Speedway Cronicles

Vintage Illinois Watch Discussion Forum
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Speedway Cronicles

#1 Post by Illinois281989 » Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:26 pm

Hello all,

I have been lurking on this site for quite some time and feel it is time to introduce myself. I find this forum more open and organized better than the NAWCC forum. Being a NAWCC member I guess I should frequent their forum often but feel it doesn't have a focus on specific watch brands like this site does. That aside, I am a young guy in the hobby, 27 years old to be exact. I feel that many my age don't appreciate or recognize the craftsmanship and quality these old time pieces have to offer. People my age always ask if there is a battery inside! An elderly gentleman who is a friend and mentor has guided me down the Illinois road since I was 18. He has been studying/collecting Illinois since 1986 and very knowledgeable about Illinois and the watch trade in general. It has been an honor to have known him thus far. He started me on Illinois and I have been slowly collecting and trying to learn as much as I can from him and others about the company since.

On to the topic!

I recently picked up an excellent condition Illinois speedway, a model I have been wanting to add to the collection for some time now. The seller shed some light on the watch after I purchased it. His father likely bought it brand new back in 1929 when he was 21 years old, having been born in 1908. The father owned his own dairy business which would have given him the monetary gains to have purchased this fine watch from the Illinois watch company back then. Does anybody know what the speedway retailed for when it was introduced on the market? Is there an original advertisement detailing this watch here on the forum?

From my understanding there are two variations of the Speedway in terms of case design. One being the bezel design pictured and the other with vertical bars. From what I hear, the design pictured is more desirable, could be personal opinion though.

Overall analysis of this watch would indicate little to no case wear. Very minor wear is present on one of the lugs. Genuine Illinois hands are present, missing the second hand though. The dial is interesting. While being a genuine Illinois dial, I have never seen this dial variation on a speedway before. I am aware of the radium dials that were and still are on many models and that the exploding radium dials are the most sought after now. I originally wanted to put an original exploding dial on this watch for restoration, but since learning the history behind this piece, I might leave this original dial on it as it's in excellent original condition.

I have a genuine replacement second hand but will need to start searching for a replacement crystal as the one on it currently is plastic, no good. On top of the minor cosmetics that are needed I will be restoring the movement with a partial disassembly, balance/train cleaning and lubricating with the help of my mentor.

I am wanting to document this cosmetic/mechanical restoration here on the forum from start to finish for any who are interested. The watch does not run, the mainspring is wound tight. The train is locked up as the escape wheel does not engage when the pallet fork moves as I give the watch a gentle rock. Tomorrow I will access the movement and we shall see what lies inside.

**If any one has any info on variations/movement numbers or examples of the speedway I would appreciate it. I still have a lot to learn about Illinois and am happy to have found fellow Illinois enthusiasts! I look forward to learning more about these beautiful watches!**

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"A Minute of Care is Worth an Hour of Repair" circa 1930.

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#2 Post by vintagehamiltons » Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:10 pm

Welcome to the forum.
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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#3 Post by stryfox » Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:40 pm

I love them all but I am not very informed on Illinois.
I do own one. Every collection needs at least one right?
I have found this forum to be the most helpful of all the watch forums I have encountered.
In my opinion members here are willing to help without being judgmental and think they have something to prove.
I'm sure you will find many members with the knowledge to assist you.
I also suggest going through and reading old posts. There is so much great information here.
My watches on instagram,

Watches serviced and ready to go at,

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#4 Post by jimglynn » Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:47 pm

Hi Jon!

Here are a couple links to check out in the forum:

http://www.vintagewatchforums.com/viewt ... way#p64641
http://www.vintagewatchforums.com/viewt ... way#p54715

This is in my opinion the top place for Illinois collectors.



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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#5 Post by veritas123 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:15 am

Welcome to the forum.

Very nice watch. You are starting your collection on the right foot.

As for the retail price. I found a 1930 Factory ad. that stated the " Speedway " sold for $42.50, with a 17 jewel movement in a white gold filled case and strap band.

As for the crystal. if you give me some measurements , I would be happy to look for one for you.

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#6 Post by GJH » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Welcome to the Forum...
Let the fun begin!!!

Congrats on a SUPER Speedway. There is SO much to learn when it comes to Illinois watches,
and just when you think you have discovered it all... BANG, you discover something new.

The first thing you should do is get Fred Friedberg's book on Illinois.
It is available and it has incredible information inside.

This forum has the greatest concentration of Illinois collectors anywhere,
so you are bound to have some fun here and learn a thing or 2.

My first question is... do you have a good watchmaker who knows this brand?
There are folks here who can recommend a good person.

The Speedway you have has an interesting dial that I have seen on very few examples.
Not sure if it is original or not, but it could be a Hamilton owned era replacement dial.
Don't get rid of it or have it redialed. It is cool for now.

There are several "Speedway" models with the Model 178 designation.


Some examples were given to drivers of the INDY 500 "Speedway"

The pattern like yours with the floral pattern is more common and the "Checkerboard"
seen a bit less. IMO.

This is the most common dial.


Keep that band OFF of it!!!
It is NOT original and will only harm the lugs by having metal rubbing against those beautiful engraved lugs.

Crystals are available on ebay.

A good watchmaker will have a very small hand at the 6 position "Seconds"

Again, welcome to the forum and enjoy the Illinois Journey.
Moderator Illinois Watch Forum
Still, Just living in Rick's world...

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#7 Post by Illinois281989 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 4:55 pm

Thank you all for welcoming me to the forum.

Jim: I was able to check out your links, excellent source for comparing various Illinois models and variations. Thank you!

Veritas123: Thank you for the encouragement and thank you for finding the original price! I will measure the bezel area and get back to you. Illinois had a number system for crystals, I do not have the book though.

GJH: Thank you for that wealth of knowledge regarding the speedway. From my understanding the floral pattern is the earlier design of the two? I heard the floral pattern is less seen due to this case styling being the first variation before the checkerboard? I have heard too that several of these watches were given to drivers of the Indianapolis 500. I checked out Fred's book a while back, very impressive, and I heard he is coming out with a new book soon. I will be buying it if possible! My mentor is a long time collector of Illinois and helping me with this restoration. As far as I know the dial is original. I will have more pictures of the dial soon! I will not be changing out the dial and will not be refinishing as it is a perfect example. Thanks for the dial variations and price tags included in the pictures, much appreciated. I have always heard metal bands can harm the lugs, I will keep it off for sure!

Thank you all,

"A Minute of Care is Worth an Hour of Repair" circa 1930.

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#8 Post by Illinois281989 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 5:46 pm

The restoration continues!

I was able to open up the watch case recently and found a few interesting discoveries, nothing too alarming yet! The watch is heavily corroded with dust and contaminants to the point it would seem this watch was put away when it quit working decades ago. I know the watch had been worked on at least once in the past, but don't know when. Removing the pristine condition bezel reveled a pristine aged Illinois dial. The material you see between the 4 and 5 position is dirt. I might try rolling Rodico over the dial after all the dust and dirt has been removed. I am thinking the yellowing is from nicotine, could be from age though. I have to be super carful to not hurt the dial either way. I have three second hands to choose from for replacements so we are good in that area. The crystal is plastic and needs to go, I will be sending off measurements to Veritas123 soon and hope to locate a genuine replacement soon. Upon further investigation looking at the fourth wheel pivot that holds the second hand, I noticed the pivot might be broken to some degree. Will need further investigation down the road on this issue.

The movement is a genuine Illinois 17 jewel single roller movement. Serial number dates the movement to the year 1930. If the Speedway came out in 1929, could this be a later variation? Perhaps the dial could further compliment this idea? How many years was the Speedway produced? I understand Hamilton took ownership of the company during this time period.

Currently the watch will not run. Although the balance and pallet fork are free, the train of the watch will not move under it's own power and the fourth wheel will not move at all when the impulse jewels move back and forth. We will perform a full cleaning and oiling of the watch later. Rust is present on the case screw above the serial number as well as one dial foot screw. Both case screws were extracted very carefully. Rust is also present on the stem key slot on the movement, stem, and stem sleeve. Not a good sign!

The case back shows this being a genuine model 178 case which would be correct for this model. Several repair numbers have been inscribed on the inside area of the case back as you can see in the last picture.

Next up, we will remove the watch hands, dial and balance cock for cleaning in the watch machine. The setting and winding section of the watch are completely inoperable and do not engage when manipulated. This area could pose a problem down the road, we shall see!

Thank you,

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"A Minute of Care is Worth an Hour of Repair" circa 1930.

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#9 Post by mrtoad » Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:13 pm

Great watch, worth taking some care!

I'd guess some moisture leaked in under the crown, resulting in some rust on the sleeve, which then got transferred to the movement around the winding area. I find these little sleeves on 3/0 movements, held in by the movement, are a lot more fussy than the screw-in sleeves on pocket watches. I hope you can soak that off. With moisture getting in, I'd worry about the mainspring rusting, then failing.

Good luck with the restoration!

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Re: Speedway Cronicles

#10 Post by Illinois281989 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:20 pm

Thank you mrtoad,

The moisture issue is a red flag after studying this section of the watch. I have secured a replacement stem and sleeve for this movement. Both originals are very rusty. I think I will use the same crown and believe this is the original crown to this watch but don't know for a fact. Can anybody tell me what the original crown looked like for this speedway case? Perhaps original literature would show this. I sadly do not have any.
Still gathering just a few more genuine Illinois parts for this watch restoration. Should be starting the mechanical restoration very soon!!

I have finished cleaning and polishing the case. Pictures to follow later tonight!

"A Minute of Care is Worth an Hour of Repair" circa 1930.

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