rare hamilton hacking 936 wwi watch

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jeff Hess, Apr 9, 2009.

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  1. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Super Moderator
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    Sep 3, 2000
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    could hadly wait to discuss this. auction is over so....

    Thanks to Don for his museum input.

    I guess they made 700 of these although I could not find any other references to them.

    note the hacking mechanism near the serial number and the balance wheel.

    This was called a "comparing watch" by the governemnt and sold in solid silver cases.

    Jeff
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing.

    Is this the original case, if so, how is it marked?

    Robert
     
  3. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Super Moderator
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    According to Don, these were cased in screw back and sterling silver cases. And indeed this one is in a Fahy's silver case.
     
  4. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Jeff,
    Thanks. I thought maybe the case would have Gov't markings of some kind.

    Robert
     
  5. rrstd

    rrstd Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 18, 2001
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    Jeff / Robert,

    I would agree with Don that the subject watch is one of the 700 - 936's that Halligan as being fitted up during 1918 as "Comparing Watches". Halligan also states the they were billed to "Navy Department, Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Washington, D.C." as "18-size, 17 Jewel 5 Position Comparing Watches" at $18.00 net.

    Based on the extremely small number reported to date, I would have to question how many actually survived or if the reported number were actually produced.

    The following is a photo of another example with a serial number (SN 1400532) which is very close to Jeff's watch. I've also included a photo from under the dial which further illustrates the hack mechanism.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    As can be seen below, the dial on the watch pictured above is identical to Jeff's

    [​IMG]


    In regards to the case, the example above is also case in a sterling silver screw back and bezel case. This is consistant with Halligan's records. This case however has U.S. Navy markings as shown below.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Rhett,

    Thanks for sharing the details of Halligan's records on the "Comparing Watches".

    I thought there would be some kind of Gov't markings on the original case.

    According to Hamilton's serial number records by Halligan/Gelson, both of the 936's were made in 1914-15. So it would (appear) that these remained in stock until being fitted up as "Comparing Watches" in 1918. Is this a fair assessment?

    Robert
     
  7. rrstd

    rrstd Registered User
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    Feb 18, 2001
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    Robert,

    Jeff may or may not be able to confirm (depending on whether or not he has shipped the watch to it's new owner), but it is quite possible that his example originally had Navy markings that were simply worn away over the years. The style, material and wear on his case would appear to support it's originality.

    As you are probably aware, these watches both come from the final block of 1000 - grade 936's. From the information I have, the last batch of this block went to finishing somewhere around 1915, but sales continued (from inventory) until 1927. The last year of any significant sales was in 1918, when Halligan reports total sales of 1561. Sales then dropped dramatically to 189 in 1919, 45 in 1920 and less than a handfull from 1921-1927. In my opinion, this all supports the idea that these watches were converted and shipped in 1918 as Halligan reports.
     
  8. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Rhett,

    Thank you. Your information confirms my thoughts. The sales of the 18 size movements had begun to fade making way for the smaller 16 size.

    The silver cased 936 (modified) to be a "comparing watch" was a good buy for the Gov't at $18.00.

    I also appreciate the Halligan sales info through the 20's.

    Robert
     
  9. grtnev

    grtnev Registered User
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    Jan 18, 2009
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    #9 grtnev, Sep 8, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
    In some threads on this forum, the function of a comparing watch has been stated incorrectly. Its function was not as the master timepiece on a ship or boat, but rather as an accurate enough timepiece that could be used to set the other various clocks on a ship or boat to be in agreement with the ship’s master clock.

    The following quote is from a post by Michael R. Dutton on 5 Jan 2012 as a part of a thread entitled “Waltham 17 Jwl Navy Comparing Watch”

    “Okay, being ex US Navy............... The comparing watch was used by the ship's quartermaster to set the other clocks around the ship. The comparing watch would be set against the ship's master clock or against the radio signal if available. Then the quartermaster would carry the comparing watch with him as he went around the ship setting the other clocks. This was usually done about once a week when it was time to wind the other ship's clocks - in the engine rooms or boiler rooms or other locations.

    The comparing watch would also be used, if the ship did not have a deck watch, when the stars or the sun were "shot" with the sextant, either by the ships leading quartermaster or the ship's navigator. If the ship had a deck watch - like the Hamilton Model 22, then it would be used for star and sun shots.”

    If you search this forum, you will find enumerable threads discussing both the Hamilton 2974B (16s, 17j, hack feature, adjusted to temperature and 3 positions) and the Waltham model 1908 (grade 1617, 16s, 17j, hack feature, adjusted to temperature and 3 positions) comparing watches. (As an aside, I have always been surprised that the NAWCC Forum doesn’t have a section dedicated to Military Timepieces, but that is another story for another day – as are issues with the Forum Search Engine – don’t get me started.)

    At the following link on this forum you will also find an interesting post discussing a US Navy comparing watch based on the Hamilton 974 “Special” movement, circa 1938-39: http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?...econd-Setting&highlight=974+special+comparing.

    On pages 238-240 in his book “Military Timepieces”, Whitney also references the following as being used by the U.S. Coast Guard as comparing watches.
    · an American Waltham Watch Company, 18s, Model 1883, 15j, circa 1907
    · a Waltham Colonial Model 1924, grade 209, 12s, 9j, circa 1940
    · a Hampden 18s, 21j, railroad grade watch, circa 1903
    · a Waltham Model 1892, 18s, A. T. &Co. grade, 17j watch, circa 1901

    Whitney also has detailed discussions regarding both the Hamilton 2974B and the Waltham comparing watches.

    Which brings us to the watch previously discussed in this thread from 2009, Hamilton Grade 936, serial number 1400530. As mentioned in the posts above, in late 1917 the U.S. Navy took delivery from Hamilton of 700 Grade 936 (18s, 17j, adjusted to temperature, isochronism, and 5 positons) factory cased (sterling silver) comparing watches. Note: Whitney makes no reference to these watches in his book “Military Timepieces”.

    In the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] post of this thread Hamilton Grade 936, serial number 1400530 has a seconds setting hack feature included. The spring that moves against the balance wheel to stop it is clearly visible. The 5[SUP]th[/SUP] post of this thread also references serial number serial number 1400532 as being an observed 936 from this run which also has a hack feature. Unfortunately the pictures that once were a part of that post are no longer there.

    These 700 Grade 936 watches are from the last run of 1000 of Grade 936. All 1000 watches (s/n’s 1400001 – 1401000) went to the Finishing Department on 3 June 1914. The 700 Grade 936 watches were delivered to the U.S. Navy as follows:
    · 50 watches on 15 November 1917
    · 192 watches 0n 3 December 1917
    · 246 watches on 11 December 1917
    · 212 watches on 26 December 1917

    Refer to the attached.

    As far as I can tell, the attached documents make no reference to a “hack” feature being included in the specifications for these 700 watches.

    Which brings us to serial number 1400637 and the next post in this thread.
     
  10. grtnev

    grtnev Registered User
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    #10 grtnev, Sep 8, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
    I recently acquired serial number 1400637.

    What is interesting is that serialnumber 1400637 does not have a “hack” feature. I

    In the previously referenced Hamilton documents regarding these watches,I don’t see any reference to a “hack” or seconds setting feature as a part ofthe specification.

    This begs the question: Does serialnumber 1400637 represent “the norm” for these 700 watches while serial numbers1400530 and 532 (hack feature included) represent an unknown number of these watches with a variation to specification?

    Although I probably am not using the search feature for this forum correctly, after imputing Hamilton 936 US Navy into the forum search feature and then wading through countless unrelated search results, this thread is the only reference to these 700 grade 936 watches that I could find.

    If anyone has any additional information or examples to share it would be much appreciated.
    I’m guessing that the out of these 700 watches the total that included the hack feature is a small percentage of the 700 and that most of the 700 watches did not include the hack feature. Nothing to back that up other than IMO.

    Richard
     
  11. grtnev

    grtnev Registered User
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    #11 grtnev, Sep 8, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
    Rhett - if you still has the pictures of 1400532 and could repost them, it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Richard
     
  12. Dave Chaplain

    Dave Chaplain Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2001
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    To add to the question / mystery, here's an lower numbered example that I have, with the note "1 of 4 made for a foreign navy", but unfortunately my notes don't cite the source for that detail ... it's in a hinged sterling silver case with unusual hallmarks ...

    [​IMG]
     
  13. rrstd

    rrstd Registered User
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    Feb 18, 2001
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    Reposting Pics

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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