Engineer, Fireman, Trainmaster, Conductor... these names for the Ball Watch Co. collections trace back to the company’s origins and evoke the glorious age when trains puffing smoke and steam crisscrossed America. Back then, the pocket watch was a necessity to maintain precise rail schedules. By 1893, many companies had adopted the General Railroads Timepiece Standards, which included suck norms as regulation in at least five positions, prevision to within thirty seconds per week, Breguet balance springs, and so on. One of the chief players in developing the standards was Webster Clay ball. This farmboy-turned-watchmaker from Fredericktown, Ohio, decided to leave the homestead for a more lucrative occupation. He apprenticed as a watchmaker, became a salesperson for Dueber watch cases, and finally opened the Webb C. Ball Company in Cleveland. In 1891, he added the position of chief inspector of the Lake Shore Lines to his CV. When a hogshead’s watch stopped resulting in an accident, Ball decided to establish quality benchmarks for watches that included antimagnetic technology, and he set up an inspection system for the timepieces.

Today, Ball Watch Co. has maintained its lineage, although now producing in Switzerland. These rugged, durable watches aim to “accurate in adverse conditions,” so the company tagline says – and at a very good price. Functionality remains a top priority, so Ball will go to special lengths to work special technologies into its timepieces, for instance. And it is one of few brands to use tritium gas tubes to light up dials, hands and markers. For those who need to read the time accurately in dark places – divers, pilots, commandos, hunters, etc. – this is essential.

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