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Hamilton Model 21 Local Service "Click" to Login or Register 
I have a Hamilton Model 21, which I very much treasure. It's keeping essentially perfect and regular time, but there's no sign, internal or external, that it's been serviced since a 1968 sticker from Geo. Butler in San Francisco.

So, I would like to get it serviced, on the theory that a bit of maintenance may avoid a costly repair.

But I'd rather not send it off into the ether; I'd like to hand-deliver it to a local, competent chronometer repairer.

Any suggestions on how I might find such a person?


Posts: 18 | Location: Redmond, Washington in the USA | Registered: March 03, 2009
IHC Life Member
Call "Captain's" in Ballard. They handle most of the navigational instruments in the area.

Posts: 218 | Location: Oak Harbor, Washington in the USA | Registered: May 21, 2009
IHC Life Member
Picture of Ethan Lipsig
I had our fellow member Chris Abell service the Hamilton 21 I purchased from another member who auctioned it off on this site. Since Chris is in Texas, you would need to mail the movement to him. My movement survived posting without any issues.

Do you have the special aluminum shipping canister for shipping just the movement? Does your Hamilton 21 have the built-in balance wheel "corking" device, or do you know how to cork the balance. If you have the canister and can cork the balance, you should try to avoid shipping. If you don't have the canister, I would consider lending you mine for the time it takes to get your Hamilton 21 overhauled.

Chris, did a great job, by the way.
Posts: 1414 | Location: Pasadena, California USA | Registered: November 11, 2005
I can cork the balance, and my clock has the built-in mechanism for stopping the balance wheel, anyway.

I don't have a shipping container, but I don't have concerns for the safety of the clock; it's easy enough to pack it so it can take punishment.

It's the cost of shipping both ways, combined with the lack of personal connection, that bothers me a bit.
Posts: 18 | Location: Redmond, Washington in the USA | Registered: March 03, 2009
IHC Life Member
Sergeant at Arms
Picture of Scott A. Whittey
Aloha Mark
No worries with Chris,I send him all my instruments. I just cant get him to remember to take pictures for me Smile

Aloha Scott
Posts: 293 | Location: California City, California USA | Registered: May 05, 2005
Interesting. Chris had previously told me that he doesn't work on watches as large as a Model 21. I'll see if he's changed that practice now, and how much he would charge for it.

In the meantime, is there any reason why I shouldn't just oil the pivots? There is absolutely no sign of rust or dirt, so I'm not sure that cleaning it is of any real use (other than the mainspring). It seems to me that oiling it would at least make it so that damage from running it would be largely eliminated.
Posts: 18 | Location: Redmond, Washington in the USA | Registered: March 03, 2009
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell

My automatic equipment is set up to take up to Hamilton model 36 WI
I carried out a service on Ethan’s model 21 as a special favor, as it all had to be either hand cleaned or in small sub assembly’s, additional supplies bought for this one task, once completed it timed out exceptionally well also believe after shipping.
I have done a few of these for myself in the past don’t want to really take them on as such as you can imagine they take a considerable amount of time to do correctly. I would not recommend simply oiling the pivots on any watch you need to remove all traces of old oil grease first, you may well cause more harm than good and turn old oil and contaminates into grinding paste. Also on the model 21 you would need to do a good amount of disassembly to lube certain areas and without knowledge you can very easily cause serious and very expensive damage to the detent and escapement. Sorry to sound a little negative on this having done a few, I don’t want to start servicing these regularly without fully setting up, make sure you find someone with track record of working on these, not someone willing to learn on yours.
Thanks Ethan & Scott, for the recommendation & will try and get the camera out a bit more often.
Posts: 2625 | Location: Northeast Texas in the USA | Registered: November 20, 2003
Chris's point about not 'just adding a few drops of oil' is a very important one. I would also like to add to never give an old timepiece to one of those jewelry stores that advertise watch cleaning for $25 or so because all they do is dunk the whole movement in a sonic bath for a few minutes which does not do the job. And if you do not know the last time a movement was serviced, or if it was more than 5 to 8 years ago, you really should not be running the watch or clock. Lubricant picks up microscopic motes of dust over time and it thickens as it dries out. The result is it turns into abrasive paste over time and as you run your antique watch or clock it starts to grind away on the finely machined parts. Old lubricant with its embedded dirt particles is not something you can easily see with the naked eye unless it is a major basket case. You just need to know that it is inevitable and will be there after a few years whether you can easily see it or not.

I think running antique watches and clocks is part of the fun of collecting them, but to keep them from being damaged from it you either need to learn how to take them apart and clean each piece properly, or you need to bite the bullet and find yourself a trained and skilled watchmaker who knows how to do it right and be willing to pay a fair wage for the many hours it takes in applying their expertise to the job including the cost of owning and maintaining a complete set of proper tools to do the work.

If for whatever reason you are not able to keep these old timepieces properly serviced then the best thing to do is enjoy them in your collection without running them. That is what I do with most of the military timepieces in my collection, while a few that I keep running I keep well maintained.
Posts: 869 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
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