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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Although being a fan of watches and movements, I had never heard of Hamilton. Until last week!
Sadly my grandfather past away in December. When visiting my grandmother last week, she asked me: “Aren’t you interested in watches? Your grandfather has a watch which hasn’t ran for 10 years, but is I very nice brand I believe. If you want you can have it.”

The watch turned out to be a Hamilton Fontainebleau purchased for 495 guilders (I’m Dutch , at the time 250 dollars) in 1975. After Googling Hamilton, the Fontainbleau, Caliber 11, electrics, etc….a new Hamilton fan was born! Maybe this is common knowledge, but the Caliber 11 movement is the first automatic chronograph movement ever made. It was developed by a consortium of various brand: Hamilton/Breitling/Hauer/Buren. A very interesting clockwork that changed the business. For more info: google caliber 11.

Although delighted with this inheritance, that has a very high emotional value for me, I am very concerned with the state of the watch. It has been absolutely abused. Since there was no internet at the time (nor a Hamilton dealer in the Netherlands), my grandfather wasn’t able to find a jeweler or watchmaker to properly have it serviced. When the bracelet got damaged, he brought it to a local (cheap) jeweler in his hometown. The jeweler mounted a terrible Citizen (OMG) bracelet and a short while later the watch stopped running.
I took it to a vintage watch specialist today for a quote to repair the Fontainebleau. The watchmaker has opened the watch and diagnosed that water has gone in to the case. The movement is rusty at a few places and the crown is damaged. It needs to be taken apart, cleaned and serviced. I’m guessing that the jeweler that mounted the citizen bracelet has opened the watch and didn’t close it properly. Anyway, to make a long story short, the watchmaker has quoted the repair around 700 euro’s (950 us). Definitely worth it because, besides the emotional value it has to me and I would never sell it, a Hamilton Fontainebleau is offered in between 1500 and 2500 euro’s in Europe (2k to 3k us).

Perhaps you guys can help me with few things:
1. Is the watchmakers quote reasonable in your opinion?
2. Are you guys all in the US or do you recommendations for good watchmakers in Europe or even in the Netherlands?
3. Do you know if it’s possible to get a new plexiglass cover (no idea what it’s called in English, I mean the glass on the case)?
4. Do you know if it’s possible to get original or replica leather or steel bracelets?

Thanks so much for your help. I’ve made some pictures with my phone. Not very good quality, but it gives you an impression. As you can see on the pictures, I'm not yet used to the crowm on the left ;)

IMAG0188.jpg IMAG0189.jpg IMAG0190.jpg IMAG0187.jpg IMAG0185.jpg
 

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I just bought a Hamilton Chrono-matic, it's at the watchmaker now, too. Fortunately, the movement is in fantastic shape. It needs a new crystal (what the clear cover is called) also, but mine is round, so it will probably be easier to find a replacement.

There is a ton of information on the Heuer Cal 11's, less on the Breitling models, and almost nothing on the Hamiltons. One would think that would make the Hamiltons more valuable, but no.

The Caliber 11 vs El Primero vs Seiko story is very interesting indeed. Zenith announced the El Primero first, however, there is no evidence to support that they had actual running watches then, and they were definitely last to present production models to their dealer network. It's pretty much a dead heat between the Cal 11 coalition and Seiko for who had an automatic chronograph in the market first.

There are a few Fontainbleu on ebay - you might look into buying one for parts, and make one good running watch out of the two of them.
 

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Found a reliable watchmaker that has offered his services at a reasonable price!
In 2 months a will be able to post a wrist picture!

Next challenge...finding a strap/bracelet to match the watch! Originally it had a steel bracelet, but I think a black leather rally like strap will suit the Fontainebleau real well! For example this one from [non-sponsor vendor info removed]

@tc: congrats with your Chrono. Can you upload some pics?
 

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Mine is at the watchmaker too, I will take some pictures when I get it back (hopefully, late next week or early the next)
 

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Hi Sascha, I just want to mention the forum rules. Linking to non-sponsor commercial vendors is not allowed including eBay auctions by such vendors. Sorry.:blush:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi Sascha, I just want to mention the forum rules. Linking to non-sponsor commercial vendors is not allowed including eBay auctions by such vendors. Sorry.:blush:
Didn't know. Sorry about that!
Perhaps I should read the forum rules :blushing:
 

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So I wrote Hamilton about mine, and they forwarded it on to their consulting historian. He said:

"Your watch is a "Chronomatic B" which was sold from 1970 to 1973. The price started at $200 and was raised to $215 in 1973. It was originally offered only with metal band."

I asked if it was possible to narrow down the date of manufacture (I was born in 1971). He said:

"Unfortunately not. The number on the case is a product reference code, not a serial number. Case serial numbers were used previously but they were issued by the case manufacturer who supplied them to Hamilton. No record of case numbers was ever kept by Hamilton. Hamilton did use serial numbers on movements which allowed dating of watches, but they discontinued the practice in 1958, long before your watch was made. (The only exception was for railroad pocket watches, which were numbered up to 1969.)"

So, friendly guy, but wasn't a lot of help in this case.
 

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Hi Sascha. Of course it is possible to find an original Fontainbleu bracelet. It is just a matter of how lucky you get.
Perhaps you can send an email to one of our members: timesofplenty Home
He deals in vintage watch straps and maybe he can point you in the right direction to find one. But The Fontainbleu is such a great looking watch, even something like the new bracelets by Hadley-Roma would makt it look fabulous.

Good Luck
 

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So I wrote Hamilton about mine, and they forwarded it on to their consulting historian.
tc - the gentleman in question is Rene Rondeau; "the" expert in Hamilton watches and the best resource for Hamilton Electric watches. He has written highly sought after books on the subject and posts here under the name HamiltonElectric. We have been fortunate to have his input, his word is treated as gospel in Hamilton circles.

Nice watch by the way!
 

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Pictures!

The watch came back of few months ago and I'm loving it!
I never came around to posting the pictures, but here we go.

My wachtmaker made these pictures during the restoration of the movement.
Fantastic pics IMO!




















Some pictures of the end result on an ATG strap:











 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Almost forgot about the these.....the fontainebleau in a 'menage au trois' with a GMTII and a Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne.
Terrible quality, but wanted to share the pics anyway.







 

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That's brilliant - having pictures during the restoration! Not seen that before; think it's very cool.
 
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