Timepiece Design: Ball Watch

Classic design and beautiful craftsmanship are the features every collector looks for in a fine watch. Ball Watch companies timepieces are no exception. I am certain you have heard the expression “on the ball”, as in “that guy is on the ball”, meaning the person is alert, competent, or efficient. Ever wonder where it came from?April 18th, 1891 a local passenger train collided with a fast mail train in Kipton, Ohio. The event took the lives of eight people and was eventually dubbed The Great Kipton Train Wreck. Legend has it one of the engineer’s watches was 4 minutes slow and this discrepancy was later found to be the route cause of the fatal crash. Some still argue about the watch being slow, but due to this wreck on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, the General Superintendent of the Lake Shore Line appointed Webster Clay Ball as Chief Inspector to investigate time keeping.

Ball was a Cleveland jeweler with the reputation of being able to fix just about any watch. As a direct result of his investigation of railroad timekeeping, he instituted watch performance and inspection standards in 1893. Subsequently he became Chief Time Inspector for many railroads and had many American manufacturers (Howard, Waltham, Elgin, Hamilton & Hampden), produce a quality railroad timekeeper: the Ball Railroad Watch. Many of the aforementioned watch manufacturers produced railroad grade watches, but Ball watches were considered to be the best, the Cadillac of American railroad watches.It is also important to note that Ball’s successful system was the first to be accepted on a broad scale. It was his system that set the standards for the railroads and helped establish accuracy and uniformity in timekeeping. It was his system that resulted in railroad time and railroad watches being recognized as STANDARD, whenever accuracy in time was required.”In general, it becomes accepted that when the average person asks a railroad man the time, he is assured it is correct.” Fast forward to 2005. The Ball name has been revived and now produces a staggering array of railroad inspired watches, which would surely have made its namesake proud. From the classically designed Trainmaster to the avant-garde Inspector moon-glow, which features the world’s first illuminated calendar display; there is a watch for every pallet. The subject of this review is the Engineer Master II diver. An adventure watch that is unafraid to be different, combining extreme ruggedness with sporting good looks, but is it on the ball? Keep reading to find out!