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:
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.