Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vintage Hamilton Boulton

This watch was one my dad bought a number of years ago, probably at an antique store or on eBay. The markings on the inside of the case indicate it was serviced in 1999 (watchmakers typically inscribe their initials and date when they service watches) but I'm not sure if it was before or after he bought it. At the moment it seems to run fairly well, but it does stop occasionally, which might be a result of me wearing it very little, or might just mean it's time to be serviced again. It's in good condition with a clean dial and relatively little wear on the 14k gold filled case, but I know it's one of a handful of watches that my dad wore frequently for a few years. Wearing vintage watches is something that takes getting used to. Unlike modern watches, most vintage watches are not even slightly water resistant, so being careful when washing your hands or even on a hot summer day where you might be sweating is important. Fortunately, if the case hasn't been opened for many years, it will sometimes seal itself shut with dirt and corrosion. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but can make opening it for service a chore, and if the case is given a good cleaning during that service, that small measure of dirt and moisture resistance will be lost, making the watch more prone to water intrusion in the future. Also, vintage watches can be very small. This one, at 22mm wide and 32mm long, is not terribly tiny, but considering I frequently wear watches twice as wide, it does have a very different feel than what I'm used to. This particular watch is from the late '40s/early '50s based on the serial number J458905 on the movement. The Boulton seems like it was quite a popular model and you see vintage ones quite frequently today, not to mention the reissue in both regular and large sizes. Alas, the modern versions are only available with quartz movements, not with anything resembling the classic Hamilton 982 mechanical movement in the original. Also, I don't believe the modern versions have the unique thick domed acrylic crystal of the original (nor do many of the vintage Boultons that have had their crystals replaced.) I suppose at some point I'll have to work out a rotation where all my watches get some wrist time. There's no reason I can't wear a vintage watch, a digital watch, an analog quartz watch and a more typical (for me, at least) automatic watch during the course of a week. I'll have to see what I can dig up for tomrrow.


Thomas Tricarico said...

I have the same watch. It was my grandfathers, and he always wore that watch for as log as I can remember which is over 50+ years..
I love it, its looks and style. I only wear it occassionally, but still enjoy it. Its showing its age tho I have maintained it when needed.
Just thought Id reply..

Jim Gould said...

My brother and I have just inherited the same Hamilton watch with an Alligator-looking leather band seemingly made in W. Germany. I assume the watch was made in the forties, and definitely has the classic raised crown. It's a small watch and it no longer runs, but hey it was my great uncle's, so we're glad to have it passed down. There's certainly a lot of history with Hamilton, and ironically it's my middle name.