Ball 21J adj. 5p Official R.R. Standard model #1604B wrist watch, case #469630, impressive vintage mechanical manual-wind nickel bridge movement with a raised center bridge over the train, bold red ruby jewels and a bar-style damascene pattern, mint white hard enamel dial with bold black Arabic-style numbers, black minute markers and is marked "Ball Official RR Standard" on the upper half, fancy black steel whip-style hands and a red sweep second hand, heavy smooth polish round water-resistant stainless steel (SS) case with a narrow bezel supporting a domed glass crystal, tall side frame and lightly faceted long extended lugs, case is showing normal light wear overall but does have a few heavier scratches on the back from improper attempts to open the case back, measures approx. 34mm in diameter x 44mm lug to lug x 10mm thick (crystal included), heavily textured black leather band. An impressive, RR approved wrist watch from the mid-1900s in excellent+ condition!
- Year Made: mid 1900s
- Jewels: 0721J
- Setting/Movement Type:
- Adjustments: 5 positions
- Model/Grade: Official R.R. Standard model #1604B
- Serial #: (case) #469630
- Movement Finish: nickel
- Movement Details: bridge layout
- Dial Material: hard enamel
- Dial Color: white
- Dial Details: marked "Ball Official RR Standard"
- Hand Style:
whip, sweep second hand
- Case Style:
- Case Details: water resistant (WR)
Case Width, without crown:
34mm (1.34 inches)
Case Length, lug to lug:
44mm (1.73 inches)
10mm (0.39 inches)
Interior Lug Width:
7in. to 7.99in.
(measurement range includes watch length & band)
- Band Material: leather strap
- Crystal Material: glass
The Ball Watch Company, out of Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1879, but it was after a tragic train collision in 1891 (due to what is believed to have been a problem with one engineer's watch not keeping accurate time) that the company began the task of standardizing what we now term Railroad Grade Watches. This detailed article
about the collision discusses the event, and the lasting repercussions to our modern transit and timekeeping systems.
In 1893, Ball sold their first watches; however, it is an interesting note to this company that they never manufactured a watch, but rather had specific timing and design guidelines for watches that were then produced by the following other companies: Aurora, Elgin, Hamilton, Hampden, N.Y. Watch, E. Howard, Illinois, Seth Thomas,Vacheron & Constantin and Waltham. While many of these companies produced high grade and railroad grade quality watches for their own sales, the watches produced for the Ball company were standardized for both mechanical and cosmetic features, and were not representative of each of the individual company aesthetics.
The Ball company continued to sell Ball Model watches until 1969, and was also a driving factor in helping to standardize timing specifications across North America as technologies improved.
For additional reference, we've posted a Serial Number Production List
which includes information for Ball serial numbers and dates of manufacture.
The NAWCC also has a comprehensive article
about the company; additional information may also be found on Wikipedia
You may browse all of our men's pocket watches from this manufacturer at our Vintage Men's Ball Pocket Watches
This watch is in good running condition, unless otherwise noted in the description. This means that on receipt, pending any item-specific running conditions noted in the description, you can expect the watch to be winding and setting properly and to run smoothly while keeping reasonable time. We consider "reasonable time" to meet these basic guidelines:
- Railroad Grade Watches will be keeping +/- 5 minutes per day
- Pocket and Wrist Watches with 15 or more jewels will be keeping +/- 10 minutes per day
- All key wind watches and watches with 14 or fewer jewels will be keeping +/- 15 minutes per day
The above guideline is the lowest standard in which we would ship out a watch, however in most cases, you will see much better timekeeping. Most of our watches have been in storage for many years, so if you plan on carrying/wearing them everyday, you should consider having them cleaned and oiled soon, and then once a year thereafter to keep them in top running condition. If the watches will be for occasional use or display, they should be cleaned and serviced every 3 to 5 years depending on use.
As of May 29th, 2023, we are not offering a cleaning and service option through PM Time Service. While we do hope to offer this again in the future, we are unfortunately unable to meet customer requests for watch servicing at this time. Please note that, unless otherwise mentioned within the "Full Description" tab, this watch is being sold in good running condition and is ready to wear or carry on arrival.
Unlike modern quartz watches, most vintage watches need daily winding in order to keep the watch functioning for timekeeping. Additionally, there are a number of different ways to set the time other than simply pulling the crown away from the watch body. We are happy to provide an overview of each of the different setting types on our "How To Use" page
, where we also provide information on proper winding techniques for each style and some suggestions for the proper long term care and storage of your watch.
For your gift giving convenience, please find a consolidated overview of the information on this item, with no reference to the price, on this printer-optimized page