The Ball Pocket Watch Company

The Ball Pocket Watch Company played a vital part in the safety of the railroads...

The Ball Watch company was formed in 1879 in Cleveland, Ohio. Widely acknowledged for their role in the development of the specifications for the Railroad Pocket Watch the company did not actually produce any pocket watches of its own. After the horrific railroad crash at Kipton, Ohio in 1891, Mr. Webb C. Ball was commissioned and given the responsibility of producing standards for the measurement of employees' pocket watches used througout the railroad network.

When these standards were developed, most manufacturers of the time adopted them and produced watches specifically for use on the railroad. The standards were known as the "General Railroad Timepiece Standards" and included specifications such as:

Ball Pocket Watch
  • Must be Open faced
  • Size 16 or 18
  • Minimum 17 jewels
  • Adjusted to at least five positions
  • Keep time accurately to within 30 seconds per week
  • Be adjusted to temps of 34 to 100 degrees Farenheit
  • Have a double roller, steel escape wheel, lever set, regulator, winding stem at 12 o'clock
  • Have bold black arabic numerals on a white dial, with black hands.

Companies that made Ball watches included Elgin, Hamilton, Howard and Waltham. Although Ball did not produce any watches themselves, they did start to sell pocket watches in 1893. They did not, as was common for the time, sell movements separate to cases. All Ball pocket watches were sold as a complete unit, but with a choice of dials.

All Ball Watches were official Railroad standard with 17, 19, 21, and 23 jewels, adjusted to 5 positions, 16 size and 18 size and open face.

All images reproduced with the kind permission of Pieces of Time

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Other Pocket Watch Companies:

The Ball Pocket Watch Co

The Elgin Pocket Watch Co

The Hamilton Pocket Watch Co

The Hampden Pocket Watch Co

The Illinois Pocket Watch Co

The Ingersoll Watch Company

The Howard Pocket Watch Company

Waltham Pocket Watch