BALL Watch Company

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BALL Watch Company
Industry Watchmaking
Founded 1891, Ohio, USA
Founder Webb C. Ball
Headquarters La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Products Swiss Made Mechanical Watches

BALL Watch Company SA is a Swiss watch company based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. It was founded in 1891 by Webb C. Ball in Cleveland, Ohio, and is directly linked to the American railroad history.

BALL's old ad


Before the development of railroads across the United States, there was no need for a standardization of time or any real accuracy in time keeping. Each town kept its own local time, based on the position of the sun. When trains began to connect really distant cities, it got problematic and difficult to avoid collisions. Moreover, there was no policy nor standards for the watches used by the railroad employees.[1]

On April 18, 1891, a head-on collision between two trains in Kipton, Ohio resulted in several human deaths. At the time, trains were using the same lines in opposite directions and had to cross each other at defined crossing points. That day, one of the conductors’ watches stopped for four minutes leading to the fatal collision.
In order to make train rides safer for travelers and employees of the railroads, Webb C. Ball was designated “Chief Time Inspector” and set up tests and standards for all watches used on the trains. Ball’s criteria of accuracy and reliability were so strict that they later inspired others like the Swiss Official Testing Institute (COSC).[2][3][3][4][5][6][7]

Still committed to its original American roots, BALL has located its international headquarters and watchmaking workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

RR Standard[edit]

BALL's old ad

Webb C. Ball set up “RR Standard” (“RR” for Rail Road) to assure a high accuracy and perfect reading to all railroad employees. He also created the BALL Time Service, an after-sale service to which every employee of the rails had to bring his watch every two weeks to make sure the accuracy and reliability of the watch was maximal.

To obtain the “RR Standard” certification, the watches had to follow certain criteria:[2][8]

  • No lid on the dial, size 18 or 16 (44.86mm or 43.17mm)
  • Plain white dial, bold black hands and Arabic numbers
  • Winding stem at 12 o’clock
  • Minimum of 17 jewels
  • Must have a double roller
  • Must be lever set
  • Adjusted to at least 5 positions
  • Be adjusted to temperature 40 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Accuracy with a gain or loss of maximum 30 seconds a week


BALL Watch Company positioned itself as an innovative firm that develops new technologies.

Ball Engineer model Hydrocarbon NEDU day/night

³H micro gas tubes[9]
Every model of the brand is equipped with ³H micro gas tubes on the indexes and hands. This technology allows a perfect visibility in the dark.

Crown protection system[10]
BALL uses a protection system to make sure that no water can get inside the watch and to assure a better protection against shocks.

Amortiser® anti-shock system[11]
The Amortiser® system is an anti-shock system that protects the movement from lateral impacts.

SpringLOCK® system[12]
Tested by the drummer of KISS, Eric Singer, the SpringLOCK® system consists of a "cage" around the balance-spring designed to absorb the energy created by any external impacts.

A-PROOF® system[13]
The patented A-PROOF® system in mu-metal protects a mechanical watch against magnetic fields up to the intensity of 80,000 A/m.

Slide Chronograph[14]
The Slide Chronograph, patented by BALL Watch, includes a circular slide bar fitted around the case that allows to trigger, stop and reset the chronograph in one and the same control integrated in the case at the 9 o'clock position.


BALL Watch has six distinct collections, all inspired by the American railroads.

Engineer Hydrocarbon Ceramic XV
Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime
Engineer II Ohio 40mm
Trainmaster Flying Scotsman
Conductor Vanderbilt Chronograph
Fireman Storcm Chaser DLC Glow
Inspired by the locomotive engineers. The most sophisticated and rugged watches of the company. Tribute to the trains’ engineers. Robust pieces as well as aesthetically functional. Created after the locomotive mechanics. The Engineer II timepieces have a classic design and a natural elegance. Celebration to the railroad masters who supervised the smooth operation of the network. The most classical pieces of the series. An unequal elegance, lightness and simplicity. Salutes the train conductors. The most authentic and faithful to the origins of BALL which first wristwatch was designed based on a "tonneau" shape. Pays homage to the locomotive firemen. This collection consists of robust models with simple designs.

BALL for BMW[edit]

In 2012, BALL Watch Company launched a special collection highly influenced by the automotive industry. The BALL for BMW timepieces reflect the shared values between the two industries.[15]


External links[edit]