Watchuseek Blog

Friday, May 6, 2011


On the ball: Ball Trainmaster One Hundred Twenty

For full size pictures click on image

Ball Watches were the first wrist watches allowed to be used on the Railroads and used a Swiss manual wind movement. They were soon followed by Elgin the first American made wrist watch on “the roads”.

Now headquartered in Neuchatel, Switzerland, Ball Watches used other watch companies’ movements, perfecting them and then reselling them.

They also ordered watches complete from other watch companies.

They used movements from the top American manufacturers, Elgin, Hamilton, and Waltham, and switched to Swiss movements as early as the 1940s in their wristwatches

This family owned watch company was owned by direct descendants until the 1990s when the right to use the name was sold. The new firm continues the tradition, using Swiss-made (primarily ETA) movements and making watches for sportsmen and even for some small railroads.

The 1891 Kipton railroad accident


In April 1891 there was a collision between Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway trains at Kipton, Ohio, which occurred because an engineer’s watch had stopped.

Several people were killed and as a result the railroad officials commissioned Webb C. Ball as their Chief Time Inspector, in order to establish precision standards and a reliable timepiece inspection system for railroad chronometers.

This lead to the creation of the Ball Time Service.

Ball Time Service

Ball established strict guidelines for the pocket watch for the manufacturing of sturdy, reliable precision timepieces, including resistance to magnetism, reliability of time keeping in 5 positions, isochronism, power reserve and dial arrangement, accompanied with record keeping of the reliability of the watch on each regular inspection.

He’s on the ball


Following the guidelines Webb C. Ball introduced, train time accuracy was so good people were setting their watches by the train, and Ball’s name became synonymous with timeliness.

Phrases such as “He’s on the Ball” were coined.

Ball Trainmaster One Hundred Twenty



Today the Ball Watch Company celebrates 120 years of accuracy with the Trainmaster One Hundred Twenty.

Combining a dressy look, a solid 18K gold case, and Ball watches trademark micro gas tubes for excellent night time visibility.

The case measures 39.5mm in diameter. The slightly domed dial is finished with a sunray pattern that catches light from every angle and is available in grey or silver. Below the dial, an automatic ETA caliber 2892 decorated with circular damask keeps the time.



Self-powered micro-gas tubes on the hands and hour markers double as a nightlight.

And despite the elegance, this watch is tough – it’s shock resistant to 5000 Gs.

The Trainmaster One Hundred Twenty is priced at around US$8,147.

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