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Project Pocket Watch Part II - The starting point

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  • Project Pocket Watch Part II - The starting point

    Thanks for your input on the previous thread. I wanted to share a bit about the original 4992B watch, and the place from which my own project began, for context:

    I've long been a fan of Hamilton pocket watches, and have a special attraction to the 992B railroad watch and the various military watches derived from its design: Model 23 (below), and grades 4992B (24-hour Master Navigational Watch, below) and 3992B (3992B)--more info on these can be found here. I've owned a 992B Railway Special, and a Model 23 "Navigational Stop Watch" but prior to the acquisition of the project watch discussed in this thread, I had not owned either the 4992B or 3992B. Generally, the 4992B is easily identified by the 24-hour dial in black, while the 3992B (made in very low numbers) has a white 12-hour dial. These were both military-issued watches, and came in base-metal cases of silver/white metal with markings on the back. They looked like the case at right below:


    The correct military case in good shape can be hard to find and expensive, but re-cased examples of 4992Bs can be found for good prices. I figured I would buy the best X992B movement I could find, that was not too expensive nor encumbered by originality. I could always build it back to stock configuration if so desired.

    Another of my requirements (perhaps 'preferences' is the more apt term) was that it NOT be a 24-hour model. I simply don't have confidence I'll enjoy reading a 24-hour dial (this has kept me from owning classic Zodiac wristwatches of that style, though I admire them). Considering that the 3992Bs are rare (<2500 made versus >96,000 4992Bs, according to Roy Ehrhardt), I wasn't too confident that a low-priced 3992B could be found. However, after the war, many 4992Bs were converted to 12-hour configuration and given replacement dials. I've read that Hamilton provided kits for watchmakers to effect this conversion--I'll try to learn more about this and share here.

    So, I'll try to wrap this up quickly...I was able to locate and procure a clean and smooth-running 12-hour 4992B (production early 1944), just as I had hoped. That was ten years ago...why am I only describing this process now? More on that soon.

    In summary, the watch I obtained had a replacement case (gold-filled RR-style Mainliner) and a replacement dial, but still much of the mystique of a military-issued watch that had survived the world's most notable armed conflict. The fact it wasn't 100% original was a bonus for me...because I like to build hotrod watches...

    Part III coming soon...

    Last edited by Watch Carefully; 11-18-2020, 03:56 PM.