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  1. #1

    Default Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research

    Waltham produced the movements of the first Ball Official RR Service watches sold in 16 size. These movements are included in the Waltham serial number listing (Gray Book) as 9060701 – 1100 having 23 jewels and being lever set. Ball numbered these 400 watches B060701 – 1100. Contrary to the Waltham listing, most known examples of the watches have 17 jewels and, surprisingly for railroad grade 16 size watches, a good proportion are arranged for pendant setting.


    I have seen photographs of just a few surviving examples from this first run of 16 size Ball ORRS watches (all 17J), as follows:
    B060706 - Pendant Set
    B060713 – Pendant Set
    B060771 – Setting unknown
    B060812 – Pendant Set
    B060842 – Setting unknown
    B060863 – Lever Set
    B061018 – Setting unknown
    B061060 – Pendant Set
    B061063 – Setting unknown
    B061099 – Setting unknown
    It is interesting that at least one movement in this first run is lever set.


    Additionally, I have a record of a reported sighting of B060915 having 23 jewels, setting unknown.


    If anyone can add to this information it would be of great interest. Considering the special place occupied by these watches in the history of railroad time service, they are well worthy of study.

  2. #2

    Smile Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    John:

    Here are some more:

    B060768 - Pendant Set
    B060773 - Pendant Set
    B060809 - Lever Set (Reported, but not seen by KLS)
    B060841 - Pendant Set
    B060842 - Pendant Set
    B060869 – Setting unknown
    B060915 - Lever Set
    B060972 - Pendant Set
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: Kent)

    Kent:


    Good information!


    I have amalgamated the two lists:
    B060706 - Pendant Set
    B060713  Pendant Set
    B060768 - Pendant Set
    B060771  Setting unknown
    B060773 - Pendant Set
    B060809 - Lever Set (Reported, but not seen by KLS)
    B060812  Pendant Set
    B060841 - Pendant Set
    B060842  Pendant Set
    B060863  Lever Set
    B060869  Setting unknown
    B060915 - Lever Set
    B060972 - Pendant Set
    B061018  Setting unknown
    B061060  Pendant Set
    B061063  Setting unknown
    B061099  Setting unknown

    The list has become quite respectable  17 watches, now. Based on my understanding of the collective wisdom of a range of knowledgeable collectors (certainly including yourself), I would expect that 20 or 30 watches should survive from a run of 400. If so, we have some way to go and it is to be hoped that other readers will be able to come forward with additional information.


    It is particularly interesting to find that several watches (18%, so far) are lever set, considering that it seems to have been widely assumed that all movements from this run were pendant set. It would appear that all 400 watches were produced as we have records of the sixth and the second last, with a good spread in between.


    Kent, do you have definite information as to the jeweling of B060915, please? Does it really have 23 jewels?


    Thanks, again.


    John

  4. #4

    Smile Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbscott View Post
    Kent: ... Based on my understanding of the collective wisdom of a range of knowledgeable collectors (certainly including yourself), I would expect that 20 or 30 watches should survive from a run of 400. ...
    My estimate is more than ten times that amount. I used to think that the survival rate was 90% or better, but I'm now willing to concede that it may be as low as 80% in some instances.


    ... Kent, do you have definite information as to the jeweling of B060915, please? Does it really have 23 jewels? ...
    I only know what I see in Complete Price Guide to Watches, No 14, C. Shugart and R. Gilbert, Cooksey Shugart Publications, Cleveland, TN, 1994, page 144. It also appears in the current edition on page 156. I'm sure its in other editions as well.
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  5. #5

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: Kent)

    It looks as though we historians and collectors have some way to go to achieve a full appreciation of these Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run watches. All information will be welcome.


    To assist people to know what we are dealing with, here are a couple of movement photographs showing B060863.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    John

    Great topic, my Pendent set Ball-Waltham is listed in Kent's reply already.

    A worthwhile and interesting topic, Hopefully more folks with these early Ball &Co Waltham Ball watches reply with their serial numbers and Pendent or Lever set configuration.

    Thanks for starting it.


    John

  7. #7

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: JohnL)

    Thanks, John.

    These Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run watches are now more than 110 years old. They appear to have been introduced to the marketplace by Ball late in 1901. The Waltham date of their movements is 1899 but some time needs to be allowed between the Waltham date and the sale date. The numbers would have been allocated in a block and possibly not all 400 movements issued at once. The movements then had to go to Ball for adjustment, assembly into watches and finally distribution for sale.


    The earliest advertisement for Ball 16s ORRS watches known, so far, is that reproduced, below. Canadian expert Larry Buchan found it in the Railroad Trainmen's Journal for December 1901. Note that the watch was promoted as having an improved safety double roller and 17 jewels.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    John -

    Have you done any research into the cases of watches in this run? I know a few of the examples I've owned have been in basically the same case.
    Fred Hansen
    NAWCC #109682

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: Fred Hansen)

    Fred, thank you for your question. Your input about casing (or any other aspect) would be greatly appreciated.

    After a century of hard use (and switching) the earliest Ball 16s ORRS watches are not commonly found in their original cases. Accordingly, the original style and appearance of these pioneer Ball 16s railroad watches is not widely understood.

    Fortunately, Ball issued pocket size catalog booklets and the 1901 booklet gives us clues as to the casing of these first run 16s ORRS watches. The image of pages from the 1901 catalog, below, comes to us courtesy of member John La Cambria.

    Firstly, we are told that this was Sold as a Complete Watch Only. Whether this means that those early cases were marked Ball Model is another matter and the answer is not definitely known.

    All of the movements of the first run were for open face casing. As will be seen, there were three basic choices of case type, although variations of decoration were available within these basic groupings. The three case types were:
    - Silveroid, gold trimmed with gold inlaid shields;
    - gold filled (32% extra);
    - solid gold (137% extra).

    Because of the pricing, it can be surmised that a high proportion of these watches would have been sold in silveroid cases.

    Any collector fortunate enough to come across one of these special movements might give consideration to the foregoing when it comes to casing.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    Hopefully the pics come through here, but this is the case I typically see. Pendent-set movement serial B060842, hinged plain finish gold-filled Keystone J. Boss case not marked "Ball Model" serial 6558710. Note no lever-set slot on the case and the distinctive shape of the case neck and bow.














    I think if you record cases on examples that appear likely original you will run into more examples of this case, and it would be interesting to track this case data and serial numbers.
    Fred Hansen
    NAWCC #109682

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: Fred Hansen)

    Fred

    That is most useful, thank you. Beautiful photographs, as always.

    I note that the sealed outer ends of the bow pin tubes on your case are vertical, as shown in the Ball literature. The later cases have the ends slanting downwards and inwards, a little. A small detail but it stands out when you have become aware of it.

    It is fascinating that the "Ball Model" marking is not present on those cases. It leads me to wonder whether that began with the introduction, a few years later, of the 20th Century Model (both 16s and 18s) and the possibly coincidental alteration of the plate inscription to "Ball Watch Co" - but that is another subject.

    Have you seen the right style of silveroid case with inlaid gold shied but with the "Ball Model" marking absent? I have seen them with the "Ball Model" marking present (and a setting lever slot).

  12. #12

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    Here are photographs of B060863 in its assigned (not original) silveroid inlaid gold shield case. This Keystone case No. 8538168 is marked “Ball Model” (below the case-maker’s markings) and it has a setting lever slot. The intention is to provide an impression of the correct appearance of one of these First Run 16s Ball ORRS watches as originally cased by Ball according to the silveroid option.

    It is a little surprising that of this run of 400 movements we have records of no more than seventeen being in existence.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    A note on the hands and dials of these first run Ball-Waltham ORRS watches may be of interest. Both of these important identifying features of a watch were fitted by Ball following receipt of the completed but, as yet, unadjusted movement from Waltham. Ball did the adjusting and final casing, too.


    Hands
    All three hands were as shown fitted to B060863 in the first pair of photographs, above. The hour and minute hands are of the double swell form (not whiplash), typical of Ball, but a little finer than those fitted to later Ball watches. These early Ball hands were tempered to a brown colour whereas the later hands were blue (or even black). The second hand has the tadpole shape that is characteristic of these watches.


    Dials
    The dial was distinctive and was as illustrated several times, above. Like the movement, the dial inscription included the words Ball & Co whereas the later dials and movements were inscribed Ball Watch Co..

    The numerals were of gothic form but they were of a finer design that the later Ball dial gothic numerals. The numerals of these early Ball dials were followed by several other numeral styles before the eventual reversion to the (heavier) gothic style, several years later. There were ten or, possibly, eleven designs of ORRS dial fitted to Ball-Waltham watches, in all. Interestingly, none of the watches in the first run seems to have been fitted with a Brotherhood dial according to evidence available, so far.


    A most distinctive feature of the dial markings on the early Ball-Waltham dials was the positioning of the RR marking between the words Official and Standard. The RR marking appears to be offset to the right and does not appear to be perfectly correct. Such appearance would definitely not have been intended by Ball and it was eradicated after the first very few years. However, this feature is a handy identifier of the early dials for collectors, today.


    It should be noted that the hands and dials described here were not peculiar to the first run that is the subject of this thread. They also appeared on several subsequent runs but it seems that they were the only ones to appear on the first run. There followed rapid evolution of design details during the early years of the twentieth century and that is another interesting subject of study.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: johnbscott)

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbscott View Post
    [Note: Edited by LT to show only the portion of the post pertinent to this reply.]

    Hands

    All three hands were as shown fitted to B060863 in the first pair of photographs, above. The hour and minute hands are of the double swell form (not whiplash), typical of Ball, but a little finer than those fitted to later Ball watches. These early Ball hands were tempered to a brown colour whereas the later hands were blue (or even black). The second hand has the tadpole shape that is characteristic of these watches.

    John, this has been a most interesting thread, as Ball watches have been one of my major interests for nearly 45 years. I regret that I cannot add anything regarding the first run of 16-size Waltham Ball watches but I want to thank you for starting this thread.

    One minor point that I would like to mention is that the hour and minute hands on B060863 are both what I would call medium (?) spade hands and appear to be absolutely correct, based on the ad and catalog illustrations that you posted and on the 1892 Ball catalog reproduced by the late Roy Ehrhardt in one of his price guides. They are not "double swell" hands, which I believe were made only in minute hands and were used in conjunction with spade hour hands.

    The minute hand on Ball s.n. B060842, posted by Fred Hansen in post #10, is an example of a double swell hand, as used with a spade hour hand. However, I would question whether it is original to that watch. For one thing, all illustrations of Ball watches from that period show spade hour and minute hands. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing an illustration of a Ball watch with the double swell minute hands, though they do show up on the actual watches, probably as replacements. I stand to be corrected if anyone can show me a Ball illustration (not a photo of an actual watch) with a double swell minute hand. Also, the minute hand on Fred's B060842 does appear to be somewhat disproportionately heavy for the hour hand, albeit very slightly so.


    Larry Treiman
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 11-08-2012 at 02:19 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ball-Waltham ORRS First Run Research (By: Larry Treiman)

    Larry

    I do appreciate your commendation and input.

    I have no disagreement, whatsoever, with the useful points that you have made. I may have misinterpreted the term "double swell" although I am sure I have seen Ball hands thus described - possibly incorrectly. Also possible, it would seem to me, is an interpretation to the effect that "spade" is a sub-group of "double swell" - but I am not sure. If so, then whiplash hands, such as the non-original minute hand shown (so well) on B060842, would be another sub-group.

    Suffice to say, as we all well know, the Ball hands, especially the minute hands, were spade hands of a particularly appealing form. Webb C Ball evidently had an artistic eye that we still appreciate, today.

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