Watch's origin: American
Number of jewels: 19
Case: Keystone/J. Boss
Manufacturer: Ball Watch Company
Type of Watch: Pocket
Webster Clay Ball (October 6, 1847 – March 6, 1922) was a jeweler and watchmaker born in Fredericktown, Ohio. When Standard Time was adopted in 1883, he was the first jeweler to use time signals from the United States Naval Observatory, bringing accurate time to Cleveland.
In 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. Ball had earned a reputation for perfection in timekeeping along the Cleveland routes and was an obvious choice for railroad officials as their first "Chief Time Inspector"; charged with establishing precision standards and a reliable timepiece inspection system for railroad chronometers nationwide.
Later, Ball established his own watch company dedicated to "the best of the best." Ball Watch Company ordered movements — to his exacting specifications — from highly-regarded watch companies in the U.S. and Switzerland. Specially-marked and damaskeened movements were ordered from top American manufacturers Elgin, Hamilton, and Waltham as well as from Swiss manufacturers Audemars Piguet, Gallet, Longines and Vacheron Constantin. These movements met the highest standards in commercial watchmaking and were quite expensive – and sought-after – even during their manufacture and use.
On Feb. 10, 1907, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers honored his efforts by appointing Ball as an honorary member.
Today, Ball Watch Company models are some of the most prize railroad watches available.
We've offered a few rare Ball models over the years, but few rarer than this Ball-Illinois gentleman's pocket watch with enameled bezel and rotating seconds bit. Accompanied by an equally rare and mesmeric mechanical fob and chain, the watch represents all that is impressive and genteel about the Golden Age of American horology.
Please take a moment to admire the images of special order Ball-Illinois movement of this timepiece, as they illustrate one of the most stunning examples of 20th century horological engineering one could fine. It's such a beautiful mechanism, machined to such exacting standards that it's humbling to consider today.
Dial, case movement – all are completely original to this watch as it emerged from a New England estate in period presentation box.
We've hand-polished the case; cleaned, oiled and calibrated the movement. If you're looking for an refined means to tell the time, you've found it!