Speaking of Surprise Wins (Ham 950 and gold scrapping)

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by DeweyC, Oct 19, 2019.

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  1. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    I bid on this as a lark.

    Antique Hamilton Lever Set Pocket Watch Movement 25 Jewels Adjusted With Crystal | eBay

    Got it and is coming today. BUT, how many people will believe it is the original dial?

    I asked the seller if he still had the gold case and he honestly told me it was melted down for scrap. So it goes. At least he did not melt down the crystal, movt ring and stem.

    But, this makes me believe the dial is original.

    I will put it in a Hamilton GF case. That way it should be pretty safe from another scrapper.

    When it rains it pours I guess. Problem is, I do not need two!
     
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  2. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Why would you think the dial is original? The Factory description says DS dial. ?

    Great buy, but if you have to buy a correct dial & case you would be back at a fair price .
     
  3. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jim,

    I have found many variations that can be documented by the fact that the dial and movt were matching private label. From 963 w/SS to 974 w/DS. Hamilton would sell whatever you want, including metal dials for railroaders on low budgets.

    Hard and fast rules are what created the "iconic" RR watch of the 80s and I am very skeptical of them.
     
  4. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    I'd personally need to place a double sunk marginal minute dial on that movement, even if in a skeleton case.....
    that's me.....
     
  5. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,
    Yes, there are exceptions to most descriptions, however I would need a receipt with the exception documented for it to be a keeper.

    I have found over the 25+ years of collecting Hamilton s that they are very few and far between.

    The 960 Series is classic because they were the 1st 16s watches that Hamilton started with and they didn't have any experience with them and hired Waltham employees to get the 16s watches to market and the "detent" system was about out dated at this time and they used SS dials on some of them, but in the overall scheme of things by 1909 when they introduced the 950 they had their stuff together and relied on factory advertising and their descriptions.

    They advertised them as fitted with DS dials and you can bet 99% were sold this way. There may have been a rare situation where a customer requested a SS dial on one, but why would they?
     
  6. Rhett Lucke

    Rhett Lucke Board Secretary
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    Is it possible that the dial on this 950 is original? Maybe, but count me in as a skeptic. As Jim mentioned, Hamilton advertised these watches as being supplied with double sunk dials. It seems unlikely to me that someone would specifically request the watch with a lower level, single sunk dial. If so, I would suspect that the change would have been made by the retailer. Whether original or not, most collectors would want theirs to have the correct double sunk variety.

    Having said this, It think you did real well on the purchase.
     
  7. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Rhett,

    It depends on where one prefers to make the error. Hamilton was very clear about supplying whatever dial you wanted, and I have already documented discrepant dials via matching private labels (including names of individuals).

    So my bias is that unless there is direct information to the contrary (seller sez they changed dial, dial is not contemporary) to err on the side of keeping it as is.

    Given it was obtained by the seller in its gold Hamilton case, I see no evidence to support the dial is not original. I think the only way to tell these things is the "as shipped" records.

    I can understand the desire to replace it with the "correct" dial. But we already know how much information was lost by swapping to make watches more "original".

    Hence my bias.

    Got it in BTW and cased it in a Hamilton jointed case. It is in great cosmetic condition but it needs to be serviced. I am interested in positional error after it is serviced and before I make any required adjustments. Looks unmolested.
     
  8. Rhett Lucke

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    I don’t believe I ever suggested that you replace the dial.

    We will likely never know definitively how this watch left the factory or what has happened over the many years since that time. I do however, remain skeptical.
     
  9. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    After reading the title of the Ebay listing I think you were taken advantage of
    it says 25 jewels and they only sent you a watch with 23;)

    It's a nice looking movement.



    Rob
     
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  10. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    The way traders this day and time swap cases, hands, dials, and movements, this movement may have its umpteenth dial in the past 100 years. :)

    Robert
     
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  11. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    #11 John Cote, Oct 19, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
    It doesn't really matter if there is a possibility that this dial is original or not. Let's just all admit that it might, slightly be possible...even though it really probably isn't. It doesn't matter because nobody will ever want to believe it. A person with an Illinois Ball without the pierced hands can spend his whole life trying to convince all of his collector buddies that, because a drawing exists in some early Ball literature of an Illinois Ball with normal Ball hands, that his Ball is correct...but after all of the convincing nobody cares. They only want the Illinois Balls with pierced hands. It's the same with your 950. Nobody wants it with a single sunk dial. If it makes you happy that's what matters. Convincing anybody else is a losing game...It just doesn't matter. Basically, if you believe it and it makes you happy...just be happy.
     
  12. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    John,

    That was my point. Most people want the iconic as defined by some expert with no regard to how the business actually worked. I know a guy who takes advantage of this by faking watches and passing them through auction houses. Showed me a mandolin watch before sending it to Europe. Also skull watches. What was the provenance: It looked exactly like the pictures in the book.

    Same thing with RR watches in the 80s. All watches had to be in a 1930s style case with specific dials and lever set, open face. This is why the early Hamiltons were completely ignored; all pendant set ane many hunting. Today we know these were RR approved watches.

    A friend in Germany once sent me a book the title of which translates "They want to be fooled". It was about how there are far more examples of early furniture than could possibly have been sold or made.

    The point is, I do in fact know about "what collectors want". In fact, in the 80s and 90s I tarted up (read vandalised) many fine chronometers by polishing up the brass and refinishing the case to satisfy the then European demand for them to "look like they just left the maker's hand".

    I do not collect to market for sale. I collect for a very specific purpose. This is not to say that I don't need to prune now and again. But what happens to a watch after it leaves my hands is not my responsibility.

    This is why I once proposed permitting watch trading. It is something collectors used to do as opposed to dealing. I would much prefer to trade watches I need to prune rather than sell them.

    In this case, there is nothing to support the conclusion that the dial is not original. The case was the gold Hamilton, the dial script is contemporary. There are no notes with the watch saying the dial was replaced. Hamilton was a service oriented business and made clear they would provide whatever dial the customer wanted. The only argument is that it does not look like what is in the book.

    It is up to the holder to decide how to interpret the absence of evidence.
     
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  13. Brad Maisto

    Brad Maisto Registered User
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    I would like to know if you found the 24th and 25th jewel? Just asking for future reference!
    Thanks, Brad Maisto (Elgin Collecter) Kentucky Floral #44 Secretary
     
  14. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Brad,

    Gotta love eBay. Just glad no one bothered to correct the seller.
     
  15. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    The above statement sums up my thoughts on this also, and I wonder why it is so important for anyone to believe that it is original, when it goes against all the facts and logic?

    Also,. my BS detector went off on the story of the case. A Factory logo Hamilton case in 14K would bring more than scrap .
     
  16. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jim,

    I posit the other way with my statement. I wonder why it is so important for anyone to believe it is non original merely on the basis of what an expert sez. We went down that road in the 80s.

    I am trained as a scientist. I follow the data. In this case, we have Shroedinger's cat. The case can be interpreted two ways.

    There are two possible conclusions that can be drawn from the current data:
    The dial may be original
    The dial may not be original.
    To say otherwise is to claim access to evidence that is not available.

    If we apply Occam's razor, we have "what the collectors want " and Hamilton sales literature saying how the 950 is presented on one side. On the other we have Hamilton's sales literature (and correspondence and practice) saying they will provide whatever dial the buyer wants, the dial itself is contemporary and we know the case was original. We also know the movt itself was unmolested and likely not run for many years (very low amplitude at full wind).

    I did not say the dial IS original, I said I am inclined to believe it is. Certainly, there is no evidence to indicate it definitively is not.

    This is all about opinion in the absence of definitive data and philosophical values in decision making.

    I find this discussion far more interesting than watch itself. It gets to how we as individuals analyze (my 1984 research dissertation was "Cognitive Responses to Persuasion")

    It is a broad assumption to state categorically that all pocket watches had their dials switched. In terms of the theory of science, such a statement is untestable and therefore is an article of faith.

    It is worth keeping in mind that much damage was done in the 80s (because of proclamations from experts), but it should not be used as the reason to switch dials. Just be honest and say "I prefer this dial" and be done with it.

    And just as the question was asked "why would a new watch buyer want a SS dial", no one has asked "why would a collector or dealer downgrade the dial on this watch". If broken, Montgomery dials are readily available today at around $75; certainly they were not all that expensive in the 80s.

    I was told definitively that Hamilton metal dials were "service" dials. Yet I found sales literature where Hamilton promoted those dials on new 992s to railroaders.

    I was told DS dials were used on all the high grade 96x series. Yet, I have a 963 with SS and movt signed for an individual. I was told SS are what goes on 974s and lower. Yet, I have a 974 with DS dial and movt signed.

    It is too easy to refute "rules of thumb" to see them as anything but cautionary advice to keep in mind.
     
  17. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,
    I went back over all the Hamilton "Timekeeper" Booklets from 1909 to 1930, and then all of the sales catalogs from that time period and found under the sales literature and descriptions, there was only an option in 1928 of "Your Choice of 4 different RR dials". Even the 992 grade only offered DS dials,but noted than a B.M. Numerical could be furnished at no extra cost.

    Your watch was made in 1913-14 time period and according to all of the Hamilton literature and advertising, it was only available with the Factory DS dial. The option to which you refer "Dial of your choice" was not used in any catalogs I checked up until 1930, so it was a much later sales slogan and was not offered until the later 1930's and beyond after the 950 was phased out.
     
  18. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    At this point, I'd say there are reasons to believe it may be original, and reasons to believe it may not be. To some extent, Dewey, the fact that it might or might not be original or authentic frees you to leave it or change it, as you prefer.

    I believe we're also straying into Heisenberg territory here: our act of observing - what we see in catalogs and 'in the wild' - changed the watches we observed - people put on the dials that were 'supposed to be'. ;)
     
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  19. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    I've heard (or read) stories that go something like ...

    "This watch has been in my family since great-grand uncle Edgar bought it in 1915 and nobody has ever messed with it."

    Well good old Edgar might have had a few too many one night in 1918 and bumped the corner of a table, smashing the crystal and the dial (and maybe mangling a hand or two). When he went to have it fixed, maybe the jeweler was out of double-sunk dials at the moment (hey - there's a war going on, ya know) and rather than wait, Edgar accepted the offered single-sunk dial.

    Now tell me, a hundred years later, who the h*ll in the family is going to know about it? Without documentation of how the watch shipped out from the factory, you just can't know!

    As to the question, "Who would want a single-sunk dial?" Maybe somebody who agreed with Ball's belief that single-sunk dials were more durable. Jezz, Ball actually put double-sunk dials on his cheapest ORRS watches - you know - the ones marked "Single Roller"!
     
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  20. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Kent,

    I agree there is only one definitive source of data for the answer. The "as sold" record.

    I also agree with Doug. This is Schoedinger's cat problem.

    As far as Hamilton's flexibility on dials; just look at all the private labels and Halligan's notes.

    The next guy can put on whatever is his/her preference. The dial switching of the past makes this less onerous than it would be otherwise. But my practice is, in the absence of definitive data, if the dial, hands and case are contemporary to the movt, then I keep it that way.

    Here is the question: suppose current fashion is followed and the dial is switched; then someone finds records in Gelson's or Zimmerla's files or in someone elses that show 950s were shipped with SS dials in request? Are we certain that we know everything that is ever going to be known?

    One thing I know from science is "Facts" change.

    So someone far more certain about what the facts are than me is going to have to change that dial. Or someone honest enough to say they simply prefer another dial.
     
  21. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    ^^^^^
    Saturday at 3:52 PM
    I'd personally need to place a double sunk marginal minute dial on that movement, even if in a skeleton case.....
    that's me.....

    and I like Kent's theoretical scenario regarding a potential mishap years and years ago....

    Uncle Joe fell down the steps leaving church after communion (the good stuff that Sunday)
    Watchmaker: All's I got is this material dial that is single sunk....
    Uncle Joe... put er ON......
    Watchmaker: OK
    Uncle Joe once sobered up......... what happened to my dial
    :) :)

    i do hope at some point we can find those detailed factory records, but i have my doubts.
     
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  22. 179

    179 Registered User
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    In post #1 a question is asked. My answer to the question would be, not very many.
     
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