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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello - I have gone crazy trying to research this watch maybe once a year for the last SEVENTEEN years!!! I will post pic tomorrow, if that's better. I have a 14k Piping Rock form 1929-1934 (according to serial number) w/ 979-F movement. BUT - It has a BLACK dial! It also has the name "Willie" in gold letters right beneath the center. Could one ORDER this anomaly? Who can I contact for this info? If anyone...... Thank You in Advance.

cb
 

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Rene Rondeau is the official Hamilton historian. A quick google will find his website.

custom dials are quite common with Hamilton watches. Hamilton had a very large custom department that specialised in these sorts of things. It was also very common to find custom dials done by jewellers without passing through the Hamilton factory.

Rene is the best bet for this sort of information.

cheers,
 

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I'm sorry I don't have any information to help you out, but seeing as you offered, I would be EXTREMELY interested in seeing those pictures!!! :w00t:
 

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It looks pretty cool. Black dials always look cool on vintage models. I am not a 20's/30's era expert but I'll share what I see.

I suspect that it is a custom refinish rather than a factory special order. I see no evidence that Hamilton offered ever offered a black dial on the Piping Rock. Plus, the seconds track appears a bit oversize. The other Piping Rocks that I've seen have more space between the circular opening of the case and the seconds track. If it were a factory custom, I would expect the seconds track to have the same characteristics as any other model. It looks like a older redial which becomes part of the heritage of the watch itself...part of it's uniqueness, IMHO.

If you wanted, the dial could be refinished back to it's factory appearance pretty inexpensively but why would you want to. It's personalized, cool and vintage custom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank You so much everyone. I always knew there were 'people out there' who were 'plain ole nice' - it's refreshing to have it confirmed. Just for fun.........I got this watch in the botom of a Thrift Store Grab Bag @ $5.00. I thought it looked special, so I had it serviced & gave it to my Dad for Father's Day! I love it just the way it is, but I would like to get a nice band - is there one more period correct that anyone advises?

Thank You, Again

cb
 

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Here's an original catalog image. This one will have the stitching exposed on the front. You should be able to see that detail in the image. You did very well for finding this in a grab bag. It's probably worth somewhere between one to two grand.

 

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the closest you will probably find to Original fitment will be a vintage black pigskin strap. the look is very vintage.

many of the strap providers who are sponsors here will have something that meets the requirement.

cheers, and your dad is really lucky :)
 

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While my guess is the name was added outside the factory, likely by a local jeweler, I would not be so fast as to presume this black dial is not perhaps original! Other than the name Willie being added in a different font, it looks like a potentially correct special order dial with the correct design to me. I have seen a few special order Hamilton dials with names on them, including at least 1 other Piping Rock. I have also seen special order Piping Rocks with names around the bezel instead of numbers, and even bezels with red enamel instead of black. One needs to remember that during the Great Depression, companies were willing to do just about anything to make a buck! Here are two of my Piping Rocks. These 2 examples both have dials where the tracks are all etched to allow the black enamel paint to be "flowed" into the tracks as is belongs. Both of these dials are original -- but notice one is a silver dial with a silvered sub-5 circle but the other is powder coated in white. I have also seen correct PR dials that are completely printed without such etched tracks. If one has a good look at your dial you should see how it was done -- who knows, the blank might be brass or even gold -- I have a few black dials with gold tracks made like this also.

No matter, for $5 this was a STEAL... and a collector's dream! At $1800 an ounce for gold, I imagine the gold content alone is over $500 these days. I WISH I owned it!

As far as straps go... IMHO NOTHING beats a nice Artisanal alligator strap from Hirsch. (My white PR in this photo is wearing an Artisanal alligator strap.) IF your dad's watch happens to still have its 14K hamilton buckle, then depending if its 14mm or 16mm (9/16" or 5/8") you will need either a tapered or non-tapered strap. Hadley Roma also makes a nice alligator or crocodile non-tapered strap. Please feel free to PM me... as I have another very good source at a lower price than these 2 I mentioned, but I have learned that some sources are better kept a bit more... private. :lol:

Regards,

Rick
 

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