Hamilton electrics

Jeff Hess

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Ok,

Dan (a VERY knowledgable guy, known in the UK and soon here as the "regent of the Hamilton Electric") says that they keep good time.

I maintain that they have never and will never keep good time but that we all give them a little slack in our opinions as we KNOW that they do not keep good time.

Lets discuss this. If you are very strongly opinionated and are heavily biased, well what the heck, feel free to post! (But try to be as unbiased as possible).

Questions: a) Do they keep good time?
b) Do you like them because of the style or the "cutting edge 1953 technology"?

Jeff Hess ;)
 

Jeff Hess

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Ok,

Dan (a VERY knowledgable guy, known in the UK and soon here as the "regent of the Hamilton Electric") says that they keep good time.

I maintain that they have never and will never keep good time but that we all give them a little slack in our opinions as we KNOW that they do not keep good time.

Lets discuss this. If you are very strongly opinionated and are heavily biased, well what the heck, feel free to post! (But try to be as unbiased as possible).

Questions: a) Do they keep good time?
b) Do you like them because of the style or the "cutting edge 1953 technology"?

Jeff Hess ;)
 

LARRY STEWART

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I LOVE THE STYLING OF THESE WATCHES. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW WELL THEY KEEP TIME. GOOD TIME FOR A MECHANICAL WATCH (IN MY OPINION) WOULD BE WITHIN A HALF MINUTE A WEEK. CAN THE HAMILTON ELECTRICS MATCH THAT? I WOULD BUY ONE ANYWAY.
 

doug sinclair

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Jeff,

There seemed to be a consensus on the Message Board, during a recent thread devoted to the Hamilton Electric, that they weren't good time keepers. I have three of them which vary anywhere between 12 to 60 minutes in 24 hours. In fairness to the Hamilton Electric, what was said on that thread was largely empirical.

When you get right down to the scientific evidence on the matter, the company that made them, and spent years, and a lot of money trying to make them a success, seems to have acknowledged they were not good time keepers, and were otherwise unreliable.

I don't know what it would take to change what seems to be a generally held opinion that they were NOT good timekeepers. Can any of those who support the notion that the Hamilton Electric can be a good timekeeper, offer concrete evidence in the form of a log, say over a 30-day period, showing the rate of one that DOES keep time, and what they did to it to MAKE it keep time?
 
W

Wayne D.

I have one of the later Hamilton electrics. Probably from '69, I forget what the Grade is and I'm kinda scared to open it since it took me a long time to get the darn thing running. Seems the battery needs to be in exactly the right spot for it to run. Anyways, it runs about 5 minutes fast in a 24 hour period which is fine by me. I just compensate for that. I'm just happy the watch is running!
 
M

marcchabot

.
If you guys like whacky new design with an uncertain futur, you should have a look a the Tag Heuer Monaco V4 Concept watch with it's 13 timing belts replacing the wheel train.
:eek:
 

4thdimension

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Are you serious? I thought Jeff was the
one putting his rep on the line by unilaterally
endorsing the accuracy of the Ham electrics. :p
A relevent story:
A pal I used to work for as a salvager at the Berkeley dump has found many of these watches
discarded there including an Altair(no lie).
One he kept needed a battery or something and
I directed him across the bay to Rene Rondeau.
Rene popped in the battery and then checked it on his machine and declared he'd never had one come in that charted so well.
Now we know the best place to shop for them! ;)
-Cort
p.s. Marc, Whacky IS the best word for the new Tag! I saw a write-up on it in the new Popular Science magazine. It does look cool and the belts on ball bear runners are supposed to be
more frictionless than gears. I see a 6000- watch running on rubber bands but this is obviously not the case. I'd be interested to see the "tech manual" on it. How does one tension such a belt? :confused: -C
 

Jeff Hess

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Jeff Hess putting his rep on the line as to their accuracy?? LOL. Hmmm..no not me...

As to the Tag, I studied it for a couple of hours at Basel fair. "Daring" is an understatement.

I kind of like it when these companies take a chance on something really "out there".

Innovation is exciting.

But you cannot bet the whole company on it as Hamilton did.

Had they not invested so heavily in this woefully flawed techonology, they would still exist today in America.

They still exist of course. And they are STILL Hamilton, even though they use ETA movements.

Heck, they have been using ETA movements for 50 years!

Jeff Hess
 

Hank Grimmick

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That Tag does look interesting. A humorous brief article on it in Business Week pointed out that it used a timing belt, just like a car and, not coincidentally, cost about the same as a Saturn!

As for accuracy of the Hamiltons, although I only wear my Pacer for a day at a time, it appears to be accurate to about +/- 3 minutes over that period. (Single data point.)

Also, let's not lose sight of the fact that many people buy watches similar to the way they buy cars. While there is a need for timekeeping or locomotion, there is also a desire for some emotional satisfaction. Otherwise everyone would wear a Swatch and drive a Camry. Was it Audemars or Patek that produced the Philosopher watch that only had an hour hand?

Hank
 
D

Doug

I MUST BE LUCKY.

I HAD A 1964 MODEL AND IT KEPT TIME WITH ATOMIC QUARTZ CLOCK UP UNTIL WHEN I SOLD IT A COUPLE WEEKS AGO. I HAD COMMENTED THAT IT KEPT BETTER TIME THAN MY ACCUTRONS.
 

danM

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As I may have said before - most timing problems with the 505 movement will be due to a sticky "finger-block" - Hamilton's method of overbank limiting. This when it gets sticky makes the balance run fast and/or erratically - but if cleaned properly, and the balance fitted with a new contact, you get as good timekeeping as any other Hamilton mechanical watch of the same age.

Dan, England
 

Jeff Hess

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I swear Dan knows more about Hamilton Electrics than anyone I have interacted with on the subject.

So what the says must have merit.

My experience has been otherwise though.

I have been studying this for a long time. I thought once that my reasoning was flawed because I am not a mechanic, as many of you uys on here are.

But I recall interviewing Bill Smith, who wrote the Hamilton Electric reapir manual" when I lived in Champaign illinois (he was teaching at the local Junior college at the time) and he also said it was, if I remember his words correctly, "a losing proposition" to try to make them run right.

Jeff Hess
 

Hank Grimmick

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Doug,

That video on the website is delightful. It is so inspiring that if I had a Saturn, I'd go trade it in for the watch ;).

It certainly is a different approach...or is it? Does that autowind mechanism remind me a little of the old Omega "bumper" style? Merely linear instead of circular? :eek:

But I still applaud Tag for doing something different. And how about those ball bearing races? Pretty tiny!

Since I'm just a hobbyist, let's hear from the professionals. How do you feel about working on that watch in a few years?? What do you think the failure modes will be and what will be the biggest challenges to working on it?

If I read the Biz Week article correctly, this is a prototype movement that will be used in lower end watches as well. Other than the fact that it appeals to those of us bitten by the horological bug, is there any real value to the design?

Thanks for the link.

Hank
 

danM

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Someone tell me how to see the video - I just get a blank screen.

dan
 

4thdimension

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I wish the ham electrics had won the early electric stage of watch evolution. Accutrons swept them aside too soon.
I've read in National Geo that there were several sorts of early people that once lived on the planet at same time(Australopithicus Robustus or Africanus etc.) but most died off leaving what we have today.If the Robustus folks had won, football,as we know it,would seem like a sissy sport.
Accutrons were the stepping stone to Quartz technology, the Ham Electric was a brilliantly executed lever watch operating on electro-magnets but a stepping stone to nowhere. In the end, Hamilton will win the collectible prize between the two because the cool designs kick Accutron butt. IMHO :)
-Cort
p.s. Doug , Thanks for the Tag link. Thats fun!
 
W

Wayne D.

You're right there, about the cool designs on the Hamilton Electrics. I'm just wondering if anyone would collect these watches if they were just your everyday round wristwatch. We have Mr. Richard Arbib to thank for such great designs. He gets my vote as the true genius at Hamilton.
 

Jeff Hess

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Cort, Wayne,

I Agree for the most part with both of you.

The "technology" of the Electric lead nowhere, but Richard ARbib's designs will live forever.

Richard was a cool guy. As "out there" as you would expect him to be.

Have you seen his car designs? His rocket ships?
Even his vaccuum cleaners seemed to be ready to fly away at any moment.

Jeff
 

Jeff Hess

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here a couple of pics of a recent aquistiion..
note he did this in 1940!

I also have other originals of his, one being a transister radio..

Jeff Hess
 
D

Doug

TO: JEFF HESS,

I AM SERIOUS. I THINK MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE KEPT IT INSTEAD OF SELLING IT. IT MUST BE A RARE EXAMPLE !!!!!

IT IS THE FIRST HAMILTON ELECTRIC I HAVE OWNED AND I DIDN'T KNOW THEY HAD A BAD HISTORY OF KEEPING TIME.

I DO OWN SOME ACCUTRONS AND THE HAMILTON DID STAY CLOSER TO THE ATOMIC CLOCK THAN THE ACCUTRONS.
 

danM

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I don't agree that Hamilton's Electric lead nowhere - at least it must have made Bulova get a move on and ready their design for the market, and that in turn ------.

If we accept chaos theory the Hamilton Electric butterfly flapping its wings caused everything that followed - (I assume we are all familiar with chaos theory and that I need not give a 20 page summary) :)

Gosh - what damage Jeff H. must be doing just moving his arms -- aaargh !

Dan.
 

Jeff Hess

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Dan,

Chaos theory and the Hamilton Electric?

Now THAT makes sense!

Jeff, flapping wings and gums
 

Julian Smith

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If some one at Hamilton had been odd enough to see that the coil and magnets could be swapped from one place to the other the Hamilton would have lived longer.When I saw the swiss electric with the magnet on the balance wheel I said to myself,"Self,Why didn't they do this at Lancaster?"
Well, that is the way the ball bounced.
J Smith
 

4thdimension

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DanM, You are right of course. It is stunning that watch technology jumped from mechanical to electro-mechanical to tuning fork in about three years or so. History should have moved more slowly so Mr. Arbib could have had the chance to enjoy the fresh canvas a bit longer
(or something like that).
-Cort
 

danM

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Originally posted by Julian Smith:
If some one at Hamilton had been odd enough to see that the coil and magnets could be swapped (end quote)
===============================================

But also needed would have been a cheap transistor to do the switching, to enable the fragile 500 movement's contact wires to be done away with. That is probably more vital than the above swap. And that was the problem - a very few years later than 1955/56 a cheap transistor was available, and Bulova used it.

Sic transit gloria ---

Dan.
 

Jeff Hess

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DAn!
I found an old Pacer this AM that was worn through on the back everywhere! Just worn out!

Put a battery in it (a 500!) and it ran like crazy! Has been running all morning!

Only lost 40 minutes since 8:30 but it runs!

Jeff

Seriously guys, if you do not already know it, Dan M. is a true expert, collector and expert on the subject.... awesome guy..
 

danM

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Worn out was it ? Well Pacers often are, and therein lies a clue - to have that extent of wear the watch must have been in regular use for years. Indeed many Pacers I get to fix have such wear on the back edges - now this did not happen overnight - it took years. Now that would not have happened if the timekeeping had been as awful as some suggest.

dan.
 

Jeff Hess

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Amen Greg!

IF there was ever a testimonial to your statement it is these watches.

Sad, as said earlier, that Arbib's designs were not on a better watch...

Jeff Hess
 

Jeff Hess

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DAN,

Where did you get that?

I can tell you that the majority of the Hamitlon electrics had Arbibs input and or influence.

You will see scores (and if I can afford it) hundreds of his designs in my book (only a ew years away.. :) ..

Jeff Hess
 

Jeff Hess

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Dan,

I am working on a mini book for Ball Watch Company right now and writing for HR WATCHES magazine (and trying to run a REAL business) so tings are going slowly..

I think the pic you posted is one of the "genuine reproduction" renderings that Mr. Arbib did after I introduced Mr. ARbib to Rene and others.

All of my renderings are Genuine 1950's to 1960. None of the original finished renderings existed from the original time. Arbib did a few AFTER the fact for several people inthe late 80's and early 90's.

Correct me if I am wrong...

And if I type faster thane wer get allof those danged typos that I am knownefor and peopel get real uspet eith me. So typing fasti is not an optinon... Jeff Hess :)
 
W

Wayne D.

Mr. Hess how about a book on Mr. Arbib? He's not even listed in a google/aol search. You may have more information on him than anyone alive.
 
W

Wayne D.

Opps! I take that back about nothing being in a google search. I may have spelled his name wrong the first time. Sorry.
 
W

Wayne D.

Now that I got that info opened I see a Mr. Hampton Wayt is in the process of writing a book on Mr. Arbib. Seems Mr. Arbib was better known as a designer of outdoor motor boat motors. Also found out he did some covers for Galaxy sc-fi magazine in the early 50's. Mr. Arbib was everywhere.
 

Jeff Hess

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Hi Wayne,

I would say Mr. Arbib was more wll known as a watch designer than anything else.

Mr. Wyat has tried to buy my collection of of over 60 or 70 original hand drawn Arbib renderings and hundreds of his studio original photographs of watches and I have tried to buy his automotive stuff.

Mr. Wyat and I discussed briefly working togethet on a book and my book was originally going to be a book on Arbib.

Until I found those incredible hand written lad books on the Electric on EBAY.

Now it will include information on both. Arbib is credited with putting the fins on 1950's cars and worked with Harley Earl.

He was a very cool guy. The NAWCC reprinted one of my articles about ARbib, if you can find it. I think it is listed in Google. Try Arbib Hess.

Jeff
 
W

Wayne D.

Hi Mr. Hess - Found the google search, but it wouldn't open. Needs renewed I guess. Can't wait to read the part about Betty Paige. The more I find out about this gentleman (Mr. Arbib), the more he amazes me!
 
W

Wayne D.

Thank you Mr. Hess for sharing that interview! Like you, when you first met him, I am in awe.
 

danM

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For info. on Arbib and other watch designers look up "Pieter Doensen", and get his "Watch" book.

Dan.
 

Hank Grimmick

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Jeff,

Thanks for sharing the article. Any chance of seeing pictures of that clock you have:???:

Thanks,

Hank
 

William Hansen

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Jeff,

I appreciate your research and your contribution to what is known about Arbib.

I've often wondered if Arbib was responsible for the "Flight I & II", the most Jetson's like Hamilton made, or the K-475. Did he design the Altair, or the manual wind ladies watch, the Vesta?

WJH
 
W

Wayne D.

I have a question for Mr. Hess. I know that interview ypu did with Mr. Arbib was a long time ago and you may have to search your memory bank on this one, but can you remember what wristwatch Mr. Arbib was wearing? And please don't spoil it by saying a Timex!
 

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