Ball Watch Company

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Ball Watch Company is a Swiss watchmaker derived from a historic American company.

History

See also: Railway watch

Webb C. Ball was the originator of the Ball Watch Company. His original jewelry business in Cleveland grew into the Ball Watch Company (currently headquartered in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), which used other watch companies' movements, perfecting them and then reselling them. Ball Watch Company also ordered watches complete from other watch companies. Ball used movements from the top American manufacturers, Elgin, Hamilton, and Waltham, and switched to Swiss Avia movements as early as the 1940s in their wristwatches. The Waltham Watch Company complied immediately with the requirements of Ball's guidelines, later followed by Elgin National Watch Company and most of the other American manufacturers: Aurora, Hamilton, Hampden, E. Howard & Co., Illinois, Seth Thomas, later on joined by some Swiss watch manufacturers: Audemars Piguet, Gallet, Longines, Record Watch, Vacheron Constantin.

Webb C. Ball became the vice president of the Hamilton Watch Company and focused his efforts on developing watches for the railroads. Minutes of Proceedings of Third Triennial Convention of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers held in the B of LE Auditorium Cleveland, Ohio on May 31, 1921 at 2 PM the convention was called to order by Grand Chief Engineer W.S. Stone, at this afternoon session Webb C Ball was introduced, he made a speech, and a resolution was passed unanimously, and he was made an Honorary Member of the Brotherhood.

They were the first wrist watch allowed to be used on the Railroads, (using a Swiss manual-winding movement) followed quickly by the first American made wrist watch on "the roads", Elgin.

The firm was family owned by direct descendants until the 1990s when the right to use the name was sold. The new firm continues the tradition, using Swiss-made (primarily ETA) movements and making watches for sportsmen and even for some small railroads. Working with German auto manufacturer, BMW, Ball created the Ball for BMW line. Many of the company's modern designs are by Magali Métrailler, formerly of Jaeger-LeCoultre. In 2016, Ball announced that Patrick Labs, a technical spin-off, would produce Calibre RRM1101, Ball's first "manufacture" movement.

Movements

Main article: Ball calibres

Ball gives their movements custom names, and changed their naming system in 2012. All are based on movements from ETA, though some feature a range of modifications by Ball and their suppliers.