Deck Watch: Early Hamilton 4992B Research

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Hello all,
This is my first NAWCC post and I have questions regarding a Hamilton 4992B I have recently acquired. I'm hoping for some answers here. If this topic has been covered in a past thread I apologize to "my newness".
I am not new to military watch collecting. I have owned, traded, restored and researched dozens of military pocket watches, deck watches and chronometers over several years.
When I came across this last piece more questions than answers come to mind regarding the "first [SUP]Generation" 4992B. I call it the "first generation" 4992B but, as we all know, is that Hamilton used different font styles, sizes of those fonts and font locations on their 4992B as the runs continued through the years. Three changes in total.[/SUP]
[SUP] The 1st generation 4992B plates have an almost exact font style and placement locations as the "1st Type" 992B that was started in 1940. This is evident of the "Hamilton Watch Co. U.S.A" located under the center seconds wheel as well as the "ADJ. TEMP. AND 6 POS" markings located and hidden under the center seconds bridge. The markings "ADJ. TEMP. AND 6 POSITIONS" were re-engraved under the crown wheel. Also, the "4" in the 4992B engraving seems "a little off" meaning it's not exactly the same size and seems slightly not in line with the "992B". Researching also has come up with "complaints" about the "4" stamp not being as deep as the "992B" and the black paint has deteriorated. As the next 4992B generation or font location is introduced these anomalies disappear and there are no hidden or covered engravings. Why was the first generation like this?
Two possible answers come to my mind:
Hamilton was using the 1st type 1940 992B plates in the first production runs of the 4992B
Hamilton was using the same engraving pattern as the 1st type 992B but did not plan ahead or quickly advanced production of the 4992B, due to the war effort, for the extra jewel, center seconds plate wheel needed. They corrected the issue later.

The 1st answer is not plausible to me as the "21 Jewels" marking would exist on the plate not "22 Jewels" as seen from some of the earliest examples still in existence. This similarly happened to the Elgin National Watch Co. during the early production of their 581 Grade examples (A-13's) and is seen with 22 jeweled movements marked "21 Jewels". I have NOT yet seen this with Hamilton.
The 2nd answer would make the most sense to me BUT I am a novice when it comes to plate manufacturing and the engraving process with Hamilton. Does anyone have any ideas?
Through my research with this piece I can only find 9 other documented examples in the same serial number range, plate configuration with the hidden or covered markings as mine. They are:

4C122 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY "in Keystone Base Metal case :???: .Serial No. 289-41
4C192 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" in Keystone Base Metal case 907480. No case markings
4C224 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" No case movement plate only
4C319 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" in Keystone Base Metal case 1300254.Serial No. 454-41
4C531 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" unknown case information
4C554 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" in Keystone Base Metal case 1300916. Serial No.765-41
4C857 Movement marked "US ARMY AIR CORPS" in Keystone Base Metal 1327411. Serial No AC-42-60
4C989 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" in Keystone Base Metal case 1373050 Serial No. 524-43
4C1244 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" in .800 silver case K045296. Serial No. H-12193
Recently I have acquired 4992B:
4C145 Movement marked "BU AERO US NAVY" in Keystone Base Metal case 1300074. Serial No. 111-41 frame serial number confirmed under crystal bezel is 0074.
Is there anyone with similar examples in this serial number range to compare markings and such?
This means to me that the Hamilton Watch Co was sending out 4992Bs intended for the US NAVY in Base Metal cases before .800 silver cases were issued, correct? Even Serial number 4C1244 from the above list was obviously a re-case after service given the "H-12193" case serial number. As far as I can gather the 1943 contract data request is for 4500 80% silver cases starting with serial number "H" range 001-4500. That means there are at least 12,193 silver cases issued to the US NAVY for 4992B.
I gather that the original BASE METAL issued cases, such as mine, paired with the BU AERO US NAVY movements are quite rare, BUT they gather a low premium compared to the silver cased examples. WHY? Why is everyone so fixated in .800 silver cases and the US NAVY examples, there were others.
Also, I've gathered there were just over 23,000 22 Jewel Navigation Watches manufactured by Hamilton for the US NAVY during wartime. With only over 7700 Aircraft Navigational Watch Boxes produced for the US NAVY Navigational watches. In my opinion there are more silver cased US NAVY examples than original Base Metal cases. Were the Navigational Watch boxes intended for "BASE METAL" watches rather than SILVER to avoid corrosion? When did the manufacture of the Navigational Watch boxes start? With the 4992B in late '41? This raises interesting questions regarding Hamilton and the US Governments intentions regarding the US NAVY Navigation watches.

The 4992B was one of 121 scheduled Finished and Sold to the US Government on 1/2/1942. US/Hamilton contract 64-93420. Only 118 were sold on 1/2/1942

I also understand that these examples were manufactured, damaged, repaired, re-cased, destroyed and just plain lost in time. BUT, all we do have are the examples that still remain. The early examples such as the above 10 have had the most time circulate and be exposed to all those factors.
Please comment and share any information you may have. My research has met a dead end. Thank you for any help you can give. M
[/SUP]
 

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Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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I'm very sorry to have forgotten the photos of the 4992B plate 4C224 that shows the missing center seconds bridge. The once hidden engravement "ADJ. TEMP. 6 POS." can clearly be seen. As well as the second engravement "ADJ. TEMP. 6 POSITIONS"
4c224.jpg 4c224a.jpg
 

Tom McIntyre

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Michael, you used thumbnail shots for the two movement images. That is why they do not enlarge since the full size is smaller than the standard thumbnail. Could you post the full size images please?
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Hello Tom, sorry but the location I acquired the photo was save that way. Hopefully this way will be better, thank you for the heads up! M 4c224b.jpg
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Well, thinking on it a bit, here is another theory:

Maybe Hamilton used original "Type 1" 992B BARREL BRIDGES but manufactured new 4992B marked TRAIN WHEEL BRIDGES marked "22 Jewels"?

Anyone have a photo of the 1st type 992B Barrel Bridge handy? I hope my watch parts terminology is correct folks....
 

Jim Haney

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I don't have any early examples but I am showing 3 that may help confirm your theories.


4C1079 marked Bu.Aero U.S. Navy
4C3105 " U.S. Army Corps
4C7360 " U.S. Govt.
______________________________________________________________________


4C1079 has the two Adj.engraving,one under the sweep sec. bridge.

Info on case back, AN 5740-1
Stock# 6645-663-7694
Mfg.Part # 33106
Contract # DA-36-038 ord 20782M
Serial No.AF 59-22253

Inside case back, Star Case # R830750
______________________________________________________________

4C3105 has only one Adj. engraving by the screw.

Info on case back, AN 5740-1
Stock # 6645-557-0321
Mfg. part # 33106
Contract # DA-36-038 ord 20573
Serial No.AF 58-8610
Inside Case back, Star Case # P117708

______________________________________________________________


4C7360 Has only the one Adj. marking

Coin Silver Case
Info on Case back Part No. AN5740-1
Mfg. part # 4992B
Serial # 937-42
Contract No.86366

Inside case back Keystone .800 Silver, #4680997 Case was buffed to remove numbers, very hard to see.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

I don't have any confidence in the cases on these watches because most that I have seen have been switched and also different numbers on each case piece.Nutjob
 

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Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Hello Jim,
Thank you for sharing your information. Serial number 4C1079 is useful as it confirms and fits in between two other serial numbers and movement markings layouts.
Having your "movement" Finished and Sold to the US Government on 4/15/42 & 4/16/42 builds validity to the re-casement you mentioned. The case is an AIR FORCE '59 case. The two were not "born together".
Now I think that we can assume that Hamilton used stock 992B Barrel Bridges in the early production of the 4992B. Either they exhausted their stock or got tired of the extra engravement time and costs on the 992B Barrel Bridges used on the 4992B. In my opinion only about 1200 were made with this anomaly.
They created a "new" engravement pattern to accommodate BOTH the 992B AND the 4992B that were in production at the same time. Smart thinking and a good use of resources by Hamilton!
The wheel goes round I guess, the 992B contributed parts to the newly born 4992B and in return the 4992B gave up its left over 4C prefix plates to the retiring 992B in the "clean up runs"!
I would love to find more examples to add to the list of known "first generation" examples still in existence! Thank you Jim, M
I
 

Tom McIntyre

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image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg

Not to derail the discussion, but Hamilton also made the ordnance 992B railroad watch and the 2974B using essentially the same plates as well as the 3992B in several flavors.

Elgin and Waltham also made center second hack watches to the same specification from the military. There are also some Swiss GCT watches to the same design.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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Thanks Michael.

I can't get the knack of making closeups on my iPhone. I will have to get out the camera if we need readable pictures.
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Ive owned 992B's, 3992Bs, 4992Bs but no 2974Bs as of yet. A nice collection I once had but had to sell unfortunately. Im working on again! It looks like we have similar interests!
Below is a portion of what I used to have:
6793931277_IMG_2174.jpg

Working on it again! VERY slow but sure. Thank you for your help Jim and Tom!
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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I'd like to keep a running list of the known examples with the 992B Barrel Bridge anomoly. If anyone comes accross any 4992B in this serial number range please contact me and i'll add it to the thread. So far there are 11:

4C122 Bu Aero US Navy
4C145 Bu Aero US Navy
4C192 Bu Aero US Navy
4C224 Bu Aero US Navy
4C319 Bu Aero US Navy
4C531 Bu Aero US Navy
4C554 Bu Aero US Navy
4C857 US Army Air Corps
4C989 Bu Aero US Navy
4C1079 Bu Aero US Navy
4C1244 Bu Aero US Navy

Thank you, M
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Another example has come to my attention from a friend, thank you Alex.

4C880 Double marked movement. 12 hr conversion done. Base Metal case. No BU AERO, Army AC or US Gov markings. 12 now known:

4C122 Bu Aero US Navy
4C145 Bu Aero US Navy
4C192 Bu Aero US Navy
4C224 Bu Aero US Navy
4C319 Bu Aero US Navy
4C531 Bu Aero US Navy
4C554 Bu Aero US Navy
4C857 US Army Air Corps
4C880 No Markings, 12 hr. conversion
4C989 Bu Aero US Navy
4C1079 Bu Aero US Navy
4C1244 Bu Aero US Navy
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Here here are some photos of the 4C880 example. I post to show the movement double markings. In my opinion the barrel bridge is not original to the watch. The replacement may have come during the 12 hour conversion. It it were original it most likely would have a BU AERO US NAVY or US ARMY AIR CORPS marking. It goes to also and prove that vast amount of changes that can occur to a watch along its life. Original examples untouched are a rarity. The Train Bridge also looks like a replacement and not of the original layout or design as the first run 4992Bs as can be seen in the 4C145 example.



image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
 
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Rhett Lucke

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Michael,

You can add the following data to your list:

Dual Marking
4C001 Bu Aero US Navy
4C643 Bu Aero US Navy

Single Marking
4C1311 Bu Aero US Navy
4C2066 US Army Air Corps
4C2331 US Army Air Corps
4C2442 US Army Air Corps
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Thank you for the information. Are there any photos to post? Is it true that the first 4992B 4C001 was photographed and put away MOVEMENT ONLY and is now in the Hamilton Museum?
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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New list of the double marked movements;

4C001 Bu aero US Navy
4C122 Bu Aero US Navy
4C145 Bu Aero US Navy
4C192 Bu Aero US Navy
4C224 Bu Aero US Navy
4C319 Bu Aero US Navy
4C531 Bu Aero US Navy
4C554 Bu Aero US Navy
4C643 BU Aero US Navy
4C857 US Army Air Corps
4C880 No Markings, 12 hr. conversion
4C989 Bu Aero US Navy
4C1079 Bu Aero US Navy
4C1244 Bu Aero US Navy

14 in total. Thank you all.
 

Rhett Lucke

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Michael,

As time permits, I can try to get a picture taken of 4C643. It is marked exactly as the others you have posted.

In regards to 4C001, I noticed the dual markings in some photos I saw a couple of years ago. If I remember correctly, this watch was recorded as being in the Hamilton Technical Departments inventory in the late 1970's. I'm not sure where it may reside today.
 

Michael Payant

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Dec 22, 2015
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Thank you! That would be great. I wonder if that is a "stock" photo that someone from the NAWCC has access to. A photo of 4C001 in this thread would be excellent!
 
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