Monday, April 30, 2012

Colt D.A. 38 U.S. Army Model of 1901

Taking a break from working on watches and onto another passion; firearms. I came across a Colt D.A. 38 U.S. Army Model of 1901 and decided to pick it up as it is an interesting firearm if anything. The model 1901 is one of the refinement model changes of a Colt Model 1892 double action revolver, colloquially known as New Army & Navy DA Revolver. The New Army shares roots to the Single Action Army (SAA) and is also the last Colt revolver issued to the US armed forces before the iconic 1911.

Here an exploded view of a SAA

Reading up on the firearm, mine was produced 1902 and has seen the armory at least three times. The grips are the original smooth walnut grip and the inspector stamp of RAC faded, but can be made out

RAC were the initials of the civilian government employed sub-inspector at Colt, whose name is Rinaldo A. Carr between 1890 to 1903. Speaking of initials, two others can be found on one side of the frame

L.E.B. were the initials that belonged to a one Leroy E. Briggs who was an Army Captain that inspected revolvers rebuilt and refurbished at Remington's Bridgeport plant between 1898 to 1917 and the other set of letters, J.T.T belonged to none other than US Army Captain John Taliaferro Thompson who will go on to invent the Thompson Machine Gun, A.K.A Tommy Gun in 1919. The 'K' on the cylinder release is a Colt manufacturing stamp.

The stamp on the frame on the butt of the gun shows the model and serial

The side of the frame and barrel stamps showing the caliber and the 'other' model name

Next set of photos are the inspector stamps and serials in various locations, you can see a change in numbers which indicates that a part was upgraded at the armory and it is coded for the new replacement part.

Another roll mark is the patent date atop the barrel near the frame;

It is time to remove the grips in order to remove the side plate and inspect the action of the firearm. When I removed the grips, I came across something that I have only read about. It was a known practice that soldiers would sometimes carve something no the inside of the grip, typically a name. Here we see inscriptions on both sides, one with what appears to be 'S R Graham C.F.K. 36' and the other grip, 'Kingfisher Oklahoma'. I can only surmise that C.F.K is Cambrai Fritsch Kaserne, where work began in 1936 and completed in 1938. There was a north and south kasemes (Kaseme is a borrowed word from German which translates to 'barracks') and the 33rd Infantry and Artillery occupied the Freiherr von Fritsch Kaserne in the north and the 3rd Battalion in Cambrai Kaserne in the south. This would put the firearm, likely the last time it was service in Darmstadt, Germany (well, a city within a federal state of Germany), what a cool find.

The side plate opens to reveal the action to find it packed with grease, likely at the final armory trip for long term storage. The inside of the plate also shows a serial number matching to the original;

I get to cleaning out the grease packing and the action immediately improves so I continued cleaning until it is back to good operating order; and after all of this time the action is till like ball bearings on glass. I use spent .38 spl cases as snap caps to test the action, hammer energy and what not and everything seems to be a-ok. Time for a range trip!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bulova 16AC/6497 Pocket to Wrist Watch Conversion Part 2 - Completion

I decided to post better pics of the Bulova that I finished as SWC0003. This dial is progressively more distressed than my prototype Hamilton and under the glass, the finish grows on me more and more every time.
Once you see the back with the presentation style lid and see the gilt movement, the strap I feel complements the watch well.
And a bit closer look of the Bulova 16AC and you can see that that is an Swiss era Bulova just from the movement's iconic look that immediately identify the movement as a 6497.
The Swatch Group for those of you that may not be aware bought out ETA SA who has manufactured movements for various manufactures since the 18th century and it was ETA that designed the 6497 movement which is a very accurate pocket watch movement with a sub-dial second hand at 6'0 clock in an open face lay out. It was the 6497 and the Cortebert 616's DNA you see in pocket watches from the turn of the 20th century from American companies like Hamilton and E Howard (Keystone era) that put out the 10-size american pocket watch.

Here an example of an ETA SA 6497-1

Speaking of the 6497 as completed for other manufacturers via the Swatch Group, I have been considering a Hamilton Master Piece Caliber 870 build in the near future...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Salvation Watch Co. packaging

I was asked recently if the watches I make come in any kind of packaging and yes I do have packaging for them and in fact, it is as much the experience as is the watch. For my SWC production watches, I really wanted to capture an experience where the person opening it knows that it is handmade, the kind of craftsmanship from a bygone era. To capture that feeling, I pack everything in a wood box and use materials that would have been used in ye good ole days. When a client opens the package, there is a tactile feel, a smell, a definitive presence of something unique and fun. The package material are wood, hay, heavy stock paper, chalk, paint, and the that SWC watch. I start with the wood box and apply the chalkboard paint to the top of the box where I later write the SWC serial on the top with chalk and a piece of that chalk broken off and placed in the box. In the box is hay and brown Kraft type paper which will wrap around the watch to protect it during transport. Along with the rest of the contents, there is a SWC welcome card in there with your watch's information, instructions for manual winding, and finally embossed with the SWC embosser and the completed build entered into my ledger and yes, my ledger is pen and paper. Overall there should be a classic feel to opening the contents.

A recently completed Bulova build from and as promised, the pictures!

opening of the box


That is version one packaging, perhaps it will evolve as the builds do

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wittnauer 65 Revue

I came across a Wittnauer which is missing the crystal and the hour hand and became curious of how it would clean up so I dove into it and found the movement to be well made and a strong runner once cleaned and oiled. I am not certain of the production date but seeing the condition of it along with no noticeably visible serial markings, going go guess the movement is from the post Bulova buy out of Wittnauer.
The hour hand as it turns out wasn't missing per say but broken off at the base, leaving behind the circular part still attached to the center shaft/canon pinion. It was a minor pain to get the remainder of the hour hand off but a little coaxing and off it came. The dial was in fantastic shape and when I turned it around, saw a repetitive stamping that looked to be a name, and closer inspection revealed that I was right, it was stamped BEYELER & CIE. Beyeler is a dial maker out of Switzerland that was later bought by Rolex in 2000 but has been producing dials for various companies since 1880 and incorporated in 1960. Beyeler & Cie SA was founded by Albert-Favre Beyeler who is attributed with the development of machinery in 1908 for tracing and manufacturing of watch dials.
The case was made by another manufacture for Wittnauer, nothing particularly spectacular as far as the case goes;
The movement is now running strong and looking shiny, deciding what to do with this now.
The movement is really thin compared to 6497 derivative watches and looking at the 65 Revue, I see some resemblance to the plate lay out for a Hamilton 917 but shares no commonality otherwise.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bulova 16AC/6497 Pocket to Wrist Watch Conversion Part 1.2 (Update: Completed)

I have the Bulova running well and the new distressed dial completed, which was inspired by original Panerai watches and their dials aging through the war. Below the movement you can see the embossed SWC stamp on the paper below!
I plan to case this in a 44mm pilot style case in the very near future

UPDATE 4/23/2012 I did get to case this movement in a 44mm pilot case as planned, here is a pic of the distressed dial below glass;

It is a smooth running movement that deviated 1 min in two days and has a power reserve of ~40 hours on a full wind of the mainspring. Awaiting leather strap to officially complete this build.

UPDATE 4/26/2012 I finished the build officially with a brown leather strap, guess you can call the pattern tortoise shell? I will be posting pics later today under a different post, I was recently asked if the watches I make has any sort of packaging and yes, yes they do. Be on a look out for the post later today!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bulova 16AC/6497 Pocket to Wrist Watch Conversion Part 1

I came across a Bulova 16AC movement which appears to be a Swiss ETA/Unitas 6497 licensed for Bulova. It is a nice looking gilt finished movement with date code of NO which dates it to 1970. The movement once serviced ticks strongly and is keeping time well. The dial is slightly domes and the movement has a bevel to match to the domed dial. Unlike a Gruen dial, the sunk sub-dial is attached to the dial and comes off as one piece.
Here you can see from the side view the radius of the dome of the dial;
Top of the movement with the beveled edge;
And the back of the movement with the clear resemblance to a 6497;
While servicing it, I caught a reflection of light from a flat spot on the dial side of the movement which I found weird and upon closer inspection, I found what I can only surmise that it is a name. What is unknown is if it is (assuming that it is a name) if it got there from the factory assembly or from a watch repair. I had to take a pic through two eye loupes stacked, one x10 and the other x15 and full magnification on an iPhone to get a clear image of the inscription;
As you can see in the picture above, it appears to be AyottE inscribed on the movement. I take apart the movement again in case it was written anywhere else and nothing. I began inspecting the dial to decide what to do with it for the build and when I flipped it around, I found the same inscription but larger this time;
With the movement working, it is time to dress it up with a dial next. If any reader knows if the movement is a 6497 or not and any idea on the inscription, please comment your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salvation Watch Co.

To begin, no I am not religious. I wanted to capture the idea that I produce recycled watches from old/antique and other wise collectible movements and Recycled Watch Co. just didn't quite sound right, so the synonym of Salvage works but Salvage Watch Co. sounds like I dig through crap to find watches......poop. I pour a dram of scotch and get to work on a watch and it dawned on me; Salvation Watch Co. has a good ring to it and my weird sense of humor finding glee in the play on words in the name.

SW0001 which was the Hamilton in an earlier blog has been sold and now the Molnija withe the factory hunter dial is SW0002.....super exciting time. Check out the SWC care card I created for my watches below,

Perhaps the Doxa is next...or maybe another 917? Possibly a Molnija many movements, so little time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Molnija 3602 wrist watch conversion Part 2

I just finished up with the Molnija 3602 conversion. I got another 3602 hunter style movement in today that I ordered for the dial and decided to use it to finish the build. During this process, I learned that there a nuances that differ between the open face and hunter style 3602. The second hand on the hunter style is a slightly larger diameter shaft than the open face and another nuance that I encountered that made me pause for a moment was that the hunter style movement had a push pin detent to release the stem where the open face style had the retention screw.

Balance wheel on the hunter case is copper where the open face is brass (maybe gold plated?),

and the jewel stamp is decidedly absent from the hunter movement.

The watch with the swapped factory dial and a brown leather strap in a stainless case, pretty snazzy.

Another watch ready for purchase, if interested; email me here.

Addendum 4/17/2012

I went and looked around at other hunter 3602 movements and did find those with screw retention and other discrepancies I found to be non-existent. The differences are perhaps manufacturing location or manufacturing period are my next hypothesis. Any Molnija experts out there reading this, I welcome your information.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Go check out an awesome movie review site.

Yes I know, you sit there and roll your eyes at my post and say I already have a movie review site; but this is by one of my besties and her writings are superb even. Since you are already this far in reading this post, go and check her blog out as she hands judgement to film at

Molnija 3602 wrist watch conversion Part 1

Next on my radar of movements to poke around on is the Molnija (Lightning in Russian, thanks David!) 360x series of movements. The 360x series is the Russian copy of the Cortebert 616 and has three models available, the 3601, 3602, and 3603 and they are separated as such:

01: antishock, but no second hand (I have however seen 3601 with a subdial)
02: second hand in subdial, no antishock
03: second hand in subdial, with antishock

The first two digits of the model indicates the size of the movement and the last two the variation within the model range. It is nice to be able to work on this movement without having to pay for the cost of a Cortebert movement.

The pocket watch I bought on ebay had a plain printed dial and the subdial is not sunk like I am used to seeing on Hamilton 10 size watch dials.

Seeing that the dial is one solid piece, it is an ideal candidate for my water slide watch dial application, and the movement below the dial is a pretty plain Jane looking surface.

I decided to keep the original hands and re-use them as they have maintained their bluing but the stem would have to be replaced. At first I planned on cutting down the original stem but than as I inspected it closer, I came to find that the threads for the crown are tapped only for the crown at the top of the stem and is not threaded all the way down like you would see on a 6497 stem.

I have no source for NOS Molnija stems so I started to compare a 6497 stem to the original stem from the watch and came to find that the thread diameter is the same but the square part of the stem that engages the winding trunnion and the un-threaded part right above the square parts (can be seen in the picture above) were what was preventing the 6497 stem from fitting the Molnija. They were only slightly too big to fit, as in .04mm too big at the square part and about the same at the round part. I decided to apply my 1911 building skills of slowly fitting metal parts together by gently and slowly filing and fitting but in this case; lapping with a diamond lap and keep measuring and comparing with a pair of calipers. You can see the fitted stem on the left in the photo below.

After about an hour of lapping and filing, I was able to fit the 6497 stem to the watch. Now on to fitting for a case.