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  1. #1

    Default Ball Trainmaster Production Date???

    I own a Ball Trainmaster stainless steel case wrist watch in excellent original condition. The movement and case information are as follows:
    • Model 2821
    • Swiss ETA 25 Jewel
    • Adjusted 5 positions
    • Serial number: 788281
    I have some questions:
    • What is the date of manufacture of this watch?
    • Did this watch come with a glass or acrylic crystal when new?

  2. #2
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: gatelyw)

    I'm rather surprised you haven't had an answer to your question! Perhaps that means that others are like me- no answer, but are reluctant to guess! So here goes, with a guess! Wrist watches began to pop up in railroad service during the early 1960s, but the early ones were Hamilton Electric (shudder), Bulova Accutron 214 and 218, and perhaps a few transistorized ones of the balance wheel type. Then along came the mechanicals such as the Ball Trainmaster, the Elgin B W Raymond, the Cyma, Longines, UG, Zenith, etc. Then the early quartz ones began to pop up, likely in the early 1970s, once they had proven themselves. So, the way I read it, yours would likely be from a 10 year span from, say 1962 to 1972. Anyone care to try to be more specific? The crystal? Plastic! Definitely plastic. Watch styles then required high dome crystals in order to clear the seconds hand. Plastic would likely be about all that would have been available at the time.

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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: doug sinclair)

    I suspect that it could be much newer than that. You can go buy a brand new one today, although the current one appears to have the 21 Jewel ETA 2892-A2 movement, and I suspect Doug's watch is an ETA 2824. I would suggest contacting the company with the serial number in hand.
    Will McCown -- Rolling Hills Estates, CA

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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: flynwill)

    Will, what company would you suggest contacting? :>) I have one of the early Ball Trainmasters using the Eta 2821 automatic movements, and I couldn't find a serial number on the movement....just on the case. I wonder if gatelyw found one on the movement?

    The "old" Ball Co. of Chicago (Lincolnwood) is long gone from the scene. The "new" Ball Co., is, based in Switzerland. Off hand I know next-to-nothing about it, except that Jeff Hess, whose name should be well known to regulars on this MB, is in charge of their operations here in the U.S. I'm really not familiar with all the "new" Ball operations to be able to discuss any of it. Jeff acquired a lot of historic materials and watches from the descendants of Webb C. Ball. Ball's descendants ran the Chicago operations, including the time-service and the later importation and distribution of Ball railroad watches, until they went out of business. Again, I'm not really very familiar with those operations, at least not enough so to be comfortable talking/writing about. I doubt that any of their old records still exist, but if anyone would know, it would be Jeff Hess. I was hoping that Jeff might see this thread and chime in; I have never been in contact with him except on this MB. I don't even have any catalogs or other significant information on the old Ball Co. railroad wrist watches, and don't know when they were produced, or in what quantities.

    BTW, don't forget that before they sold the Official RR Standard Trainmaster using the Eta 2821 automatic 25-jewel movement (and perhaps other calibres that I'm not aware of), they sold a manual-wind version using the A. Schild caliber 1604B, 21-jewel movement with center (sweep) seconds and seconds-setting (hack) feature. I believe that this was probably the first Ball wrist watch to get railroad approval. Interestingly, Elgin eventually dropped their use of a domestic Elgin movement in their 23-jewel B.W. Raymond wrist watch, and switched to the A. Schild 1604B for a new 21-jewel, sweep-seconds version of the B.W. Raymond RR Wrist watch, the same manual-wind movement used in the first Ball RR wrist watch!

    Larry Treiman
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 10-02-2010 at 05:02 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Well Indeed contacting Ball's US offices was exactly what I was suggesting. I (perhaps naively) assumed that when Ball was bought out by the Swiss they kept whatever records existed.
    Will McCown -- Rolling Hills Estates, CA

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: flynwill)

    I did a quick "Google" search for Ball Watch Co, USA, and found quite a bit, including a thread from Watchuseek (I think) on who owns Ball Watch, but it was too convoluted for me to understand. I am not positive, but it is my understanding that Jeff Hess owns Ball Watch USA, but the relationship between Ball Watch USA and the international business, and anything about the business-side of the current operation remains a mystery to me. Over the years, since around 2003, that I have been "hanging around" and later participating in this MB, I have seen a many posts by Jeff, some of them regarding the current Ball operations, so if anyone is sufficiently interested, they might search through his past posts.

    I have had an interest in railroad watches since the late 1960's and especially in Ball. Over the years I had gathered information on Ball with the intention of doing a NAWCC Bulletin article on the subject in collaboration with another cololector. However, the other collector moved away, and over the years much of the information has been turned up by others and has come out, bit by bit, particularly on the internet. In other words, they "stole our thunder"! I no longer feel that it would be worth the trouble to do a comprehensive Ball article, especially since most of the information is now "out there" for anyone with more interest and patience than I have. Besides, I recently dropped out of the NAWCC for personal reasons after about 40 years as a member, and stopped actively doing watch research long before.

    Bottom line: if anyone would be likely to still have the information on the production of Swiss wrist watches for the old Ball Co., of Chicago, or what might have happened to it, it would be Jeff Hess. Contact him! But I don't recall him ever mentioning that he had acquired that kind of information from the Ball family, so don't get your hopes up too high.

    Good luck!

    Larry Treiman
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 10-03-2010 at 04:33 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    Will, what company would you suggest contacting? :>) I have one of the early Ball Trainmasters using the Eta 2821 automatic movements, and I couldn't find a serial number on the movement....just on the case. I wonder if gatelyw found one on the movement?

    The "old" Ball Co. of Chicago (Lincolnwood) is long gone from the scene. The "new" Ball Co., is, based in Switzerland. Off hand I know next-to-nothing about it, except that Jeff Hess, whose name should be well known to regulars on this MB, is in charge of their operations here in the U.S. I'm really not familiar with all the "new" Ball operations to be able to discuss any of it. Jeff acquired a lot of historic materials and watches from the descendants of Webb C. Ball. Ball's descendants ran the Chicago operations, including the time-service and the later importation and distribution of Ball railroad watches, until they went out of business. Again, I'm not really very familiar with those operations, at least not enough so to be comfortable talking/writing about. I doubt that any of their old records still exist, but if anyone would know, it would be Jeff Hess. I was hoping that Jeff might see this thread and chime in; I have never been in contact with him except on this MB. I don't even have any catalogs or other significant information on the old Ball Co. railroad wrist watches, and don't know when they were produced, or in what quantities.

    BTW, don't forget that before they sold the Official RR Standard Trainmaster using the Eta 2821 automatic 25-jewel movement (and perhaps other calibres that I'm not aware of), they sold a manual-wind version using the A. Schild caliber 1604B, 21-jewel movement with center (sweep) seconds and seconds-setting (hack) feature. I believe that this was probably the first Ball wrist watch to get railroad approval. Interestingly, Elgin eventually dropped their use of a domestic Elgin movement in their 23-jewel B.W. Raymond wrist watch, and switched to the A. Schild 1604B for a new 21-jewel, sweep-seconds version of the B.W. Raymond RR Wrist watch, the same manual-wind movement used in the first Ball RR wrist watch!

    Larry Treiman
    My serial number was located on the movement not the case.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: gatelyw)

    Thanks, gatelyw, fortunately I don't need the S.N. I was just curious. I checked again, and looked everywhere visible without taking it apart. The S.N. wasn't under the dial, was it?

    I'm sorry I can't be of help with your questions. Back when the information might have been available, nobody seemed to care about the Ball wrist watches.

    Larry
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 10-04-2010 at 12:57 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    Thanks, gatelyw, fortunately I don't need the S.N. I was just curious. I checked again, and looked everywhere visible without taking it apart. The S.N. wasn't under the dial, was it?

    I'm sorry I can't be of help with your questions. Back when the information might have been available, nobody seemed to care about the Ball wrist watches.

    Larry
    My serial number was on the back of the movement under the internal dust cover which was under the screw off back cover.

    It was right next to all the other information I cited in my original post.

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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: gatelyw)

    Thanks, gatelyw. Nope, no serial number on mine!

    Larry

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    JEFF HESS, I'm just bumping this back to the top where you might see it!

    "Upsy-daisy!"


    Larry

  12. #12

    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Wow. Did not see this believe it or not.

    Let me get out my records and see if I can datethis thing for the gent.

    I obtained a room full of materiel, ephemera, bills, contracts etc from Ball when I took over this deal in the USA from the BAll Family. Stuff going back to 1860's.

    BTW, Ball was the first to be allowed on the roads WAY before the Hamilton electrics. Mid 1960 if memory serves. Then Accutron then ELGIN. Elgin fans often mention that ELGIN was the first AMERICAN wrist watch on the roads.

    The hamilton Electric WAS allowed later but it had a very dismal record.

    I would like to see pics of your watch.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Ball Trainmaster Production Date??? (RE: Jeff Hess)

    Thanks, Jeff,

    I figured that if anyone might have some information on this subject, it would be you. I'll look forward to what you might come up with, but I realize that you have a huge amount of material to go through, so it might not happen over-night!

    Larry

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