance from a 992B and stick it in another without some adjustments.

It may run but it should be poised and the rate checked and meantime screws adjusted to bring it to top performance.
 

Nigel Harrison

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Hi Jim,

Thanks very much for the information. Very good to know.

The reason I ask is that I have acquired a 992 which is from the first run 992E in the 2581xxx range and I think it was one of the few 992's that was left over stock ans put aside for a lomg time then upgraded to an elinvar at a much later period than the normal first run 992E pieces. As it is not marked elinvar under the balance and it has a monometallic balance with later arms, not the first run arms which should have holes in them. It has the later white elinvar hairspring and there is no serial number under the balance wheel at all. I think it is pretty cool as it seems like one of the last 992's made but in fact on closer inspection is technically possible it is one of the last 992E's made even though not marked.

As mentioned in this forum there was a lot of upgrading and downgrading going on in this time to offload older 992's, it is interesting how this one is finished.

What are your thoughts on this piece with these attributes? I will have to arrange a photo.
 

Larry Treiman

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Nigel,
Look at this thread again.

https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?39609-Hamilton-992-case-question

Also remember that 992E had the blue Elinvar hairspring.

A correct 992E from that run would have the serial number under the pallet bridge and scratched under the arms of the balance.


Does the pallet bridge have a number on it?
.

Nigel, when you are checking out the thread to which Jim Haney linked (above), I hope you will take the time to read my post No. 23 on the 2nd page of the thread. I spent considerable time giving background on the time period when Elinvar was being introduced, and particularly about the problems with the Swiss-made Elinvar hairsprings and monometallic balances. I also provided an important NAWCC Bulletin article based on a paper by the late William O. Bennett, who was Hamilton's chief physicist at the time Elinvar was being introduced. It was annotated and illustrated and submitted to the NAWCC BULLETIN by Art Zimmerla, who also happened to be my mentor since the late 1960's. Although the main topic of the paper was the development of the Hamilton marine chronometer, Bennett discussed the problems with the Swiss Elinvar and described Hamilton's quest for a better alloy that would have Elinvar's good characteristics without its problems, mainly stemming from the fact that Elinvar was too soft, and was especially problematic when used in larger hairsprings such as those used in 16-size railroad watches. That quest led to "Elinvar Extra" c.1940 If you are a paid-up member, you can access back issues/articles sin the NAWCC BULLETIN archives on this site.

Even if you can't access the Bennett paper, I did touch upon some of the points he made in my post #23 and probably in other posts; it was one of my favorite posting subjects, but I'm getting tired of repeating it!

You should be aware of a few facts that might help you understand some of the things that happened as a result of Hamilton's relationship with the Swiss blue-colored Elinvar. For one thing, the "natural" color of the Swiss Elinvar hairsprings has been described as sort of an unattractive, uneven straw color, resulting from the heating process used in manufacturing. That would have been unacceptable, so the hairsprings were dyed blue.

Although Hamilton tried to develop a new alloy themselves, they eventually found the answer at International Nickel in the form of NiSpan C. Hamilton obtained the exclusive rights to manufacture the alloy themselves for horological purposes (hairsprings) and they named it "Elinvar Extra". The new "Elinvar Extra" has a mirror-like white appearance, which eliminated the need to dye it. I guess that they had invested so much in promoting the old Swiss Elinvar (and paid plenty for the exclusive North American rights to it) that despite the problems and somewhat tarnished reputation, particularly among railroad watch inspectors they decided to continue using the name "Elinvar", adding the "Extra" to differentiate it.

I just mention all that because it can help explain why Hamilton and Illinois watches that originally left the factory with Swiss-made balances and blued Elinvar hairsprings later show up with white Elinvar Extra hairsprings. For one thing, when problems developed with Elinvar-equipped railroad watches made during the 1930s, once the new Elinvar became available c .1940, watch inspectors would change out the old Elinvar hairsprings (and oftren the complete balance assembly) for the new Elinvar Extra hairsprings. I was told by a local Santa Fe Railway inspector that they were advised by the General Watch Inspector that irf they had trouble bringing one of the old Elinvar watches to time, they were not to attempt to do so, but rather to forward the watch to the office of the General Watch Inspector in Topeka, Kansas to have a new Elinvar Extra hairspring fitted! That was just one railroad, but I suspect that the practice was probably followed on many railroads when problems came up. The retrofitting also included Illinois Bunn Special Elinvar watches. I also suspect that Hamilton likely cooperated and may even have furnished the replacement hairsprings (and balances if needed) to the railroad people at reduced or even no cost. However, to the best of my knowledge, no documentation has been found regarding what went on back then, forcing reliance on suppositions and anecdotal information.

Another reason why Elinvar Extra hairsprings and monometallic hairsprings sometimes turn up in places where they don't seem to belong may be attributed to the old Hamilton's policy, and pride in being able to provide replacement parts through their materials department and distributors for just about any watch that they ever made, though obviously it probably got expensive if they were rarely used and not regularly stocked and had to be custom-made! And in later years, the parts might not be exact matches to the originals. That was especially true for balances and hairsprings.

After adopting the Elinvar and later the vastly improved Elinvar Extra, their use was soon extended to the entire line, and Hamilton eventually ceased making bi-metallic compensation balances entirely. That included replacement balances sold by the materials department. Once supplies of the obsolete bi-metallic balances were exhausted, particularly for 18 and 16-size railroad watches, Hamilton started to provide "balances, complete" using the same balances and hairsprings used in the "B" line of 16-size watches (992B, 950B, 4992B, etc.) but fitted with appropriate staffs, rollers, Elinvar Extra hairsprings with appropriate overcoils, studs, etc., to fit long-discontinued 18 and 16-size watches. That explains why you should not be too surprised to see, say, a 940 or 943 (I have seen them) or just about any old 16 or 18 size Hamilton with a monometallic balance and Elinvar Extra hairspring. To Hamilton, what was important was that they could keep someone's treasured old watch, maybe a family heirlooms, running. It was not quite so important to Hamilton that everything had to be "original"!

By the way, after WWII, in 1948 a large quantity (809) of Illinois Bunn Special 161A movements turned up at the Hamilton factory. They were complete except that they lacked balances and hairsprings. Hamilton finished them with 992B balances and hairsprings, with appropriate Illinois overcoils, studs, staffs, rollers, etc. They were cased in left-over Hamilton cases and offered to jewelers. Don Dahlberg has posted on these watches here in the past!

Many years ago, at a local NAWCC Mart, I saw a 163A (23-jewel) Bunn Special with the above-described Elinvar Extra hairspring and balance, but maybe it was one of those retrofitted by a watch inspector. It was in a glass-back skeleton case. I wouldn't be surprised to see others. However, I didn't ever collect Bunn Specials, and therefore didn't look at many! The many (to me) minor and insignificant variations and resulting high prices discouraged any serious interest in them on my part! However, I would like to see some documentation turn up to either prove or disprove my speculation on those darn 161B Bunn Specials! And I'm not referring to the one prototype based on the 992B.

I see it is way past my lunch time. I'll have to skip final proof-reading! Bye-bye!


Larry Treiman
 

Nigel Harrison

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Nigel,
Look at this thread again.

https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?39609-Hamilton-992-case-question

Also remember that 992E had the blue Elinvar hairspring.

A correct 992E from that run would have the serial number under the pallet bridge and scratched under the arms of the balance.


Does the pallet bridge have a number on it?
.

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the response. I had referred back to that original 992 thread before asking my question. I do re-read that thread quite often when I do see a first run 992E or a late 992 piece. It is very informative with great info.

What I should have clarified is that I know what are the normal characteristics expected to be seen in a first run 992E and I have seen a fair few in my time. What I am saying with this one I have is that it does fall outside of the norm of what is expected of a first run narrow damaskeened 992E.

I can confirm that mine does have it's matching pallet bridge with correct serial number and it is NOT marked Elinvar but is from the first run of narrow damaskeened 992E's with serial 2581391. It also has its original balance cock which is also good but the pallet bridge being correct and not marked Elinvar is a biggest sign that this piece was not upgraded as normal with all other 992E's in the run and upgraded at a later point.

Just as a side comment: I have read that only the first run 992E's and a few other later 992E pieces had the blue hairspring as it was dyed blue (Apparently), then all the the later examples of 992E's have white hairsprings. That is something I read yesterday and does seem to match up with most of the 992 examples I have looked at online this week, obviously the white colour carried through to the 992B. Here is one from Jones Horan: http://www.jones-horan.com/0603/images/hm4_c.jpg

I will have a read of Larry's extensive post now :)
 

terry hall

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Another reference NIgel is the Halligan writings available from the Library. Contained therein are factory memos about "the elinvar situation'... stipulating the conversion of 992 movements and their return to non-elinvar , as there was concerns with the 'appearance' of the narrow stripe damaskeen... which was changing to a wider stripe.

this 'flip flopping' in these early examples is interesting to see 'in the wild'.....

there are tidbits on their policy for requested conversions of customer's watches... (mainly discouraging the practice)....


the biggest issue at that time was just what in the heck were they to do with the now-obsolete product. !!

There are copies of memos sent to 'major' players of bargan basement offers to relieve Hamilton of this inventory.
An extensive study was also performed on case inventory to supply the watches factory cased.

It is a very interesting read !!!
 

Nigel Harrison

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Hi Larry,

Thanks as always for the extensive time taken to explain things in detail.

I have read your past post on the other thread and have read pieces of your information above in various locations over the years. Much appreciated for sure. You have included some new info in the info above which I have not come across and is good to know, also great for everyone else on here who have not seen it.

This piece I have is a bit of an anomaly I think, but fits in with the facts that Hamilton upgraded/installed the elinvar extra hairspring into watches LATER when they knew there was an issue with the original elinvar. I believe there are two scenarios that are most likely for my watch:

1.It was old 992 stock intended to be an Elinvar due to it being from that first run but then put aside for some reason, then at some point when the Elinvar Extra's where in it was fitted with the Elinvar Extra ..but possibly when 992B where being pushed out as the balance wheel has no serial number on it and is the later style


2. It was put aside by Hamilton and sold of as a 992 with Hamilton not wanting to make it an official 992E, then a jobber later finished it off with the later Elinvar Extra hairspring and later monometallic balance supplied by Hamilton.

Either way it is a an interesting anomaly.

Hmmm we might need to start a 992E variant list. :)
 

Nigel Harrison

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Another reference NIgel is the Halligan writings available from the Library. Contained therein are factory memos about "the elinvar situation'... stipulating the conversion of 992 movements and their return to non-elinvar , as there was concerns with the 'appearance' of the narrow stripe damaskeen... which was changing to a wider stripe.

this 'flip flopping' in these early examples is interesting to see 'in the wild'.....

there are tidbits on their policy for requested conversions of customer's watches... (mainly discouraging the practice)....


the biggest issue at that time was just what in the heck were they to do with the now-obsolete product. !!

There are copies of memos sent to 'major' players of bargan basement offers to relieve Hamilton of this inventory.
An extensive study was also performed on case inventory to supply the watches factory cased.

It is a very interesting read !!!
Thanks Terry, yes I do recall that scenario being talked about with the changing over then changing back of 992 watches due to damaskeening patterns, it does sound like some confusing times for Hamilton then. They were obviously very nervous about making the right decisions to ensure there product was saleable and not confusing.

One good question around this scenario you mnetion Terry is: did Hamilton make two pallet bridges for these converted first run 992E's? Or simply took out the original one and engraved ELINVAR on it when the upgrade was complete? As I wonder what happened when they had to change some back, did they keep all the old bridges and balances to convert back and match up SN's.
 

Jim Haney

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Nigel,
This run was produced as 992E,with the thin line DMK

2581001-2583900.

Terry was commenting on these runs where we have found mixed results
2583901-2584300.

I have serial number 2581270, pallet bridge marked Elinvar, blue hairspring and serial numbers on the pallet bridge and scratched under the balance wheel arms.

My opinion would be they were either a 992 or a 992E, not a mixed bag.
 

Nigel Harrison

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Nigel,
This run was produced as 992E,with the thin line DMK

2581001-2583900.

Terry was commenting on these runs where we have found mixed results
2583901-2584300.

I have serial number 2581270, pallet bridge marked Elinvar, blue hairspring and serial numbers on the pallet bridge and scratched under the balance wheel arms.

My opinion would be they were either a 992 or a 992E, not a mixed bag.
Thanks Jim, yes I agree that watches in run 2581001-2583900 should be either a 992 or 992E in a perfect world and I actually have only ever seen marked Elinvar 992E's thin damaskeening in this run and no plain 992's over the years though I don't seek out to look at all 992/992E's. Though as Larry has said, Hamilton had issues in this Elinvar changeover period and it seems it was not a perfect world for them, with the Elinvar hairspring issues and also the old 992 stock no longer being RR quality and started upgrading various watches with the newer hairspring and balance complete, this as Larry mentioned was done by factory or parts supplied to a jobber to do. It seems Hamilton were effectively pushing out 'mixed bag' pieces based on Larry's research into the issues at Hamilton to ensure a quality product, even though the situation was not ideal for them and these watches may be in the minority.

The fact is that this 992 was in a very small minority to start with as it retains its original 992 pallet bridge which has no Elinvar marking, then this one was upgraded to an 992E spec from a 992 base model(at some point) as all were intended in this run though this one was done in a different way, it could have been at the factory or by a jobber with Hamilton stock it would seem from Larry's information as this seemed to be a documented practice at the time. I was very surprised to hear Larry mention that he has seen 18s Hamilton models were upgraded as well, very interesting stuff.

I like these anomaly pieces, they help tell a different story of times past. I will try to post some pictures soon if people are interested.
 

Larry Treiman

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Nigel, I'm somewhat concerned that you may be misinterpreting some things that I was saying, or maybe it is just your choice of words.

I do not believe that "jobbers" were ever involved in making changes to Hamilton watches. I believe that Hamilton distributed their watches through a network of authorized wholesalers, carefully screened and appointed to act as distributors for Hamilton watches; I don't know if they ever dealt with so-called "jobbers" though jobbers might have been utilized to sell off surplus or obsolete watches. I'm really not terribly familiar with their distribution methods. In later years the term jobber tended to be more or less synonymous with wholesaler as a result of misuse of the term, so maybe thjat is where my problem lies!

Whatever you call them, I'm quite certain that no wholesalers or jobbers would have been involved with the retrofitting of troublesome Elinvar watches with new Elinvar Extra hairsprings. As I understand it, that was strictly the province of the various railroads' internal time service departments, or with outside firms, such as Ball or Forsinger or Mace or others, to which they contracted the responsibility for the implementation of their watch inspection programs, and the appointment and supervision of local watch inspectors at strategic points along the railroad lines.

The 18-size watches were not intentionally "upgraded". It happened when balances and/or hairsprings in old but collectible watches were damaged beyond repair or missing altogether.

This "upgrading" could likely have occurred to the chagrin of the owner of the watch, if the owner was a collector. Other such old 18-size Hamiltons may have been family heirlooms, like "grandpa's old watch" and the heirs only cared that the watch was put back in running condition.

I doubt that very many co0llectors would approve of using an Elinvar Extra replacement hairspring and monometallic balance in a collectible watch. However, there are probably many who would argue that it is preferable to use a new monometallic balance and Elinvar Extra hairspring in their watch, making it at least usable as a "carry" watch or "hole-filler" in a collection, rather than cannibalizing a "balance, complete" from another watch, thus creating two "frankenwatches". By the time Hamilton was making these replacement balance assemblies available (perhaps the 1960s), most of the watches involved had long been excluded from use in railroad time service. No doubt many of what you called upgradings were performed by watch hobbyists or dealers!

I also heard stories from a local watch inspector for the Santa Fe Railway about the severe shortage of railroad standard watches when the railroads were gearing up to handle te huge sudden growth in railroad freight and troop train traffic brought about by wartime demands. Newly hired workers had to have standard watches before they could go to work, and watch manufacturers were unable to meet the demand due to the production of special timepieces for the armed forces.

Watch standards had to be relaxed. Watches that had once been accepted as standard watches (e.g., 16-size 17-jewel, 5-position and perhaps even 3-position adjusted) but were no longer accepted for entry into Time Service, were accepted during the war if they met the railroad timekeeping standards and were deemed reliable. I don't know if any 18-size watches were used on the railroads during WWII, other than perhaps some that had been in use before the war and were "grandfathered in". However I am aware that some of the higher-grade 18-size watches were recycled into chronometer watches and similar timepieces for various maritime and perhaps other purposes.

Watch inspectors had to go through their boxes of old watches taken as trade-ins for new watches but which could not be placed in service suddenly were acceptable and had to be checked out and repaired as necessary to be placed in service and sold to new hires. Even parts movements were being cobbled together to make working watches. As I understood it, all these formerly unacceptable were sold and placed in service with the understanding that when new watches became available, they could be traded-in on new watches. I suspect that they probably would have gotten at least close to what they paid in trade.

Anyway, don't necessarily blame "greedy dealers" for all those "Frankenwatches that now turn up on internet auctions, etc. At least some of them may have been created by hard-working watch inspectors who were just trying their best to keep North American railroads running safely and efficiently during those difficult times. Collectors who now get stuck with those Frankenwatches might feel at least a little better if they remind themselves of those wartime expedient watches......or not! <];>)

Larry Treiman
 
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Nigel Harrison

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Thanks Larry, I appreciate your comments as you have a lot of experience and information. I did not think I had misrepresented anyone's comments, I was just trying to work out the likely scenarios of how this watch was produced based on what I had read.

I will simply say there could me multiple scenarios for how this watch was 'upgraded' and I will leave it at that.
 

terry hall

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Thanks Larry, I appreciate your comments as you have a lot of experience and information. I did not think I had misrepresented anyone's comments, I was just trying to work out the likely scenarios of how this watch was produced based on what I had read.

I will simply say there could me multiple scenarios for how this watch was 'upgraded' and I will leave it at that.
It is difficult at best to try to 'get into the heads' of what was done then... and 'why'... they just wanted to sell new watches.

I'm not a 'fan' of speculation... I know "I've" documented examples out of that first run with narrow stripe damaskeen that ARE Elinvar and examples that ARE NOT Elinvar... (no, not an 'in hand' exam of each example with dis-assembly) Yes, there is a difference in the font of the early "elinvar' marking on the pallet bridge when comparing to later examples, so I don't know "IF" 992L pallet bridges were simply re-marked or if they were actually replaced.

I do not plan on tearing down examples residing here either.

I am suspect of something that is 'halfway' there, as well as examples such as an 18s movement with an elinvar balance... to me... the 'proof' lies elsewhere that is IS a 'factory' conversion... 'show me the proof' besides just saying so...

Please, review/study the Halligan Documents that contain the Elinvar Memos, those were written 'at the time' and of course they at the time had no 'dog in the hunt' from a collector/seller point of view. Once one gets an understanding of the tone of those documents, one can understand the reluctance to 'believe' in various scenarios.