Old Ball

Thread: Old Ball

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Old Ball

    I have been looking for a new watch for a while now and have always had a soft place for Ball time pieces. My father was a locomotive engineer and handed me his Ball 999B Pocket Watch when he retired. It's in perfect running order and has the wear and tear that so many of these pocket watches had while in active service. It is priceless to me. I use it on special occasions and keep it cleaned and lubed.

    I'm also a locomotive engineer with nearly 30 years of service and as I get older, my short vision has deteriorated, especially at night. The tritium gas has the luminescence I'm looking for, at least that's how I'm selling it to myself. I just need to decide on the model.

    In days gone by, railway men had to have a certified watch examined by a watch inspector every 6 months as train movements required careful timings to avoid mishaps. These inspections were done in my time of railroading, but not anymore. Railroads in North America have for the most part become safer and more modernized to avoid human time errors. Having a certified railway grade watch is no longer required by most carriers.

    I will be acquiring a new Ball watch mostly for nostalgic reasons, but my intention is that it will be used as a functioning watch for train movements. Enjoy the attached picture of the works inside a Ball 999B Railway Pocket Watch.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Sydney, Australia

    Re: Old Ball

    Wow, that is just amazing. Not only do you have a classic old Ball, but it is a family watch as well!

    Thanks for taking the time to post these shots (how about a few more, please!). Good luck in your hunt for a new Ball. Tough choice; they have a lot of great models, but one will "speak" to you (as the TZers say).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Newmarket, NH

    Re: Old Ball

    I'm delighted that a railroad engineer has found the Ball Forum.
    Shadowfax, your Dad's 999B is a beauty. What stories it could tell.
    What first drew me to modern Ball Watches was the heritage.
    I've always been interested in RRs. As a high school student in the early sixties, I rode several times behind Burlington's last two operational steam locomotives - the 5632 and the 4960 - on rail fan excursions out of Chicago.
    I plan one day to buy a vintage Ball pocket watch, but all I've done so far is to wait and watch their prices rise. Of course yours is priceless.
    I hope you're near an AD so that you can see and handle these extraordinary watches. Let us know your thoughts.
    Please don't hesitate asking questions here. Although new, this forum is bound to grow as have Ball Watch sales.
    Jim in NH

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  5. #4
    Member sukispop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Northern California

    Thumbs Up Re: Old Ball

    Hi Shadowfax,

    Welcome to Watchuseek and the Ball Forum!

    Thank you for sharing the pics of your Ball 999B Pocket Watch. :thanks

    What a wonderful gift for your dad to give to you...a treasure being passed from father to son, railway man to railway man. Thanks for sharing something so special with us.

    There are many great Ball models to consider, and I know that you'll have fun deciding between them. Please keep us posted.
    Take care,

    Damasko DA36 Black
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    Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Ti "Mad Cow"
    Omega Seamaster Professional 300m LE "America's Cup"
    Seiko Black Monster w/Yobokies Anvil bracelet
    Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual SS(wedding gift)

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Re: Old Ball

    Hi Shadofax,

    Wow those are really nice pictures!! It's so cool to actually see the watches that were produced by Ball all the way back then!
    - TY -

  7. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Re: Old Ball

    What I really admire about these old mechanical watches is that they were produce fifty or sixty years ago, many are even older than that, and they were required to be accurate to within 30 seconds per/day while in active service.

    High end, modern mechanical watches are not substantially better in that regard. If a modern watch is within 15 seconds per/day, I understand that is acceptable. It's a real testament to the craftsmen of years gone by, and their ability to create these timepieces to such exacting standards.

    I'm currently using a Bulova railway grade watch, that my father gave to me when I hired on as a railway brakeman. It has 30 years of abuse knocked into it as well. I've attached pictures of it too, although its not really Ball watch related, just part of the story. As a matter of fact, he also left me a mechanical Grandfather clock when he passed on. He must have been concerned with me always being late!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #7

    Re: Old Ball

    your ball pocket has a quite scarce 24 hour dial! congrats!

  9. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Re: Old Ball

    Well thank you for that. I had no idea what the numbers meant! And even by todays standards, 112 mph is fast for a train. What a great resource this website has turned out to be.

  10. #9
    Member ballwatch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Cleveland, Ohio

    A bit more to the story!

    Actually, there's quite a bit more to the Empire State Express story!

    Webb C. Ball was responsible for the timing and schedule of the train. He knew the Vanderbilts and they asked him to help them break the land speed record. They wanted to beat 100mph and they wanted Ball to help them do it.

    He planned out the schedule to maximize the speed, and at 112.5 mph, the 999 was the new fastest vehicle in the world!

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianS View Post
    I was just reading on the internet that your Ball 999 watch is named after a famous train called the Empire State Express that carried the number 999. This train ran from Buffalo to Syracuse New York in the late 1800's, and it was the fastest train in existence at the time pulling 4 cars at 112mph!

    Mr. Ball liked the best of the best technology and this is why he named his best movement/watch after the train.

    #999 - The Empire State Express!

    Photo from Wikipedia

    ...needs to update his signature line.
    July 08 Newsletter: New World Record for Guillaume Néry, Diver GMT, Aviator
    Baselworld 2008 Newsletter: Guillaume Néry, Trieste Chronograph, Moonlight Special
    Click to view the BALL Engineer Master II Diver TMT.

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