The Movement that Started it All . . .
At first glance, one can easily look at the above pictured movement and wonder what it is that defines it as "special." Though it may not be much to look at, the movement pictured above is the prototype utilized initially in Hamilton's pendant watches and later in men’s wristwatches - it is the working model for the 0-size 17-jewel 983 movement; the movement that inhabited Hamilton's very first wristwatch for men.
This 0-sized prototype came directly from Hamilton's archives and was stored in its original tin marked:
Plate & Bridges
No dial or
No one knows what the "758" stood for - perhaps it was the suggested model number of this new movement, or perhaps it was the inventory number utilized in Hamilton's archives, or still yet, it may have something to do with the Meylan that it was modeled after. We may never know the answer to that question, but what we do know is that CH Meylan made some of the finest high-grade hand-finished watches in their day. Indeed, the 983 0-size is so similar to the Meylan, when one looks at an early Meylan comparatively; it takes a discerning eye to notice the differences between the two.
The Meylan modeled Hamilton 0-size had an appearance that was reminiscent of Hamilton's Swiss competitors, however, unlike the Swiss, it was an incredibly robust movement - a trait distinctly indicative of American watch manufacturers. A watch collector and expert that I often refer to describes it best when he says while looking at the balance-wheel of a Swiss watch - "A fine Swiss balance-wheel glides with the fluidity of perpetual motion, while an American balance-wheel moves with the unstoppable momentum of a freight train." This may be in part, due to the finer tolerances Swiss watch manufactures incorporated in their “atelier” style of manufacturing, while American watch manufactures concentrated their efforts on interchangeability and assembly-line construction. One mode of manufacture is not necessarily better than the other as both have their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
But the one thing that was similar with all 0-sized wristwatches was the size of the watches themselves. American 0-size watches of the late-teens were considerably larger than wristwatches made during the early 1920's. When one compares the 0-size to Hamilton's second generation wristwatch, the 6/0-size Cushion, there is little doubt from which "era" the 0-size came. The 6/0-size was a far smaller and more compact offering. In fact, it would not be until the nineteen seventies that wristwatches of the 0-size diameter would come back into vogue.
The Hamilton 0-size wristwatch is exceedingly rare; perhaps the rarest of all production American 0-size wristwatches. Their rarity however, does not negate their importance in American horology, or the importance it played as the forerunner of every Hamilton wristwatch thereafter.
The above prototype is a historic and significant exemplar – its decedents would set the standard for American quality and craftsmanship and establish watch manufacturing processes that would revolutionize the watch trade both here and abroad and proudly earn Hamilton the distinction as “America’s Finest Watch.”
The 0-Size Family Clockwise starting at twelve - 0-Size Prototype, 0-Size Spring bar 1922, 0-Size Cushion Wire-lug 1920, 0-Size Cushion 14K gold 1919, Center - 983 0-Size Movement in Cushion Wire-lug 1918