Ball Pocket Watches and Wristwatches


1879 – 1969


On April 19, 1892, a fatal collision in Kipton, Ohio between a freight train and a passenger train, was attributed to a faulty engineer’s pocket watch which stopped for 4 minutes. This accident became the impetus for the adoption of new quality standards for railroad chronometers in 1893.

The first example of this was demonstrated when railroad officials commissioned Webb C Ball of Cleveland, Ohio as the General Time Inspector. Ball was the inspector of over 125, 000 miles of railroad and was responsible for creating the time inspection system for the railroad. Ball determined that the most important factor in maintaining operating safety of the railroad was a uniform watch that would be both accurate and durable enough to handle everyday usage by engineers for the railroad.

The first pocket watch created for this system was an 18-size ¾ plate by E Howard. There were many specifications that all watches manufactured for the Ball Watch Company had to adhere to. The watches needed to be able to withstand temperatures as low as 30 and as high as 95 degrees. In order to adhere to these temperature requirements, these antique pocket watches are found to have five positions of adjustment. These positions are dial up, dial down, pendant up, 9-up and 3- up. Later pendant down was added as a sixth position requirement. The purpose of these positions was to adjust spring tension within the watches to ensure accuracy during weather fluctuations.

After the initial watch was made for the company by Mr. Howard, the Hamilton Watch Company created a smaller watch that abided by the requirements of Webb C Ball, followed by Waltham Watch Company and later by the Elgin National Watch Company. All watches used by railroad employees were required to undergo inspections by a time inspector every two weeks and were only allowed a 30 second (+/-) leeway in accuracy.
Mr. Ball not only affected the history of the pocket watches with this design and demand for uniform time accuracy, but he also had a huge impact on the formation of the Horological Institute of America in 1921.

A Large View of an Hampden 18 size 15 jewel Superior Grade Ball open face pocket watch movement

A Large View of an Hampden 18 size 15 jewel Superior Grade Moorhouse like Ball open face pocket watch Dial

A Large View of an Elgin 18 size 17 jewel 333 Ball pocket watch movement

A Large View of an Elgin 18 size 17 jewel 331 Commercial Standard Ball pocket watch movement

A Large View of an Elgin 18 size 17 jewel 331 Commercial Standard Ball pocket watch Dial

A large view of a Hamilton Ball Ball’s Standard 18 Size pocket watch dial

A large view of an 18 Size 17 Jewel Hamilton Ball Railroad Watch Co. Ball’s Standard pocket watch movement

A large view of an 18 Size 21 Jewel Hamilton Ball Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen pocket watch movement

A large view of an 18 Size 21 Jewel Hamilton Ball Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen pocket watch dial

A large view of an 18 Size 19 Jewel Hamilton Ball Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Engineers pocket watch movement

A large view of an 18 Size 19 Jewel Hamilton Ball Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Engineers pocket watch dial

A large view of an 18 Size 17 Jewel Hamilton Ball Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen Standard (Type One) pocket watch movement

A large view of an 18 Size 17 Jewel Hamilton Ball Official Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen Standard (Type Two) pocket watch movement

A large view of an 18 Size 17 Jewel Hamilton Ball Official Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen Standard (Type Three) pocket watch movement

A large view of an 18 Size 17 Jewel Hamilton Ball Official Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen pocket watch dial

A Large view of a Hamilton Ball Wm. Kendrick”s Sons Louisviille, Ky. 18 Size pocket watch dial

A large view of a Hamilton Ball Wm. Kendrick”s Sons Louisviille, Ky. 18 Size 17 Jewel 999 Ball pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 17 jewel 999 Ball pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 17 jewel Signed (Curved) Motor Barrel 999 Ball pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 17 jewel Signed (Straight) Motor Barrel 999 Ball Movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 19 jewel Signed Double Roller 999 Ball pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 19 jewel Signed Adjusted 5 Positions Double Roller 999 Ball pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 21 jewel 999 Ball pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 18 size 21 jewel Motor Barrel 999 Ball pocket watch movement

A large view of a Hamilton, 16 size, 23 jewel 998, Elinvar, Ball pocket watch movement

A large view of an Illinois, 16 size 23 jewel Ball pocketwatch movement

A large view of an Illinois, 16 size 23 jewel Ball pocket watch Dial and Hands

A Large View of a Hamilton 16 size 23 jewel 999 Ball pocketwatch ovement

A large view of a Hamilton, 999B, 21 jewel Ball pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Hamilton 16 size 21 jewel 999 Ball pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 16 size 19 jewel Ball pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 16 size 17 jewel Ball BRT pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 16 size 17 jewel Ball BRT pocket watch Dial

A Large View of a Waltham 16 size 17 jewel Ball Marked Adjusted 5 positions pocketwatch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 16 size 17 jewel Ball Marked Adjusted positions pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 16 size 21 jewel Ball Marked Adjusted 5 positions Gold Seal pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 12 size 17 jewel Commercial Standard Ball pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Waltham 12 size 17 jewel Commercial Standard Ball pocket watch dial

A Large view of a Swiss Avia 435C Ball 21 Jewel pocket watch movement

A Large View of a Ball Canadian Railroad 24 hour pocketwatch Dial

A Large view of the inside of Ball pocket watch Case

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