Hamilton Electrodyne Swissonic

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Tim Orr, Sep 16, 2014.

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  1. Tim Orr

    Tim Orr National Membership Chair
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    Good afternoon, all!

    I picked up a decent-looking Hamilton Electrodyne Swissonic watch at the MKOA regional. This has a mechanical movement with a balance wheel and an interesting battery hatch cover that you can "set" to indicate the month in which the battery was last replaced. A handwritten note on the case back says "ETA 9154," though I think, based on reading here, maybe that should say "ESA 9154."

    The second hand does move a bit when I shake the watch and the balance wheel rotates visibly through the battery hatch. Hands set normally and easily. Date window increments as it should.

    I'd like to invest in a battery to see if it can be brought back to life, but can't figure out what size. A "76" seems about right in diameter, but too thick. Anybody know which battery I should try? 344?

    Thanks!

    Best regards!

    Tim Orr
     
  2. DJH584

    DJH584 Newbie

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  3. John Arrowood

    John Arrowood Registered User
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    I have used LR54/389 batteries on some of the Swissonic movements. I get the Sunbeam brand at Dollar Tree stores in a pack of 4 for $1.00. That's somewhat less expensive than a 344 and not much to worry about if they don't work. I put one in a Bulova Caravelle with the ESA movement in Feb and replaced it this week. This version of the movement uses a clamp with screws to hold the battery instead of the drop-in method. The 389 batteries are working well in Waltham and Elgin branded watches for me; these have the hatch in the back.
    Sears also sold watches with this movement under their Tradition brand.
     
  4. Tim Orr

    Tim Orr National Membership Chair
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    Many thanks, David and John!

    I'll give it a try soon!

    Best regards!

    Tim Orr
     
  5. Tim Orr

    Tim Orr National Membership Chair
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    Good evening!

    Alas, a new battery didn't do the job. Here's a pic of the innards. Turns out this thing is basically like an ATO. See the transistor? And the gray sectors on the balance wheel are magnets. And the thing that looks like a coil? When I put a battery in, the balance goes a little spastic, like it's trying to go, but even if I help it with a bit of a shake, it seems to lose rhythm and comes to a stop.

    At that point, it seems as though it's locked in to its position by the magnet. I have a sense the transistor is maybe being biased all the time, or is shorted?

    Anyway, no big loss, since I got the watch for free. What is interesting to me, however, is how often the basic ATO concept keeps turning up. I have a couple of Japanese clocks that use it, a Kundo with (incredibly) a rechargeable battery (!), a US Military 24-hour clock that has a balance wheel version of the ATO idea, and now this.

    My experience, however, is that I've never been able to get any of these ATOs, not even a "genuine" ATO, to keep good time. I suspected, and some agreed with me, that it might be partially the result of "modern" batteries, that may have different discharge characteristics from the old zinc/carbon cells, but I haven't been able to investigate this.

    Best regards!

    Tim Orr
     

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  6. flynwill

    flynwill Registered User
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    If by "ATO concept" you mean the idea of a mechanical oscillator that is sensed and impulsed by an electrical circuit. Then it is very common indeed. Consider the tuning-fork Accutron. The oscillator is a tuning fork instead of a balance wheel like in your watch or pendulum as in your ATO clocks but the concept is the same. Now consider the modern quartz watch. It too is a tuning fork sensed and driven by an electronic circuit. The only major conceptional difference is that the cycles are now counted electronically as well.

    Then there are all of those "mystery" swinging toys that they sell in gift shops.

    As for your ATOs not keeping good time due to modern batteries, that seems pretty unlikely. If anything modern alkaline cells with their lower internal resistance and more constant voltage should produce better performance.
     
  7. Tim Orr

    Tim Orr National Membership Chair
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    Good afternoon, Will!

    Actually, I am surmising that the copper circle under the escape wheel is, in fact, a coil (When I magnify it a lot, that's what it looks like) and that the magnets passing over the coil bias the transistor, making this watch operate very like the ATO principle. There's an active electrical switching going on as a result of the oscillator's motion.

    As to why I have such bad luck with ATO-like clocks and their timekeeping, I do not know. I only know that I have no luck with them.

    Best regards!

    Tim Orr
     
  8. flynwill

    flynwill Registered User
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    Yes I'm pretty sure the copper circle is a coil. I don't know a lot about these myself so I can't say what is used to generate the signal for the transistor. There were some that still had a mechanical contact on the balance itself -- The transistor being an upgrade from the electric watches where the contact directly switched the coil. Maybe someone with experience with these can post a schematic for us.
     

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