Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology
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  1. #1
    Member skywatch's Avatar
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    Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    A few weeks ago I saw a sale posting here on WUS for this watch, and I contacted the seller, who happens to live 20 minutes away. We got together today and had a great afternoon geeking out about watches. (He has some beauties.)

    I don't understand my own mind, because I think this Hamilton Electronic is totally cool with it's transistors and mechanical balance; yet one could argue that quartz watches are better in every way. Something interests me philosophically and poetically about our intermediate steps in the evolution of technology.

    My friend discovered this in a watchmaker's desk removed from an old department store that went out of business. He found this in the drawer (along with some REAL gems.) He had it refurbished, then scrounged two additional movements with the same dial. Now I have this beauty and two backups for spares.

    For those who don't waste all their time researching obsolete movements like I have started doing, here's some info: 1975 vintage Hamilton Electronic, using the Dynotron ESA 9158 movement (Hamilton Caliber 702). Slightly less accurate than a well-calibrated tuning fork movement, but much cheaper to manufacture. Quartz hadn't quite decimated the field yet, and all the good timekeepers were still expensive to build. There's actually a mechanical balance and mainspring with traditional lever adjustment which interacts with the transistor oscillator. I still need to research the electro-mechanical driving principle, information is a bit scarce. The seconds hand ticks 3 times per second, and listening to the movement up to my ear tells me there's a "back-tick" so it sounds like 6/sec. Physically, this watch is 38mm wide, 41mm lug-lug, with surprisingly wide 22mm lugs. The brown/gold sunburst dial is so 'Seventies, and the precise pale blue seconds marks give it a clean sense of detail. I am smitten.

    These are the back-ups - two spare movements and a full spare case (purchased originally for the crystal)

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    Here's a close-up of the spare movement, but the "Hamilton 702" label is missing from the exposed spare.

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    And the fully functional watch:

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    mike184, john87300, joeuk and 4 others like this.
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

    "Watches tie people to the celestial clockwork... but people have been encouraged by their clocks to ignore the daily and seasonal cycles and to pretend that there is nothing to contend with but metronome-paced linear time. We appear to have caged the sun inside a machine." Michael Young, The Metronomic Society, p. 204

  2. #2
    Member stratct's Avatar
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    That's a cool watch! Any mechanical watch is obsolete tho.
    skywatch likes this.
    Stratocasters Rock!

  3. #3
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Congrats, it´s a nice watch and a very interesting movement! I bought a Rado Marstron with ESA/ETA 9154 Dynotron two months ago. That shows time very exactly, seems to be a question of regulating. From a 1972´s catalogue I know that it had been in the same price range like comparable automatics(Manhattan, NCC 101).
    Last edited by mike184; April 9th, 2012 at 13:40.
    Best regards, Mike

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  5. #4
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    A number of companies used these ESA 915x electric movements. Once introduced they quickly came to dominate the market causing even Hamilton to abandon their own electrics. The Germans also made some interesting electrics... but relative to Hamilton's 500 series and the ESAs they are rare but generally demand no premium in today's market. Timex probably made more than all the others combined with their M40 family. I posted a set of pics on my 870 a while back.

    These movement can be serviced like any mechanical movement which they really are. The regulation of balance wheel speed by the electronics gives them a slight advantage in producing good timing. But tuning forks came to the fore and doomed the movement as they represented a significant accuracy advantage.

    Then Girrard Perrigeaux came out with a quartz controlled stepper motor movement with the 300 series and the rest is, as they say, history...
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  6. #5
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Hey skywatch,

    It was a pleasure hanging/geeking well. Glad the watch has found a great new home among some of your wonderfully diverse collection. Thanks for sharing them. Nice write up and fantastic photos on the Hamilton!

  7. #6
    Member skywatch's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Quote Originally Posted by sport1000 View Post
    Hey skywatch,

    It was a pleasure hanging/geeking well. Glad the watch has found a great new home among some of your wonderfully diverse collection. Thanks for sharing them. Nice write up and fantastic photos on the Hamilton!

    The pleasure was all mine... and I am so happy to see that the WUS community stretches into a real (non-virtual) world of human interests. If ever you want the watch and movements back - I consider them yours, and I am the caretaker. Thank you for sharing your interests with me. - R
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

    "Watches tie people to the celestial clockwork... but people have been encouraged by their clocks to ignore the daily and seasonal cycles and to pretend that there is nothing to contend with but metronome-paced linear time. We appear to have caged the sun inside a machine." Michael Young, The Metronomic Society, p. 204

  8. #7
    Member 3th3r's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Really cool retro looking watch. It looks a bit a Fossil wanna-be-retro, but this is the real deal.
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  9. #8
    Member skywatch's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Thanks for the kind words and the additional information! Actually, today I took the other two movements over to my watchmaker to see if we might not make a second functioning watch out of them. In so doing I think we figured out how the big scratch happened on the spare case - that thing has the most tightly screwed-on back I've ever seen. My watch guy couldn't get it off with all his tools, so I left it with him, and we both agreed the gouge probably came from a slipped case tool in the past.
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

    "Watches tie people to the celestial clockwork... but people have been encouraged by their clocks to ignore the daily and seasonal cycles and to pretend that there is nothing to contend with but metronome-paced linear time. We appear to have caged the sun inside a machine." Michael Young, The Metronomic Society, p. 204

  10. #9
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Hey guys.

    Wanted to touch base as I just purchased this watch on the original JB Champion Mesh Bracelet.

    I am hoping you can send me any information you may have on this watch.

    I am eager to learn more about this movement and what would be involved in getting it serviced down the road.

    Thanks so much.

  11. #10
    Member skywatch's Avatar
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    Re: Hamilton Electronic: fun with obsolete technology

    Hi cerhard - I pretty much wrote everything I know about the movement. It's a Dynotron ESA 9158. You can find a bit more information on Roland Ranfft's excellent movement archive, here: bidfun-db Archive: Watch Movements: ETA-ESA 9158

    It takes a standard 344 size silver oxide cell. It does need cleaning and lube like standard mechanical movements. One thing to be cautious about is the plastic date ring, which can oxidize and shed particles into the case. They are surprisingly easy to service, and I was able to get the second watch open with a knife and super-glue, placing the watch in a vice. The movements pop in and out very easily.

    Alas, in my efforts to downsize my collection in the last few years, I have since sold both of these Hamiltons.

    Enjoy!

    Quote Originally Posted by cerhard View Post
    Hey guys.

    Wanted to touch base as I just purchased this watch on the original JB Champion Mesh Bracelet.

    I am hoping you can send me any information you may have on this watch.

    I am eager to learn more about this movement and what would be involved in getting it serviced down the road.

    Thanks so much.
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

    "Watches tie people to the celestial clockwork... but people have been encouraged by their clocks to ignore the daily and seasonal cycles and to pretend that there is nothing to contend with but metronome-paced linear time. We appear to have caged the sun inside a machine." Michael Young, The Metronomic Society, p. 204

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