Well, this is an Hamilton, and it isn't... Webb C. ball of Cleveland, Ohio, was the general time inspector for a large chunk of the railroad in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was Ball who was originally commissioned by the railroad officials to develop the standards for railroad approved watches. The Ball Watch Company [est. 1879] didn't produce any watches itself, but instead took high grade watches manufactured by other companies and placed its stamp of approval on them. One interesting note is that Ball was not a fan of highly jewelled watches, feeling that anything beyond 17 or 19 jewels was unnecessary. As other companied began producing 21 and 23 jewel watches and demand for them grew, however, Ball also began marketing higher jewelled watches.

This particular watch is an 18 Size Hamilton Ball Model #999 with 17 jewels. It is stem wind and lever set and is housed in a nice nickel swing-out railroad case made by the Crescent Watch Case Company. The movement is marked "TRADE MARK OFFICIAL RR STANDARD", "THE BALL WATCH CO. CLEVELAND", SAPPHIRE PALLETS", "17 JEWELS", "SAFETY PINION", "ADJUSTED", "PATENTED NOV. 17, 96" [on the barrel bridge] and "PAT. AUG 18, 96" [on the balance cock]. The serial number is 170026, which dates it to about 1901.


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