Internet Horology Club 185
Early Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images...

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October 10, 2006, 10:45
Lindell V. Riddle
Early Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images...

Early Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images.

Although Webb C. Ball promoted himself as a "Watch Manufacturer" that is a misnomer,
he marketed a wide variety of watches, all specifically finished to his specifications by
the major watch companies of the day, but none of his watches were actually made
at the Cleveland, Ohio facility despite all his many efforts to keep that myth alive.

Unlike some other, particularly later Ball Watches, on all 18-size Ball-Hamiltons
the Hamilton production numbers are employed. Ball would order a "block", or
range of numbers set-aside, sometimes it took several years to use all of the
numbers, since there might be various jewel-counts and designations used it
is nearly impossible to predict which variants may have been in a given run.

(Unless otherwise stated the watches depicted herein are from my collection.)

October 10, 2006, 10:45
Lindell V. Riddle

The lowest number in a Ball-Hamilton test run consisting of 601-615 is shown below.
Number 601 once carried by Webb C. Ball, today it rests in the Don Barrett Collection.

From 1894 Ball-Hamilton 601 was produced in a limited run...

October 10, 2006, 10:45
Lindell V. Riddle

Oddly, these are not marked as to jewel-count but they are 17-Jewel movements.

Number 601 was marked as "Ball's Standard Superior Grade"

October 10, 2006, 10:46
Lindell V. Riddle

The earliest use we find of "Official Rail-Road Standard" was on movements within
8701-8800 during 1895 production. Its use continued later that year, in a mixed
run 13001-14000 along with some Brotherhood movements such as seen here.

Railroad Brotherhoods were the organized trade unions founded to help obtain
better, safer working conditions, provide insurance and retirement programs.

Correctly marked Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen dial...

October 10, 2006, 10:46
Lindell V. Riddle

From 1895 number 13050 is one of the earliest Ball-Hamilton Brotherhood movements.

"Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, Standard" movement...

October 10, 2006, 10:52
Lindell V. Riddle

As detailed in the "Complete Guide to Watches" the earliest Official Rail-Road Standard
movements command a premium among collectors. Notice larger signature "Trade Mark,
Official RR Standard, Ball & Co., Cleveland, O." dial markings that are found typically on the
early Ball-Hamilton ORRS watches and continuing through upper 170000 serial number range.

Another feature of early 18-size ORRS and Brotherhoods was the "wavy-top 3" which is found
only on very early dials, this attractive design was gradually phased-out by the late 1890s.

Here is number 14927 which is from 1897 production...

October 10, 2006, 10:52
Lindell V. Riddle

This movement numbered 14927 was produced as part of a run consisting of 14001-15000
records show were produced beginning in 1895 through 1896 and completed during 1897
but interestingly, the next two watches shown, numbers 20577 and 20833 were actually
produced earlier although they carry higher numbers. This often occurred in production.

Odd as it might seem today, movements were routinely finished out of consecutive order.

"Official RR Standard" 17-Jewel "Adjusted" movement...

October 10, 2006, 10:58
Lindell V. Riddle

Ball was a marketing genius and his "Railroad Watch Company" was a separate brand name.

These 17-Jewel Adjusted Railroad Grade movements fronted Double-Sunk dials, something
that Webb C. Ball deplored. We see them rarely used on his watches, this is one exception.
We will share more of the very rare Ball Double-Sunk dials in upcoming postings to follow.

"Ball's Standard, Railroad Watch Co., Cleveland, O." marking...

October 10, 2006, 10:58
Lindell V. Riddle

This variant is the only "Railroad Watch Co." ever sold as a Railroad Grade movement.

Movement number 20577

"Adjusted" 17-Jewel movement dates to 1896 production...

October 10, 2006, 11:03
Lindell V. Riddle

Here, movement 20843 the lesser Railroad Watch Company version which is 16-Jewels which
means no center jewel on the dial side. Note the plainer, straight-line damaskeening and lack
of "Standard" or "Adjusted" on the movement. Likewise, the correct dial for this movement
will have a "Railroad Watch Co., Cleveland, O." signature without "Ball's Standard" above.

This 16-Jewel version is essentially like their later "Commercial Standard" watches and
we need to remember Ball never marketed a less than 17-Jewel movement as being
RR Grade, in 1896 nothing below 17-Jewels was accepted in Railroad Time service.

Unadjusted 16-Jewel below is also from 1896 production...

October 10, 2006, 11:14
Lindell V. Riddle
(insert brt/b'whl)

From 1898 number 28755 featuring rare Double-Sunk ORC Dial...

October 10, 2006, 11:14
Lindell V. Riddle


Uncommon "Order of Railway Conductors Standard" movement...

October 10, 2006, 11:53
Lindell V. Riddle

Notice that hour numerals had changed by the 42000-43000 production movement numbers.
We find the "wavy-top" number 3 on earlier dials was easy to spot but has been phased-out.
By now a "flat-top" is found on the number 3 in addition to other revisions, a more modern
"bolder" look would become part of nearly all the Ball patented dials in the years to come.


Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Dial, Pierced Hands...

October 10, 2006, 11:53
Lindell V. Riddle

This one, number 42690 from a run numbered 42001-43000 in 1898-1899 production.

21-Jewel Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers movement...

October 10, 2006, 11:54
Lindell V. Riddle


We are now into the 20th Century, the 18-size Ball-Hamiltons continue. Just before the turn
of the century Ball-Waltham 16-size watches were introduced, many changes were coming.

Among the changes, these big 18-size watches would be discontinued in the coming years.

This one is 170249 with another unusual Double-Sunk Dial...

October 10, 2006, 11:54
Lindell V. Riddle

Notice this unusual use of "Adjusted, Single Roller" marking...

October 10, 2006, 11:55
Lindell V. Riddle

Shortly after beginning the 20th Century "Ball & Co." gave way to "The Ball Watch Co."
markings on movements and on most of their dials as designs continually evolved.
Scroll to the bottom of this topic and follow the links for additional information.

Movement number 170704 is a 21-Jewel Official RR Standard...

October 10, 2006, 11:55
Lindell V. Riddle

It is worthwhile to point out this rare 21-Jewel example carries "Ball Watch Co." signature
on both the dial and movement representing the next step in evolution of Ball Markings.

Additional markings would soon join "Adjusted" as shown here...

October 11, 2006, 09:47
Edward L. Parsons, Jr.
Great images Lin, I look forward to seeing the rest of them. Love to see those pierced hands and the cool flourishes on that Railroad Watch Co. signature.

Best Regards,

October 29, 2006, 23:23
Larry Buchan
Advertisments and watches shown in the next six images are from the Larry Buchan Collection.

Here is a Ball advertisement from the December 1895 issue of the Locomotive Engineers Journal it shows
many of his watch inspectors, of special-interest to me is F.F. Bonnett from Columbus, Ohio.

October 29, 2006, 23:42
Larry Buchan
Here is a Ball private-label F.F. Bonnet Columbus, Ohio

October 30, 2006, 00:32
Larry Buchan
Here is a close up of the markings on the dial.

October 30, 2006, 01:17
Larry Buchan
Here is a picture of the movement, it is marked:

November 14, 2006, 18:11
Larry Buchan
Here is another Ball advertisement from February 1897 showing some more Ball agents for a total of 39
but three were gone that appeared on the first list H.C. Graffe, Matoon Illinois, Harvey Fritz of Oil City
Pennsylvania, and Michie Bros. Cincinnati, Ohio.

November 15, 2006, 00:43
Larry Buchan
Here are some more agents from the October 1897 Locomotive Engineers Journal.
This advertisement features another 13 agents for a total of 52 at that point.

October 03, 2008, 20:20
Lindell V. Riddle

More 18-size Ball Watches are shown in these topics...

Ball-Howard, 1890s Beauty

Early Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images

Ball-Elgin (all were 18-size) Images

Later Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images

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