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On January 19th 1970 the Hamilton Watch Company Newsletter "Timely Topics" carried an interesting report. According to this news story the previous month, December of 1969 then Chairman of the Hamilton Board of Directors Arthur Sinkler helped assemble the last production Hamilton Railroad Grade Watch. As you'll see in the image below that story was titled "End of Era" but to my mind "Why Are These Men Smiling?" might have been a better title.
Arthur Sinkler and the "last" 992B...
Over the years nearly every published reference to "the last 992B" has involved number C525169 as being the last production 992B movement. By some accounts it was presented to Arthur Sinkler after being cased. We've heard that was in November but apparently it was not. We also explored a rumor that C525169 was at the National Watch and Clock Museum. It's not there and there is no record of it ever being in their inventory. So today the whereabouts of number C525169 remains a mystery.
Perhaps C525169 was not the "last" regular production 992B at all but merely a symbolic number. Maybe the three guys with the smiles went to lunch, came back to the factory for a ceremony commemorating the symbolic "last" 992B but then the workers finished a few more before running out of material later in the day. There is so much we may never know for sure.
However, thanks to the efforts of Chapter 185 Member Samie Smith, we know that at least one higher number does exist. Samie came across number C525258 and traced it back to the original purchase, you can see it in the image below. Whether or not the final production movements were finished in order and what the number of the last production 992B really is may never be determined for certain. But chasing down the facts is a big part of what makes this hobby fun, and so the saga continues.
C525258 is the highest numbered production 992B known...
|IHC Member 376|
Interesting article Lindell, it's hard to image they would be happy about the end of production for the last American Railroad Watch.
I watched a goverment film today from 1947 taken inside the Hamilton factory now on a CD format... I found it very interesting there was some info. on how they made the Elinvnar hairsprings, very interesting film!
I recently purchased an unfinished 992B top plate only that shows a serial number of C525884. This is no doubt old left over stock, but does indicate that their may be complete watches out there up to this serial number range. It's purly a novelty item for me.
Welcome to Chapter 185 Matthew!
You'll find a lot of friendly and helpful people here.
The unfinished C-prefix 992B pillar plates were being sold on eBay a year or two ago by a couple in upstate New York. These and other leftovers from the Hamilton facility were offered. I asked about the highest number they had and the answer was C526026 then it was mentioned that C526025 was also available. That made up my mind. Like you, I see these unfinished plates as the interesting curiosity they are.
The watch you see above C525258 remains as the highest numbered production 992B known at this time.
Recently, on page 4 of our "Hamilton 992B Projected Serial Numbers" topic there was mention of there being unfinished C-prefix pillar plates. At that point I commented... "Yep, the pillar plates are around. Recently, I bought two of them."
Oh, and look, they are consecutively numbered...
When we contemplate the shutting down of Hamilton production, for the 992B and other watches as well then this memo may be of interest...
Click to review: "Hamilton Production Shut-Down Memo" topic
For some reason, I can't seem to leave this subject, of authentic 992B's, built, after Hamilton closed production, on 4C pillar plates.
I OWN one of these watches, and it is to my financial advantage that it is genuine.
Still... there are nagging thoughts about it.
Yesterday, one of the "unfinished" 992B pillar plates was offered on eBay. I "won" it and ended up buying several more. I want to have the unfinished plates, in hand, to examine them and determine what state they are in.
If they are "finished" but merely unjeweled, I believe that they would raise a legitimate question as to why Hamilton would finish a "post-production" run with 4C pillars, when "C" pillars were available. As we know, jeweling a 992B was a comparitively simple procedure.
So the question MIGHT be why these plates were not the 1969-70 992B's that were produced.
I own two unused, still in the original boxes 4C prefix 992B watches as well as other, used ones, and like Peter I consider each of them to be very important and worthwhile pieces of Hamilton history.
My speculative belief in answer to Peter's question is the 4C prefix plates were used for the clean-up run in 1970 simply because they were already jeweled and ready to go. Remember, production had ended some months before, the tooling had been packed-away, since it was no longer available for use they could not readily finish those left-over plates, so we can deduce that it was easier for them to just assemble the 4C prefix 992B movements from previously finished leftover bits and pieces. That use of 4C pillar plates would also serve to distinguish them from the regular production 992B movements which I'm sure management would have considered worthwhile. Today, they also help with our sense of what was going on in those interesting times.
For more information read the **** footnote here...
CLICK FOR: "Projected Hamilton 992B Movement Numbers" posting.
"**** During 1970 the very last American Railroad Pocket Watch movements were assembled. Although guestimates run as high as several hunderd we may never be certain how many or how few of the "4C Prefix" Serial Numbered 992B examples were put together using material essentially left over from the last 4992B U.S. Government Contract. These "4C Prefix" 992B movements from that final "clean-up run" at Hamilton represent the last Great American Railroad Grade Pocket Watches. As such, they occupy a unique place in our hearts, minds and collections. "
Hope this helps,
|IHC Life Member |
You will find that if you're just a little clever you can build a functional 992B out of those plates you bought. You have to figure out the best way to put in a post for the minute wheel... that's about it. I don't think any of the other parts have serial numbers, they really didn't need them anymore, but I don't know. I've looked at four of these plates and they've all been almost the same. They all look like all the machining is done, down to having threads for screws, and are ready to start the next phase. The only discrepancy I've found is some still need one final cut for the keyless works.
I'm surprised one of these hasn't shown up, even as a joke. There's a lot of C526xxx plates floating around out there and it would not be hard to jin up a watch.
Frank "407" Kusumoto
I agree and so......
I'd like to find (or discover) the lowest Serial Number that exists for these unfinished plates. Although there might be exceptions, I think that such a plate might establish, from one end, the last 992B ever produced. Once that plate was found and its Serial Number published, the Horological community would have some protection against subsequent fakes.
|IHC Life Member |
Well Peter, what are your numbers?
A production piece, known to be real and documented by Samie Smith is number C525258.
Number C525884 is mentioned above as a "plate" so there's the top and bottom limits as of now.
I haven't received the plates yet but I asked for the lowest numbers.
They did give me a couple of sample numbers and the lowest was C525428. That's getting pretty close to the "Samie Smith" 992B. They also told me that they THINK they once had lower numbers but they are not certain what they were.
Whether I do it or someone else does it.... I think the important thing to do is to PUBLISH the lowest plate that we know about. Then.... if later numbers start showing up, we will have good evidence that they may be fake.
In the best of all possible worlds, we'd have a finished, documented example and an unfinished plate the next SN away. That would be some very conclusive evidence of the "last American-made" RR pocket-watch.
Since the movements were not assembled in numerical order, the highest serial number may not necessarily be the last one "made".
Agreed.... that's why I referred to it as "evidence" rather than proof.
In law, it would be what we call a "rebuttable" presumption.
IF we had a group of unfinished plates and a finished watch, with later numbers showed up, it still COULD be genuine but..... I think there would be a heavy onus to prove its authenticity.
|IHC Life Member |
That guy you bought the plates from has been selling them for at least a few years that I've seen. I know more than a few people (more than I can remember) who have bought these plates as novelties. I "think" a high number plate has already been used to make a running watch. Just a hunch. But good on you for pointing this out and trying to narrow the number range down.
Isn't the serial number located elsewhere on the movement?
Not on the 992B. Hamilton intended that model to be entirely interchangeable and purposely put a number ONLY on the pillar plate.
Peter is correct.
Some 992B and 4992B examples will also have the movement number hand-scratched on the balance wheel, but that is not a reliable indicator as it is all too easy to add the number to an existing wheel.
As Robert Sweet very correctly pointed out movements were not always finished in chronological order, but it will be very interesting to see if any other production watches around C525258 surface. So far no production example with a number above the C525258 high number benchmark which was established fully two years ago has appeared. And of course we'll also be looking for unfinished plates between the production number C525258 and Matthew's unfinished C525884 to possibly narrow the focus just a little bit further.
I really love this hobby!
|IHC Life Member |
Peter and Lindell already answered the question just as I would have. Just one piece with a Serial Number, the mainplate. I took out my highest numbered 992B, numbered 500034, to check. Just one number.
|IHC Member 376|
I am sure that C525258 is correct and it was bought new locally here in Kentucky.
Thanks to all.
Hope you didn't disassemble to check!
Disassembling a 992B is an honor and a pleasure.
As a watchmaker (well, student to a watchmaker), I can tell you that the 992B and the 950B are probably the most precise pocket watches ever made. They are a pleasure to assemble!
|IHC Life Member |
Robert, just like Peter said it's like "Butter". I have to admit that I disassembled 500034 to see what was on a "finished" plate and how it compared to a 526xxx plate that I own and just briefly considered heresy. He He . Taking apart and putting together a late model 992B is a pleasure. It's like it all drops in together, like the watch is putting itself together!
Anyways, I was surprised that only the mainplate had a number. Okay guys, start finding those numbers in between C525258 and plate C525884.
Well well well, it just gets better and better and better!
Chapter 185 Member Sham Agayev has discovered number C525298 which is exactly 40 numbers above the previously known highest number and it may be legitimate. For the record movement number C525298 is in Model 17 case number P528780 and the mysterious red coded "N-9" stamp is there as well.
Here is additional research and information...
HAMILTON 992B MOVEMENT NUMBERS
Sham Agayev's C525298 could be a new high number...
This is my 992B numbered C505200
Thanks Joe, looks like a nice example from 1966 production.
I have a 1966 Hamilton 992B I bought from the original owner a few weeks ago. Serial number: C506848 it is in a number 17 gold filled case numbered P885959. It appears to be in amazing condition, according to the markings on the inside of the back cover, its last service was in 1978.
These late watches really do help tell the story Bud, thank you.
It's my pleasure Lin. I only wish I could contribute even a freaction of what I have received but I fear that will never be the case.
I've learned more about pocket watches this past year on IHC185 than I could possibly have ever learned on my own and I am very thankful for that.
Thanks to all of you who have helped me this past year. It is so appreciated.
|IHC Life Member|
I know this in an ancient thread, but I saw a post above that asked for some "proof" that the 4C 992B's were "legitimate". I can attest that I have a 4C 992B that was purchased (retail, probably in Newark, NJ) in the first half of 1970. It is now engraved with my initials and the date: June 1, 1970 - when I graduated from college. It has been in my possession since then, and was in my pocket nearly every day for more than 40 years.
For me, that's the best evidence there is. For you...well, I suppose you have to trust me, eh?
|IHC Member 1357|
Just got this 992B S/n C522103=1969. Thought I would post it as it is a 1969 production watch.In a Model 17 case P297752 with the red stamp on it. There are no service marks at all.I doubt this watch was carried much. The Dial only has a little bezel rub and no cracks at all!The black hands look new.I bought it not running and no crystal. I believe it has a broken bal.staff.There is a dent on bottom of case as if it were dropped therefore a broken staff and crystal.I think it was then put in the sock drawer.There is a inscription on back J.C.Moore
50 Years Service L&N R.R.Co. 1919-1969
|IHC Member 1357|
Dent on bottom
|IHC Member 1357|
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