Hamilton 973 dial question

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by musicguy, Jan 23, 2018.

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  1. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    #1 musicguy, Jan 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
    I have an empty nice Hunter case and I'm looking to fill it with
    an orphan movement Hamilton 973(or maybe some other ones).
    From what I've read the 973 should have a double sunk dial, but I've seen many for sale
    that are only single sunk. So the question is are they
    replacement dials, or did some come with single sunk dials(depending on the year).
    My preference is a later one that is lever set.

    Thanks
    Rob
     
  2. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
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    My 973 has a ds Arabic dial

    Tom
     
  3. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Rob,
    According to Halligan's notes the early numbers up to 52000-63000 had SS dials and after 300,000 they had DS dials. I would stay away from the early models as they had detent stems and some had 17s dial plates.
     
  4. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Thanks, I had read that and I do want it to fit my 16s case.


    Rob
     
  5. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    As per my first post in this thread I've been looking for a Hamilton 973
    movement and during my search I had also seen a lower grade
    Hamilton 975 17j (with gold fill engraving, gold screws and regulator/spring)
    private label with a beautiful mint double sunk dial.
    I decided to get the 975 for my empty 16s keystone silver demi hunter case.
    I'm going to send the entire watch to
    William P. Fassler & Company Antique Pocket Watch Case Repair
    because it needs the outside small crystal, and a new
    inside bezel(it's missing the bezel) and crystal. It should be a really fine
    looking watch when I get it back. I will post it then.

    Thanks Tom and Jim for the above answers.

    Rob
     
  6. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Rob.
    Hamilton's with Gold colored (GILT) screws and regulators are listed in the Hamilton Ledgers as GT(Gilt Trimmed) and are a nice upgrade from the regular Nickel finish.

    If your choice is under serial number 824,700 you can look it up on the NAWCC main site under Library and the drop down menu under resources and go down the list untill Hamilton Serial number Factory records and you can lookup every single watch they made and when it was finished and who it was sold to and the date sold.!

    This is an amazing resource to give provenance to each watch.

    You can NOT do this with any other company and it is the reason that I settled on Hamilton's, after a few years of trying to collect everything, besides the fact that I don't have enough money to collect everything !
     
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  7. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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  8. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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  9. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Rob,

    Yes, the 2nd link, the one Terry highlighted. When you put in the serial number is shows you the actual Ledger page with 50 watches per page and find your watch and see when it was finished and who it was sold to.

    :eek: You have to be a NAWCC member to see this info
     
  10. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Thanks Terry and Jim, I saw the actual Ledger page last night(very interesting).
    One of my son's was home from college and saw
    me doing this research. While looking at the(old looking) ledger pages on my computer screen
    he said, "you are really getting deep into this research",
    and also said jokingly, "I hope it points you to some buried/hidden treasure";).
    I laughed.

    Rob
     
  11. OldSchool1959

    OldSchool1959 Seaboard Coastline RR Fanatic!
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    Do these have 4ft dials? I found a 1907 Hamilton 973 that I would bid on if I knew it had a 4ft dial on it.
    Thanks
     
  12. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    I'd be looking under 800,000 for serial number...
    it would benefit you to borrow from the Library Halligan's notes... in there the serial number change for 3foot dial is just over 1million, but I've not verified by observation...
    The Halligan records are invaluable for someone with Hamilton interest..
     
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  13. OldSchool1959

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    Thanks the one I am looking at is in the 700K range.
     
  14. DeweyC

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    You will be happy with a 973. It is a watch that proves that 17 jewels is all that is needed for a RR grade (did not say RR approved) watch.

    One way to tell a contemporary 4 ft dial is if the 30-minute marker is upside down. The other thing to check is the script for the signature is contemporary to the movement. I believe replacement 4 ft dials were made by Hamilton but with the signature being used at the time. You can find that info in the Hamilton Watch Co. threads at the top of the board.

    I know Jim has done a lot of work on Hamilton dials. but ever since I wound up with a single sunk dial on a 963 I have become a little less sure about the traditional rules of thumb for dial matches. I know this dial is original to the watch because it and the movement are signed the same. Then, my reading of the Hamilton materials is that they would give you whatever you wanted as long as they had it to sell.

    Jim brings up a great point about the early hunters. They were positive set pendant set watches. In these, the stem was actually to stay with the movement. Ironically, 50 years after Hamilton abandoned positive setting mechanisms, the negative set was abandoned by the industry and the positive set is what we have on "all" modern watches.

    I personally collect primarily the positive set hunters (and an occasional OF positive set). One, they were made in very small numbers. Secondly, that is what all early (pre-1905/7?) pendant set Hamiltons were.

    Add to the mix that prior to 1901 Hamilton watches were actually 17 size watches to fit the cases made at the time. Hamilton would turn these down to 16 size after 1901 upon request. Which makes finding a 17 s Hamilton pendant set very hard to find. I have two, one with the oversized dial and another with the standard 16s dial.

    Many of these movements are now orphaned, without cases. There are a lot of suggestions why this might be, but since I make the stems for these movements so I can fit them into period cases, any watchmaker in the 1900s could have done so.

    I think many of these were fitted into gold cases which were subsequently scrapped. Even the 974/975/976/977 were a quality watch compared to the what other companies were offering as their mass market lines. If people were putting 7 jewel movements into gold cases, I see no reason why they would not have done so with the Hamiltons.

    Finally, I think the low survival is first and foremost a function of low production. We may never run out of 992s. But most of the positive set watch grades had a total production of under 5,000 pieces.

    Then comes the casing issue. I do not think people abandoned these early watches because they could not get them recased. I think that when there were recessions, depressions, war, and gold rushes, as well as individual hard times, the watches were sold for gold value. So a "large" percentage of a low number of watches "disappeared". And remember, hunters fell out of favor by WWI, and by 1935 I think Hamilton only offered the 974 and the 992B in 16s. So there was no point in recasing these orphaned movements.

    As a result, I take the opposite tack as Jim. I look out for these watches because they are far more interesting to me than the watches produced after Hamilton really figured out what it wanted to do.
     
  15. OldSchool1959

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    When you say the 30 marker is upside down, I will assume this one is a 3 post dial? Would I be correct in assuming this?
    Thanks

    Screenshot 2019-05-19 at 1.43.10 AM.png
     
  16. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    OldSchool,

    No, this dial would be a four footed dial. Look at the half hour marker, the 30 is upside down as Dewey mentioned.

    The change from 4-foot to 3-foot took place in the 1911-12 time frame according to the Halligan Papers .

    With respect to the change on the dials, i.e. 30 min. upright and upside down, I haven't found any written reference to this, but have noted using serial numbers that this change took place about the same time frame as the dial foot change.

    Robert
     
  17. Harvey Mintz

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    I have a 4-footed dial (double sunk) with the "30" mark upside down, and 3-footed (double sunk) dial that ALSO has the "30" mark upside down. It's not an accurate indicator.
     
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  18. Jim Haney

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    If you can't see the back of the dial you were refereed to Halligan's notes and he says they went to 3 foot dial a little over a million. Different grades had different serial number cuts offs, I have always used as a general rule 884,00 because more grades used this cut off than others

    Halligan's Notes and Movements Hamilton 074.jpg
     
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  19. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    #19 Robert Sweet, May 19, 2019
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
    Disregard my last comments.

    Robert
     
  20. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    if you can 'see' the movement, even in the case, most four foot dials will show a foot in location from the movement side.
    At 'some' point I'll try to take a pic to demonstrate.
    IIRC no dial foot post on a three footed example of any 16s grade is capable of viewing from the movement side, the location is under plates.
    The at least one of the four foot locations is between plates...and visible.
     
  21. OldSchool1959

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    I had a guy offer to sell me one for $120.00 with issues. It had a hairline and a few minor flea bites. I had to pass. Way too much in my opinion for its condition. I hope since I didnt mention names that this doesnt violate the conditions on posting.
     
  22. OldSchool1959

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    I cant its at an auction. So I will have to hope to get it for the right price or let it go...
     
  23. terry hall

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    you should still be oK according to the serial number posted..
     
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  24. Nathan Moore

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    Hamilton-4-Foot-vs-3-Foot-Dial-sm.jpg
     
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  25. Jim Haney

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    TA,
    Thanks for this. I have been collecting these for over 25+ years and had never noticed this :cool: .

    There is always something to be learned :);):D
     
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  26. OldSchool1959

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    Wow, looked at a picture of the movement, and low and behold there is the foot right where you said it would be. What a great place to be a part of!
    Thanks so much. Now I know how to bid!
     
  27. DeweyC

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    I cannot provide pics just now, but I just now purchased a 975 with an original 4 ft RN
    double sunk dial. Private labels of dial and movt match.

    Will provide specifics in a couple days. But, for me, the most important thing to look at is the dial signature. Is it contemporary to the movt finish date?

    I now have combinations of dial/movt that do not support the rule of thumb that DS dials were reserved for RR grades and SS dials were only found on non RR grades.

    The sales record for both watches do not record the dial no signatures used.

    Using the term "primarily" would seem appropriate when discussing dials and movements. But given the dial switching we know was so rampant, especially on RR approved watches, the use of SS dials on RR grades may be unknowable.

    It appears that Hamilton would supply whatever combination you wanted; Halligan's statements notwithstanding. I think he even makes it clear this was not set in stone.

    I would certainly think hard before changing a SS, contemporary signature dial, on an early RR grade watch to a DS dial simply because that is what is "supposed" to be there. Takes us back to the days of what a RR watch case was supposed to be.

    Of course, in some ways, the horse is already out of the barn and we have no way of drawing conclusions based on the watches that have now survived. Too much switching around by now.
     
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  28. Jim Haney

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    Dewy,

    I would agree that unless you have a box end label you can't prove anything with dials.

    You would want to believe Halligan's notes of what grade came with what dial for a basic rule, however a customer could choose any dial, HOWEVER AGAIN, why would some choose a SS dial if the grade comes with a nice DS dial?

    Copy this chart that Robert Sweet made up about Dial signatures and the dates associated with the type of signatures and at least, the correct signature should speak for itself according to the years the watch was produced.

    Hamilton Dial signatures...how accurate?
     
  29. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jim,

    Thanks. I have Robert's stuff; a lot of stuff is in my files thanks to everyone who provided it. I have a lot of your stuff in there. I am analyzing some of the documentation to gain insight into what and how Hamilton was able to become the juggernaut of precision watches. I hope to have something to say in a couple months.

    For example, any individual 16s part (pallet counterpoise, pinion, screws, barrel, winding wheel, crown wheel and core, pallet frame, pallet jewel hole jewel, cap jewel, etc.) could have been used in any particular watch. All pallet jewels were radiused until the flat jewels came in.

    All could be adjusted to position by any competent watchmaker. I would think 974/975s with full seller signatures might be such candidates. No way to prove anything of course. Today we would call it "value added".

    They simply did not compete on the lower jeweled movts and the 976 (15 jewel) was short lived. Only in the 960s did they do extra high end finishing (beveled steel work) and those were short lived as well.

    I can think of a number of reasons why someone might select a SS dial. Perhaps there was a credit and the watch was intended as a working watch. The buyer may have agreed with Ball about SS dials. They may have liked the aesthetics better. The original buyer was not thinking about Engle and Shugart.

    But what we see today is strongly confounded by what is termed "survivor" error. We are looking at watches that for one reason or another have gotten through the years. We certainly would be incorrect to draw conclusions about the accuracy of RR watches by what we see today. We know we cannot really trust the cases we find them in. You and I run into this bias with the early Hamiltons; how many still have their 17s dial plates or dials?

    What would be really nice is if we found records that show how watches were put up as they were sold. But we cannot begin to collect all the original boxes with the content listings.

    So I have become very cautious and am very accepting of various combinations. The only thing I really look for is the dial signature; is it contemporary to the movt. And thank you Robert for that work.

    As an aside, I am not clear when the full "Hamilton Watch Co." signature was dropped. For some reason, I think it was around 1907:???:
     
  30. Dano4734

    Dano4734 Registered User

    I always had such a problem with 4 ft dials i always find watches with the dials broken and had to pay up for a good 4 ft dial for the watch
     

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