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 Post subject: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:26 pm 
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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!**

Jon


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"A Minute of Care is Worth an Hour of Repair" circa 1930.
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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:10 pm 
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Location: Waukesha, WI
Welcome to the forum.

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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:40 pm 
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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.


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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:33 pm
Posts: 199
Location: San Clemente, CA
Hi Jon!

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

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8910&p=64641&hilit=speedway#p64641
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7563&p=54715&hilit=speedway#p54715

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

best,

Jim


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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:15 am 
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Posts: 145
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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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:54 pm 
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Location: NJ
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.

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

Image

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"

Image
(photo indy motor 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.

Image

Here is an original Speedway in the box:
(Exploding porcelain dial)

Image

Image

Image


Image

307 movement:

Image

Image


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.
G

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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 4:55 pm 
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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,

Jon

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


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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 5:46 pm 
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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,

Jon


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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:13 pm 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:20 pm 
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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!

Jon

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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:52 pm 
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Since last posting I have located two 3/0, 307 grade movements I will use for parts if needed for this restoration. Veritas123, if you are following I will post back bezel measurements for you. I apologize for the delay thus far.

Still have a few imperfections on the watch case needing tending to, didn't realize it and will post photos of the restored case soon. With all parts coming together, troubleshooting and cleaning time have arrived. I was worried about the case screw above the serial number and one of the dial foot screws, both of which are rusted. With luck and gentle pressure both budged pretty easy. I got lucky! With the movement out of the case I further disassembled by removing the dial, hour wheel, and dial washer, which I would imagine original to the watch.

I am waiting on some fresh sawdust to use as a drying agent for the balance assembly. Once acquired I will "one dip" this part. Next up: Balance assembly removal, watch movement cleaning, and further troubleshooting of the setting and winding mech.

***The pillar plate reads "4th Model". Does anybody know what this means? I would imagine 4th variation meaning this watch was towards end of production?***

Thanks for following along to all whom are interested.

Jon


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"A Minute of Care is Worth an Hour of Repair" circa 1930.
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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:05 pm 
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This is very exciting to follow.
Nice photos and enjoy the updates.

My watchmaker runs into this "4th Mod" all the time.
It is another variation of the 3/0 series and has
several different things about it that are specific to this model.
I will try to get Jesse to chime in here.

G

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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 9:22 am 
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Welcome, and thanks for contributing your watches and questions. It's a fun place to be.

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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:42 am 
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The 4th Model is the final version of the Illinois 3/0 movement, intended for wristwatch use, from the late 1920s on. Earlier models had been for pocket watches, though some had found their way to military-style watches during World War I. Illinois had almost stopped 3/0 production in the 1920s but restarted with the rising popularity of wristwatches in the late '20s, for models such as the Speedway.

I believe you will find a lot more about movement versions and production data in Fred Friedberg's forthcoming book.

I suspect your dial may be a refinished one because it lacks a date stamp on the back. Nonetheless, it will work for this model.


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 Post subject: Re: Speedway Cronicles
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:38 pm 
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Thank you once again on the movement information Mr. Toad. This is what I was wondering about the 4th model, never seen it stamped on this grade before working on this watch. I have to disagree with you on the dial. I am 99% certain it is an original but fully understand your reasoning behind your thoughts. It is interesting that there is not a date code on the back of the dial as usually seen on all of them. Has anyone come across this issue before? I have never seen a Speedway with this variation dial, but it was a factory option. I would like to discover more on the dial if anyone has further insight. Thank you Nookster and GJH for your comments.

I will be adding more soon. The 4th wheel pivot was broken on the watch, reason as to why the second hand was missing. I have the new 4th wheel partially installed and will be posting pictures soon regarding what has been done thus far.

Jon

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