Did you know that the US watch industry has close links to the railroad system? Yes – the railroad system in US was a significant contributor in the story that saw the rise of the US watch industry, in particular, a watch brand called Ball Watch.
In those days, trains were the preferred mode of transport between towns and cities. It was still early days of the adoption of Standard Time, which wasn’t widely accepted or used until much later.
Against this backdrop, a certain man called Webb C. Ball saw the need for improved reliability and accuracy in timekeeping, which propelled the use of a standard timekeeping system and standards for timekeeping devices in the nation.
The events which spurred Webb C. Ball’s seminal contributions began with a fateful event on April 19, 1891. An accident occured involving the collision of two trains in Kipton, a village in the state of Ohio. Both train’s engineers and nine clerks lost their lives in the accident.
Upon investigation, it was found that one of the trains had been instructed to stop to let the other train pass. However, the engineer of the train was oblivious to the fact that his watch had malfunctioned, and stopped for 4 minutes before running again. It was this discrepancy in timekeeping that led to an overestimation of time, and allowed for an unfortunate incident to occur.
The revolution of timekeeping
Driven by the accident, Webb C. Ball set up an investigation team of watchmakers to examine the condition of all the watches worn by the crew. Using his experience as a jeweller who also dealt with horology, he could provide maintenance, checks, and technology for more accurate timekeeping. Appointed as Chief Time Inspector, he set strict rules, forbidding variations of over 30 seconds between the watches.
Ball successfully came up with an inspection system called the “RR Standard” (‘RR’ for ‘railroad’) that improved the consistency and accuracy of timekeeping. Subsequently, it became the first of its kind to be accepted across the board in the US. So reputed was this system that railroad men gained a reputation for being able to tell the correct time.
Today, Ball Watch Company stands as a recognised and respected watch brand in the US and across the world. Despite evolving their products to keep up with consumer demands, Ball Watch has not lost its founding spirit. From the shape of its hands, style of its numerals, and design guidelines, their watches have maintained the original style, while constantly refining their innovations for more reliable, accurate, and durable devices.
If you are looking for a reputable watch dealer to get a stunning Ball watch or luxury swiss watch for yourself, look no further than Leong Poh Kee. Having been in operation since 1931, we have become one of the most trusted watch dealers in Singapore.