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Hamilton 36 Size Information Sheet "Click" to Login or Register 
IHC Life Member

Picture of Fred R. Hougham
From My Fathers Military Records:


Fred C. Hougham and Bill Schroeder

The origin and history of the Hamilton 36 size movement is somewhat of an enigma.
Only 970 were made. Although some is knovn about this great watch, much is not. For
example, this is the only known Hamilton watch without a factory number designation. It is just
the "36 size ". In addition, there is no known material list or service instructions for the watch,
much less the up-down mechanism. The watch runs for 70-72 hours when folly wound and yet
the up-down mechanism only registers 56 hours. The winding indicator hand continues to
function past the 56 hour mark until the watch runs down. Measurements of a representative
group of parts show that the factory did not use parts from another Hamilton in this watch. This
was a new watch from the "plates up". Serial numbers ran consecutively from 1,260,001 to
1,260,970. The watches were finished over a period of years from 1918 until about 1945.
The movement is described as follows:
Pin setting, pendant winding watches or key wind-key set. Twenty-One ruby and
sapphire Gold jewel settings. Double roller escapement. Steel escape wheel. Exposed sapphire
pallet stones. Pallet arbor cone pivoted and cap.jeweled. Escape pinion cone pivoted and cap

jeweled. Compensating balance, pivots running on rubies. Breguet hairspring. Micro metric or
plain regulator. Adjusted to temperature, isochronism, five positions. Safety barrel with spring
box rigidly mounted on bridge. Exposed winding wheels. Patent recoiling click and self locking
setting device. Silvered double sunk dial with painted figures and numerals. Plates beautifully
damascened and finely finished.
It is not known if the Navy or War Shipping Board provided the specifications for this
particular watch although it is known that about 1900 the Navy revised the specifications for deck

watches/torpedo boat watches in general and allowed a 15 second per month time variance. At
the same time they changed the nomenclature for pocket chronometers/deck watches to torpedo
boat watches. Detailed specifications for these may be found in Marvin Whitney's book Military
Timepieces on page 382. The "36 size" watch was made in two styles, a Ship's Watch which was
key wind/key set swung on gimbals mounted in a mahogany box and a Patrol Boat Watch which
was stem wind/pin set in a plain open face sterling silver 36 size ease.

The first 200 of these were Ship's Watches 'and were to be billed to the United States
War Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation, Washington, D.C. The requisition for 200
watches was given to Hamilton July 10,1917 by the War Shipping Board. The watches were
delivered by messenger to the Bureau of Standards in Washington for testing. They were tested
there and payment was approved as follows: June 29,1918 - 66 watches; August 12,1918 - 68
watches; February 26, 1919 - 66 watches; for the total of 200 watches. The watches were
billed at $67.00 each and on February 26,1919 at which time billing was completed, an additional
bill for $1,429.85 was rendered covering a premium which was allowed for "extra performance"
as per the requisition contract. "60" was the mean standard for performance and 157 watches
averaged 7 points higher than "60"and thus were rated premium. 47 watches averaged 3 points
less than "60". It is not known what criteria was used to score the watches performance. The
ship's watch description on the billing invoice read as follows:

“36s - 21 J High grade watches complete and in accordance with the fall specifications for
Ship's Watches of June 19,1917 - - - - -$67.00 Net.
On August 29, 1923 a letter was received by Hamilton asking them to place a return value
on a number of watches that were being held as surplus by the Shipping Board Emergency Fleet
Corporation. Hamilton replied that "because orders had been canceled by the government, a
number of these watches are in our stock and we do not feel that we can add to that stock."
Patrol Boat Watches were to be billed to the Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C. as

36 s Patrol Boat Watches fitted in Silver cases.
There were two orders -
Schedule - Requisition 158/18 - Charged at $56.50
Requisition 123 - Bureau N.S.A. - Charged at $56.00
These watches were delivered by messenger to the Bureau of Standards to be tested there. Those
that did not pass the tests were returned to the factory for further adjustments. Bills were

rendered as the watches were accepted. The bills listed below cover the larger items of sales
traced from the factory sales records. The total - 259 - were traced as follows:
1918 Oct. 2, 80-Requisition #123
Nov. 23, 9- " #123
Nov. 23, 39-' " #158/18
1920 July 15, 47- " #158/18
Oct. 9, 46- " #158/18
1921 Aug. 3, 38 " #158/18
After the war ended, a part of one government order was canceled but details are not available.
Posts: 324 | Location: Daytona Beach, Florida USA | Registered: November 29, 2002
Life Achievement
Military Expert
Picture of Greg Crockett

Thank you for the excellent information regarding these interesting timepeices. Your 300th post!

Best regads,

Posts: 1896 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
IHC Life Member

Picture of Fred R. Hougham
Thanks Greg,
Wow, 300 posts--I didn't realize I was that chatty. I have another set of information sheets on the 36 size but because of the poor quality my scanner would only pick up part of the information. As soon as I get some time I'll finish typing out the info and post it.
Posts: 324 | Location: Daytona Beach, Florida USA | Registered: November 29, 2002
IHC Life Member
Site Moderator
Picture of John J. Flahive III
Thanks for posting the information on the Hamilton Size 36 chronometers. I have two in my collection (S/N 1260102 and 1260063 both with steriling silver cases) and have always wondered about their history.

Since they were cased instead of gimbaled, these must have been Patrol Boat Watches. Is there any way to determine which boat they sailed on?


John III
Posts: 1755 | Location: Colorado in the USA | Registered: October 17, 2005
IHC Life Member

Picture of Fred R. Hougham
Welcome John,
NOt that I'm aware of. This would include all military timepieces. The question has come up before, especially about model 21 & 22 Hamiltons.
A given timepiece, could in fact have served on several different ships, because when it was sent in to be serviced it would not necessarily be returned to the same ship.
Posts: 324 | Location: Daytona Beach, Florida USA | Registered: November 29, 2002
Picture of Tom McIntyre
I have a question about these watches.

I bought silver cased one some years ago and eventually found a set of boxes for it. I have it up on my web site at http://www.awco.org/Chronometers/Ham36/index.htm

This past weekend I purchased the gimbal model at the J&H sale. I am certain from examining it that it is completely original both box and timepiece. However, it is fitted with a plain dial with no up/down indication. The nickel gimbals and the nickel seal bar on the box are there as well as the little Hamilton logo. I will have pictures up in a day or two. It's serial number is 1260711 so I am guessing it is a civilian piece also.

Is there any information available on the ones that do not have the up/down on the dial? Also, what does the key for the gimballed watch look like? It needs a small chronometer key on one end and presumably a #3 pocket watch key on the other end.
Posts: 633 | Location: Boston, Massachusetts USA | Registered: November 25, 2002
Life Achievement
Military Expert
Picture of Greg Crockett
Thank you for the link to your chrono pics. The silver case model is hard to find and a great treasure.

Unfortunatley, I have little to add regarding your civilian model. Maybe Whitney has images of your clock in his Chronomiter book?

With any luck someone can post a picture of the correct key and provide some information regarding these fine time pieces.

Best regards,

Posts: 1896 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
IHC Life Member

Picture of Fred R. Hougham
Tom & Greg,
The 36 size was made both with and without the winding indicator. I will try to get you some more information, including pictures of the key, but it will be a couple of weeks ( its much needed vacation time)
Posts: 324 | Location: Daytona Beach, Florida USA | Registered: November 29, 2002
IHC Life Member

Picture of Fred R. Hougham
Please find enclosed a copy of a letter written in 1994 by the late Marvin Whitney to a Mr. Warren Niebling. This should answer some of your questions. If I can ever find the time to finish the second part of the info on the 36 size it contains some pictures of the under dial gearing, relating to the set up for the winding indicator.

P.S. Forgive the errors, sometimes the scan picks up things that arent there.


3700 Harrison Avenue Cincinnati. Ohio 46211 (513)661-3838
Mailing address: P.O. Box 11011. Cincinnati. Ohio 45211
Warren H.. Niebling
303 Suffolk. Rd
.Flourtown Pa. 19031-5119

Dear Mr. Niebling;
I appreciate your kind remarks regarding the H. T, articles.
The tvd watches described were "built, specifically for the Navy during
W. W. I and were: known as their 36.size torpedo boat watches. Production was started in 19l6 with a production run of 966 instruments, 'being assigned movement numbers falling between l,260,001 and 1,260,970.
Specifications stated that the torpedo boat watch shall be made to nm for not less than 56 hours, and on the dial an -up-and-down indicator shall be provided to show the state of winding. The watch shall be stem wound and pin set, and fitted in an open face silver case. The majority of these watches were fitted to this style case. However, some were- fitted to a weighted chrome bowl, swung in gimbals and mounted in a 3-tier chronometer style box. The silver cases were; made by the Crescent Watch Casa Co,Newark. N. J.
Both the non-gimbal and gimbaled type were fitted with a winding indicator as noted in the specifications when they were delivered to the Naval
Observatory. I have never seen one that was housed in a silver case with-out a winding indicator. However, with the mounted its been a different story. At one time I had three gimbaled pieces in my collection. One had the complete winding indicator mechanism, while the other two some parts were missing from the W. I. mechanism and the holes-were plugged. On one, the winding indicator numerals remained on the dial; on the other, the dial had been refinished and the only way you could tell is v/as plugged was to look at the underside.

Daring my tenure at the Naval observatory in the early 40's, a few of these watches were still in service and from time to time were returned for an overhaul, However, we only had a limited number of replacement parts and most of those v/ere parts that seldom needed to be replaced, The winding mechanism was completed and consisted of eight thin steel wheels, two sets of friction springs, and a pivoted spring loaded arm which engaged and dis-engaged the mechanism. On those that came in for an overhaul that had missing/broken parts, the dial was plugged and refinished. You mentioned that
the plug in your piece was rounded slightly. That job was not done at the Observatory for all of ours were finished
flush with the dial.
I know of no material list or parts numbers for this Jo's T.B.W. movement.
The Observatory's parts department did not have any-such information,
If I may be of any further help, please, feel free to contact me.
Sincerely yours

Marvin E. Whitney

Posts: 324 | Location: Daytona Beach, Florida USA | Registered: November 29, 2002
Picture of Tom McIntyre
Thanks Fred,

I will pull the dial and see if it has been plugged.

By the way, the description of the wind indicator sounds like DeLong's indicator. I will take a closer look at it too.
Posts: 633 | Location: Boston, Massachusetts USA | Registered: November 25, 2002
I realize this is a very old post - but - can anyone tell me if the motor barrel on the 36s is/was the jeweled version? Thanks!
Posts: 10 | Location: Southern California in the USA | Registered: March 29, 2015
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