Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

Thread: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

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  1. #1
    Member RuffRydas's Avatar
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    Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    Hello again, sorry to keep coming back with newb questions but...

    I just recently lucked out on both a Hamilton 4992B and a Elgin 162, both watches seem to run ok but I'd like to get them to tip top shape if possible. What would you veterans suggest? I took the 4992B to a reputable watchmaker and he says it might need a new balance staff, the repair work plus cleaning, oiling and timing would cost close to $400. Should I be expecting even more for the Elgin, as the 162 model seems fairly difficult to find parts for?

    Also, what's the difference, if any, between "regulating" and "adjusting"? I've read somewhere "adjusting" requires more work, is this true?

    Thanks in advance...

  2. #2
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    Provided that both are running and will run in all positions, it's very unlikely that balance staff replacement will be needed. Even so, on a 4992B, balance staffs are stupidly simple to replace(it doesn't require a lathe, and rarely requires truing and poising the wheel) and $400 sounds WAY too high to me.

    As for the 162-my reference indicates that there were 4000 of these made, so it is less common than many other RR grade Elgins. With that said, it's listed as a 16 size model 7 3-finger bridge. I expect that most of the common parts-in particular the balance staff, balance jewels, and mainspring, will interchange with other movements in this series.

    The 162 is a real gem. I'm not much of an Elgin guy, but it's definitely one of my favorite Elgin grades. The gold dome over the balance just sets it all off for me. I'd suggest choosing your watchmaker carefully for it, as this is a fairly desirable and valuable watch. I'd love to see pictures of it if you don't mind sharing.

    Regulating is usually thought of as simply moving the regulator arm to make the watch keep correct time in either one static position, or over the averaged positional error resulting from wear. For many collectors, it's a common DIY procedure, and can generally be done with either a toothpick or a fine-bladed screwdriver depending on the type of regulator.

    Adjusting refers to setting a watch up so that it keeps time the same under a variety of different conditions. There are three different classes of adjustment which we usually talk about-isochronism, temperature, and positional. Isochronism refers to a watch keeping the same time at full wind as when close to run down-provided that the mainspring is in good shape(not set) and the overcoil is properly formed, there's not much that can be done by a watchmaker to change this(although some watches are fitted with a Geneva stopworks that must be properly set up to optimize this). Temperature adjustment in modern watches(and I'm including the 992B/4992B in the modern category) is achieved through the use of hairsprings which have little variability in their elasticity across different temperatures. In older watches, temperature compensation was achieved by changing the position of balance screws. Positional adjustment is the most difficult kind. As a starting point, it requires the balance to be perfectly true and in poise. Special tweaks the the hairspring and other minor adjustments are often necessary-there have been books on this subject.

    In the watch factories, positional adjustment was responsible for much of the cost of a high grade watch, and would often take several months to complete. Electronic timing machines make the process significantly faster, but it's still not a quick process.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
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  3. #3
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    Now that is a very good and easily understood explaination about the difference
    between adjusting and regulating.
    Many collectors think they are the same thing...your post should be retitled and made into a sticky.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    Great post from Ben! The quoted price seems way high. For either watch a max of $150 unless a new balance or other parts needed.

  6. #5
    Member RuffRydas's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    Thank you for all the info! How many hours would you guys estimate it takes for an experienced watchmaker to completely take apart a pocket watch, clean/oil the parts, put it back together and time it?

  7. #6
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    I don't know how experienced I'd call myself, but I can take apart, clean, reassemble, and oil a typical 21j RR grade movement in good running shape in less than an hour and a half. That's including a 20 minute cycle through the cleaning machine.

    Timing it does add some additional time, but it's not time spent actually working on the watch. Before I attempt to time one, I will typically first let it run to settle into a steady rate for 24h or so without making any adjustment at all.

    I will then regulate it on the timing machine, which takes 5-10 minutes and gets it close but not exactly there.

    I then set it to time.gov and run it for several days, making careful observation and regulating as necessary.

    It takes me about a week to get the regulation to where I'm happy with it, usually.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
    Member, NAWCC Chapter 149. Vice President and Secretary NAWCC Chapter 140. Member, NAWCC Convention Committee.
    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

  8. #7
    Member RuffRydas's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton 4992B and Elgin Grade 162

    Wow, I don't know too much about the going rate here in Canada for a quality independent watchmaker but $400 does seem like alot for what appears to be a maximum of 2hrs work. I want to make sure the job gets done correctly as these are THE jewels of my vintage collection thus far, guess I should continue to do my homework and call around for more quotes. Anyone know of any quality watchmakers in the Toronto area that works on vintage American pocket watches?
    Last edited by RuffRydas; December 10th, 2011 at 22:27.

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