Marine: Hamilton model 22 marine chronometer

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by Gene, Aug 1, 2011.

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  1. Gene

    Gene Registered User

    Jul 19, 2010
    back in the 90's, my ex wife bought me a Hamilton model 22 marine chronometer.

    Over time, the mainstring broke. I took it back to the shop she bought it from, and instead of replacing the mainspring, the guy cut the end off and drilled a new hole.

    As you might have guessed, the mainspring has broken again, and although I am comfortable working on clocks, I don't touch watches, much less one of this caliber.

    I have some questions/comments:

    Can anyone recommend a good repair guy, fair priced, who knows these watches well, and will replace the mainspring with the correct one? (hopefully in Southern California.)

    Over the years, I have seen many comparisons between the 22 and 21, many of which seem to be contradictory. I know the basic mechanical differences between the two, but the 21 seems to go for more cash. From what I have seen, the 22 is a more modern design and basically a large watch, and the 21 is a clock. They were both developed concurrently for the Navy because the marine chronometers formerly sourced in Europe were no-longer available at the beginning of the US entering WWII, and I see no reason why Hamilton was asked to develop two. Seems one would have been enough.

    Mechanically, the 22 seems more modern for the time, has more jewels, and would seemingly have a slight edge. Obviously, I am missing a piece of the puzzle. Can someome educate me?


  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
    Calgary, Alberta
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    The model 22 is based on the 36-size chronometer watch that Hamilton introduced in about 1916, according to Marvin Whitney. So the Model 22 was basically a re-work of that chronometer rather than a total departure as was the Model 21. Early in 1940, the military set out specifications for a marine chronometer and asked Seth Thomas, Chelsea, Jaeger, Meylan, Hamilton, Elgin, and Waltham to design and produce a working prototype as fast as possible, Hamilton began to realize that the 36-size chronometer would not fill the bill. They decided that they would have to design a full-sized marine chronometer. But because of the short time available to come up with a working prototype, they would have to use an existing design by a noteworthy chronometer maker as a place to start, and to improve the design by introducing modern materials, features, and production methods. They copied the Nardin 85-size spring detent chronometer with fusee. This basic chronometer had likely been around since the mid-1800s (don't know an exact date), and it was the winning design which Hamilton put into production, delivering the first two in February of 1942. This all according to Marvin Whitney.

    Hamilton said that, had there been more time available, they could likely have designed a chronometer capable of meeting the required specifications, without using a fusee. But time was a luxury not available to them.

    Mainsprings should be available from Larry Crutsinger. As to finding someone to do the work? That shouldn't be hard to do. Suggestions anyone?

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