Ball Railroad Pocket Watches

History of the Webb C. Ball Watch Company:

Webb C. Ball of Cleveland, Ohio, was the general time inspector for a large chunk of the railroads in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was Ball who was originally commissioned by certain railroad officials to develop the standards for railroad approved watches. The Ball Watch Company didn't produce any watches itself, but instead had high-grade watches manufactured by other companies made to Ball's specifications and the company literally placed its stamp of approval on them and marketed them under the Ball name. Ball watches were made primarily by Waltham and Hamilton, although there were also a small number made by Aurora, Elgin, Illinois, Hampden and Howard. There were also some Swiss-made Ball watches, but these are not as prized by railroad watch collectors as the American models. One interesting note is that Ball was not a fan of highly jeweled watches, feeling that anything beyond 17 or 19 jewels was unnecessary, although he did later market 21 and 23 jewels watches as the market demanded them.

-- from The New Collector's Guide to Pocket Watches, © 2000 Barry S. Goldberg

If anybody has some additional information about these watches that they would care to share with me, please send me an e-mail and let me know!

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18 Size Hamilton Ball Model #999 with 17 jewels, made by the Hamilton Watch Company specifically for the Ball Watch Company. Stem wind and lever set. Nickel swing-out railroad case. Ca. 1901.
This is a Waltham railroad watch made specifically for the Ball Watch Company. It is size 16, stem wind, lever set, adjusted to 5 positions and has 21 jewels. Ca. 1915.

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