Ball-Hamilton 16S 21J lever set (LS) adj. 5p Official RR Standard grade 999 pocket watch #B647722, attractive nickel split plate movement with screw-down raised gold jewel settings, gold center wheel and a tight concentric circle damascene pattern, porcelain enamel dial with bold boxcar-style Arabic numbers, black ball 5 minute markers and a black marked subsidiary seconds register has a few small flakes around the seconds bit however no hairlines, blue steel spade style hands, heavy yellow gold filled (YGF) Ball Official RR Standard screw back & bezel (SB&B) case with vertical line engraving behind the diagonal floral banners and fancy blank monogram shield on the back, geometric designs engraved on the bezels, heavy shoulders with a recessed crown and a heavy stirrup-style bow, case is showing normal even wear overall with some smoothing to the back case engraving, a small shallow depression on the back cover, some thin spots of brass starting to show on the frame, front bezel and top of the bow and a small gap on the back cover between the lip of the case and frame, likely the result of an attempt to open the case with a knife rather than screw the cover off, measures approx. 51mm in diameter x 65mm in length x 15mm thick (crystal included). A high grade, attractive vintage triple signed railroad grade Ball watch from the 1930s in excellent overall condition!
- Year Made: 1938-1939
- Company: Ball-Hamilton
- Jewels: 21J
- Setting/Movement Type:
- Adjustments: 5 positions
- Model/Grade: Official RR Standard grade 999
- Serial #: B647722
- Movement Finish: nickel
- Movement Details: gold jewel settings (GJS), screw-down jewel settings, gold center wheel
- Dial Material: porcelain enamel
- Dial Details: boxcar-style numbers
- Hand Style:
- Case Style:
Gold Filled - Yellow
- Case Details: Ball "Official RR Standard" model, stirrup-style bow
Case Length, bow included:
- Crystal Material: plastic
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 about the company.
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 December 9th, 2022, 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.
This watch comes complete with an appropriate, intact plastic crystal; however, on request PM Time Service can replace the current crystal on this pocket watch for you. We offer a number of new and vintage crystal choices for pocket watches; you can select your desired choice from the dropdown menu below.
Please note that the average turnaround time for all pocket watch crystal replacements will be two days from the placement of the order.
with any further questions or for an estimate on any shipping delays.
Please note: if you add this watch with a crystal and/or band exchange option to your shopping cart
but later change your mind on the crystal and/or band selection type, you'll need to remove the watch from the cart in order to make a new selection. Once that is done, you can return to this page and add that new crystal and/or band combination to the cart. We apologize for the limitations to our system that prevent you from making that change within the shopping cart.
This is considered a "railroad-grade" pocket watch. To be a railroad-grade watch, the following criteria must be met:
- be 16S or 18S
- have 17 or more jewels
- be lever set
- be in an open face case
- be adjusted to 5 or more positions.
- have easily-legible Arabic dial numerals
In order to ensure the accuracy of pocket watches used by railroad employees, with the ultimate goal of preventing train accidents, the General Railroad Timepiece Standards Commission published a set of guidelines for railroad companies and watch manufacturers in 1893. These guidelines, which specified the criteria for a railroad-grade watch, were prepared by Webb C. Ball, the general time inspector of North American railroads and founder of the Ball Watch Company.
For more information, visit this Wikipedia article
on railroad chronometers or this Smithsonian National Postal Museum article
on the influential train wreck tragedy that resulted in the establishment of railroad watch standards.
Our entire collection of such timepieces may also be viewed at our Railroad Grade Watches
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