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Hamilton Numbers puzzle "Click" to Login or Register 
IHC Life Member
I just got a 1930s Hamilton cut-corner square, with back numbered 418921 - but both bezel and center body are numbered 8930.

Now totally unrelated numbers usually denote an assembly of parts, but this close ? Would Hamilton or their case makers make such a mistake ?

Posts: 423 | Location: West Walton, United Kingdom | Registered: November 16, 2005
Hamilton WW Expert

Picture of Gary Cole

I thought I read somewhere that they would clean or re-clean watch parts after going thru certain steps in the assembly process.

My guess is that this is legit and at the factory the wrong parts were put together by mistake. Afterall, Hamilton was a great company, but not perfect Smile

Personally, I would feel comfortable with the watch in this configuration

Please post a picture of the watch. I love the Hamilton squares and would like to add a enamel version at some point

Posts: 61 | Location: Sarasota, Florida U.S.A. | Registered: May 30, 2004
Wristwatch Expert
IHC Life Member
Picture of William J. Hansen, Ph.D.

I too love the Enameled squares. This one is especially curious in that it is solid gold, and has the second at 9:00. It is similar to the example on Rene Rondeau's book, Hamilton Wristwatches, A Collector's Guide, except that Rene's example is gold filled.

According to Will Roseman, this is a rather rare watch in solid gold, and extremely rare with this dial configuration.

I suspect Dan's watch had the case back switched in the factory during production. It is really, really close.


Bill Hansen
IHC# 198
Life Member# 17

Posts: 813 | Location: Cincinnati, Ohio USA | Registered: January 22, 2003
Gary is correct,seven away is still close enough together that the case parts were probably
on the same assembly tray and simply got mixed up in trays compartments as it made its way
through any number of departments. I have heard of such numbering discrepencies before
and always minor like yours. Now if the numbers were off by many dozens or hundreds then I would assume that someone had made one good case out of several worn ones.
Posts: 110 | Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana U.S.of A. | Registered: April 29, 2006
IHC Life Member
Below is the watch the subject of this forum ---

Another oddity is that the center section is of a warmer color of wgf than is the back and bezel.


Posts: 423 | Location: West Walton, United Kingdom | Registered: November 16, 2005
Hamilton WW Expert
IHC Life Member

Your watch is correct.

When Hamilton received the cases from the case manufacturer (in your case, it was Fahys as they made the case for the Hamilton Square Plain and Engraved), the cases were placed in a bath to clean the oil residue from the stamping machines that Fahys used to stamp and form the case.

At Hamilton, there were three baths - the first was a "wash," the second was a rinse, and the third was a final cleaning (or secondary rinse). I understand that some baths held twenty-five cases at a time and there was one bath that held fifty cases. Employees at Hamilton would separate the cases and place them in the bath for cleaning. The cleaning machine vibrated to aid in the cleaning process and often case parts became mixed up. As you know, the back case is serial numbered as is the center case which usually has the last four or three numbers from the full serial number. The bezels however were not stamped with the serial number; the numbers that we collectors find under the bezel was hand etched in Roman Numerals by Hamilton employees. This was done so that they could match the mated bezel to its center and back case once the cases were removed for reassembly. Hamilton used Roman Numerals because they were easier to etch as Roman Numerals are mostly straight lines and there was less chance for a mishap.

It is not usual for the numbers to be slightly off and in my opinion (for what it's worth) numbers that are slightly off have no effect on the value. If the case numbers are way off (several hundred), the watch is likely pieced together. In any case (pun inteded), matching numbers are typically the domain of purists as most people who buy vintage watches buy them for their look and since no one ever sees the serial numbers, it certainly doesn't effect the look and stature of the piece. It is likely only we watch nuts that care about such things.


Posts: 80 | Location: Carlstadt, New Jersey U.S.A. | Registered: January 23, 2005
IHC Life Member
Thanks Will for those details.

See my photo above - I have been experimenting with replacing missing black enamel from engraved cases.
Anyone with suggestions on best practice, please contact me.

Posts: 423 | Location: West Walton, United Kingdom | Registered: November 16, 2005
Jewelers use engravers wax to fill such things as cut letters and designs but on a wristwatch I think they would have used black lacquer assuming it was not Cloisonne of course. What's called lacquer today is not real lacquer so I would try the next nearest thing which would be GM black touchup from Autozone. Paint it on, swipe some off the highpoints and then let it dry and maybe then a little compounding and or a fingernail to get the rest off the high points. If that's a plastic crystal I might remove it or at least try a dot of paint from a toothpick tip make sure the paint does not melt or damage it and act accordingly .
Posts: 110 | Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana U.S.of A. | Registered: April 29, 2006
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