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Is it Real or is it Melamine? "Click" to Login or Register 
IHC Life Member
Picture of Tom Allerding

I have a 992B with a S/N C467xxx (circa 1957). I'm new to this, and would appreciate some opinions on the dial and hands. (I can't post images, so you'll have to do with prose.)

The dial has arabic numerals (not the boxcar type) and Montgomery figures (in black, with every 5 mins in red). The sub-seconds bit covers over half of the 5 and 7. It is double sunk, but the edges between the plates curve into each other without a sharp step. There is also a faint line of gold coloration along the rim of the sub-seconds dial. The dial is marked Hamilton Railway Special.

The hour and minute hands are spade shaped and black. The seconds hand is the same shape, but is dark blue when viewed from the side.

The dial, case (10 K RGP with Hamilton markings) and movement are all in very nice shape.

At first, I thought the dial might be a reproduction (especially since the seconds hand is a different color). After reading some posts on this site, I now wonder if it's melamine.

Is the dial appropriate for this watch? If hands have been replaced, which ones? Thanks in advance for your help.

Posts: 139 | Location: Spokane, Washington USA | Registered: August 16, 2005
Hello and Welcome.....

Do you have the capability to take a digital image?

Do you have the capability to remove the dial?

the 'gold circle' you mention throws me...

it is 'possible' your second hand is a replacement...

have you checked out some of the threads about the repro dials?

try this one...


let us know what u see....

also other threads from the 'find' feature

Posts: 1496 | Registered: November 20, 2002
Picture of Matthew E. Sutton
Gosh, without images, a description and accurate analysis are very unlikely. For general information, the 992B melamine dial was standard for a 1957 watch. No question about it.
Posts: 495 | Location: Kailua, Hawaii in the USA | Registered: March 14, 2005
IHC Life Member
Picture of Tom Allerding
Thanks for your replies. In the link you provided, there is an image of a repro dial from LaRose that is nearly a perfect match to mine. The only difference it the subtle gold coloration around the sub-seconds dial. The smooth (as opposed to sharp) edge between the sinks of the dial are telling. I don't have the ability to remove the dial, but will work on some digital images to take better advantage of this site.

If I did decide to look for a "true" dial for this piece, what would be appropriate for this time period?
Posts: 139 | Location: Spokane, Washington USA | Registered: August 16, 2005
IHC President
Life Member
Picture of Lindell V. Riddle


It's great to have you with us.

First to the... faint line of gold coloration along the rim of the sub-seconds... that is likely a layer of dirty discoloration that has built up over the years. A melamine dial is correct for your watch, the one you have might be entirely correct.

Secondly, there is another link I'd ask you to follow and carefully examine...


The fact your dial has the partial 7 and 5 hour markers along with the marginal minutes it is either an original melamine or one of the S. LaRose type replacement dials. As you found in that linked information there is a difference. Examine it very, very carefully and compare the outer-track numerals to the images and what you read in the linked topic you'll be able to determine which you have. To simplify matters I have merged the two images and posted that below for comparison.

Dial on top is melamine, lower one LaRose replacement...

Posts: 10553 | Location: Northeastern Ohio in the USA | Registered: November 19, 2002
Welcome to 185 Tom - hope you have fun here. Smile


Thanks for your continued patience on this recurring subject.

I've been reading the other posts & links on the reproduction dials and have learned so much. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and for posting such great photos. Smile


Posts: 315 | Location: Los Angeles, California USA | Registered: April 07, 2005
IHC Life Member
Picture of Tom Allerding

I second the comments above. You've made me an overnight expert! Based on the location of the red numerals, the curve of the 7 minute numeral, and the overall brightness of the dial, I have to conclude that I have the LaRose reproduction.

You were also correct that the gold rim around the sub-seconds dial is wear. A close look under a couple of magnifiers shows that the white surface of the dial is partially worn away, showing darker material beneath.

I suppose my next decision is whether to stick with the very nice repro or look around for an authentic (but possibly less attractive) melamine dial. Either way, I very much appreciate your help. I look forward to learning more.

Posts: 139 | Location: Spokane, Washington USA | Registered: August 16, 2005
Welcome Tom!

I've been told and have read many times that if you want to carry your watch you would be wise to face it with a repro dial. So you're in good shape already. Smile

The melamine dials that were authentic to your watch, and even a porcelain replacement, would be better used sitting in storage waiting for the day when you stop carrying your prized possession. They are just too valuable (and fragile at their age), to expose them to the everyday rigors of daily carry. And they get harder and harder to find in good condition with each day that passes.

I have a repro dial on the way for just that purpose myself. When it arrives I'll put away the melamine dial currently on the 992B that I carry, and keep it safe.

Best Regards,

Posts: 348 | Location: Northwest Washington USA | Registered: June 23, 2005
What's the cost of those repro dials?

Lin will tell you that I have no great love for Melamine.... whether it is "proper" or not. I just can't stand to even look at one of those dials when they start cracking.

And.... I even surprised Lin by showing him yet another abominable failure of Melamine. This time, it was a dial where the entire center-sunk area had cracked, along the circle. It had even begun to peel-away and I had to "arrest" that process with a dab of super-clue that I slipped under it. Lin would NOT believe it, until I sent him a photo.

I wouldn't mind using a nice repo dial on some of my "collection" watches just because the older ones make me ill! Frown
Posts: 986 | Location: Flagstaff, Arizona USA | Registered: June 19, 2005
IHC Life Member
Picture of Tom Allerding
Hi Everyone,

Yesterday, I reeceived a very nice call from Lin, welcoming me to 185. He also encouraged me to keep looking at my poor dial, and I now take back my crack about being an "instant expert" - this is harder than I thought!

Anyhow, in looking at all of Lin's images of the Melamine and LaRose dials, I now see subtle differences in nearly every minute numeral. In addition to the hook on 7, there are noticible differences in the upper portions of 2 and 9, and the lower portons of 3 and 6. Also, the "O" in HAMILTON is oval on the Melamine dial and more rounded on the LaRose. It's all pretty arcane stuff, but it now appears that I do have a Melamine dial that is presumably original.

This is great news for me since it's a nice looking dial without the cracks and divots mentioned in the post above. Given Tref's comments, I'll treat it with respect!

Thanks to all of you for your help. Next time, I'll try to replace a thousand words with a couple of good pictures!

Posts: 139 | Location: Spokane, Washington USA | Registered: August 16, 2005
welcome again tom.....


S. LaRose usually has those.... 40 to 50 bux... but u do have to be aware they are thicker, and on some i have seen bezel interference and trouble with hand clearances... you could also consider an 'improper' early porcealin dial...

One day that Melamine dial might look like this:

Posts: 1496 | Registered: November 20, 2002
Gosh! You don't often see them without hairlines! Big Grin Big Grin
Posts: 986 | Location: Flagstaff, Arizona USA | Registered: June 19, 2005
But you can see where they were Big Grin
Posts: 1496 | Registered: November 20, 2002
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