What went on behind the doors of the Ball Watch Co. ?

Old rookie

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Webb Ball carved out a niche for himself and his companies but what was done to say a Hamilton movement that was already RRG?
 

DeweyC

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There is Hamilton/Ball correspondence that indicates Ball bought "almost finished" movements which were then stripped down and finished to his standards. I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency.

I think the records exist to inform this question but I do not know where they reside.
 

Clint Geller

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As is well known, Ball specified various modifications to the private label movements he purchased from various US manufacturers. At least many of these modifications seem to have been fairly superficial, in order to make the Ball movements a bit more distinctive relative to the manufacturer's standard products. In the case of the Ball Howard movements, these were the first Howard stemwind movements to be finished with 17 jewels and Breguet overcoil hairsprings, which I consider to be more than a superficial modification. The Howard split plates, which shared these finishing features, came out about a year later. The Ball Howard movements also had one of two distinctive damaskeening patterns - one for the ORC movements, and one for the B of LE movements - which were rarely seen on other Howard products. In the Howard factory records the Ball Howard movements are listed as either "Grade 9 special," or no grade is listed, rather than "Grade 10," which is the normal designation for a fully adjusted, nickel stremwind movement with 17 jewels and Breguet hairspring. EH&Co was known to be outsourcing some of their final movement adjusting in this period, which leads to the likely possibility that the final positional adjusting of their Ball movements was completed by Ball's own bench watchmakers. This seems also to have been the case with some of the 17-jewel split plate movements EH&Co sold shortly after the Ball movements were completed, some of which were listed as "Grade 8" rather than "Grade 10." It is not known for certain who made the dials of the Ball Howard movements, though some seem to show clear signs that they were painted by the Howard dial room foreman, Josiah Moorhouse.
 

Kent

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... I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency. ...
Hi Dewey:

I think you've expressed this concept in an earlier thread (that I'm too lazy to search for). At that time I believe that I responded with a link to a NAWCC Bulletin article showing that he had a staff in place to "finish" the watches ("The Babcocks - Mary and Harrison - and Webb C. Ball," William E. Miether, NAWCC Bulletin No. 112, October 1964, pp. 439-446. - available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in).

Have you forgotten, or do you have a reference that states that Ball "... required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency."?
 

DeweyC

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Hi Dewey:

I think you've expressed this concept in an earlier thread (that I'm too lazy to search for). At that time I believe that I responded with a link to a NAWCC Bulletin article showing that he had a staff in place to "finish" the watches ("The Babcocks - Mary and Harrison - and Webb C. Ball," William E. Miether, NAWCC Bulletin No. 112, October 1964, pp. 439-446. - available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in).

Have you forgotten, or do you have a reference that states that Ball "... required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency."?
Kent,

You seem to have taken my post out of context. I did not state I knew how he did the finishing at all. To be clear the complete sentence was/is:

"I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency"

The controlling phrase being "I do not know". Which I do not. With all due respect to Miether; as a watchmaker I find it hard to believe one person could finish, adjust and rate 100 watches a week; day after day, year after year. Especially without instantaneous electronic timers. The 24 hour positional rate data would take considerable time just to record; let alone analyze for the next adjustment.

There is a significant difference between making an affirmative statement and wondering how such a herculean task could be accomplished day after day and year after year.

Other than Meither, do you have any data to shed light on this seeming conundrum?
 

Kent

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Kent,

You seem to have taken my post out of context. I did not state I knew how he did the finishing at all. To be clear the complete sentence was/is:

"I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency"

The controlling phrase being "I do not know". Which I do not. With all due respect to Miether; as a watchmaker I find it hard to believe one person could finish, adjust and rate 100 watches a week; day after day, year after year. Especially without instantaneous electronic timers. The 24 hour positional rate data would take considerable time just to record; let alone analyze for the next adjustment.

There is a significant difference between making an affirmative statement and wondering how such a herculean task could be accomplished day after day and year after year.

Other than Meither, do you have any data to shed light on this seeming conundrum?
Dewey:

Ah , but you do know that Ball had a staff in place. Or rather you would know if you read Meither's article instead of skimming it. Here are two quotes from Page 443 (with added emphasis):
"Bab was one of the hand picked staff who tore down and rebuilt each watch ..."
"When new movements arrived from the manufacturer. record cards had to be prepared for each one, then dispatched to the watchmakers to be disassembled and rebuilt."
 
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DeweyC

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Dewey:

Ah , but you do know that Ball had a staff in place. Or rather you would know if you read Meither's article instead of skimming it. Here are two quotes from Page 443 (with added emphasis):
"Bab was one of the hand picked staff who tore down and rebuilt each watch ..."
"When new movements arrived from the manufacturer. record cards had to be prepared for each one, then dispatched to the watchmakers to be disassembled and rebuilt."
Kent,

I believed your initial postilion was that Babcock did ALL the work. Now I see she is just "One of the handpicked"

So no, I did not know and I was justified in questioning just how one person could do all that work. Thank you for clarifying your interpretation of Meither.

Unfortunately, Meither is silent on just who the other "hand picked" watchmakers were. They could well have been inspectors in training. Salary records would certainly help.

I still do not know how the department was organized or how many watches each person did. To adjust one watch to 6 positions takes 6 24 hour periods to get the positional rates. On top of checking rates, each watchmaker had to prepare the next one and then decide what moves to make on the watch he/she just recorded. Then he/she had to check for 6 days the watch he just "touched" and likely touch it again the following week. And so on.

Nor do I know how he did things in 1896, 1905, 1912, or 1930. That report is merely a snapshot in time and is very sparse on real data. I suspect he organized differently at different times.

There is simply too much not known to generalize how Ball did things. And I do still suspect he used inspectors in training/recerting to get some work done. he was a very canny businessman.

Until the business records surface, this remains untestable. Without those records, I cannot confirm it, you cannot refute it.

I much prefer in this order: primary data (includes business records), contemporary accounts, and among the last are articles based on anecdotal data.

This is kind of like the time I raised questions about the Rood/Dueber relationship at Hampden in 1890. The standard line (in an NAWCC article by Gibbs? unsure) was that Rood forced Dueber in receivership. It took a lot of heat to get people to accept the contemporary reporting of the Stark County Democrat that revealed that in fact Dueber manufactured the whole thing to avoid paying off the notes Rood held. Possibly to interfere with Rood's plans to buy Aurora.

I raise questions, see if anyone has real data and then if not, I seek it out. SImply the way I work.
 
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grtnev

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Mary Babcock worked for Ball Watch Co. from 1901 until 1920. At some point after her initial hire in 1901 it seems clear from both the Miether (1964) and Winslow (1997) Bulletin articles that Mary Foote Babcock was given the responsibility of testing and physically touching each and every Ball Watch before it was shipped. Not sure when she was promoted to be in charge of testing of all Ball watches but it was probably 1905 give or take, so the "snapshot" in time we are discussing is from around 1905 - 1920.

Ball Watch Co. also employed watchmakers (her husband was one of them when they first met) who performed the "bench work".

Mary Babcock was the one who ran the heat, cold, and positional tests on each and every watch. If a watch failed a test, it went back to the "bench" for correction; i.e. to the Ball Co. watchmakers. The watchmakers made any necessary adjustment(s) and the watch was then sent back to Mary for testing. Early on, Mary was probably involved with "bench" work, but one would assume that tapered off as her testing responsibilities increased.

The following is excerpted from page 443 of NAWCC Bulletin from1964, "THE BABCOCKS MARY AND HARRISON AND Webb C . Ball" by William E. Miether:
"Every watch bearing the Ball name had to go through his shop, ..... where the hand picked staff tore down and rebuilt each watch. Balance wheels and hair springs were given the most minute inspection. While the men labored at the bench, Mary was busy keeping records, testing, winding, setting, and adjusting every watch. In my opinion her job was by far the most demanding. While the men were only concerned with one watch at a time, Mary had to keep track of several hundred watches, each of which remained in her custody for a week or more. It is no wonder that she was regarded as indispensable. Only the most alert mind could possibly keep this complicated routine in order."

In addition to the 1964 Bulletin article by Miether, there is the following: "WEBB C. BALL - RAILROAD WATCH INSPECTION SYSTEM", by Robert P. Winslow (OH), October 1997 NAWCC Bulletin; (NAWCC Bulletin Editor's Note: We are pleased to present this article taken from the lecture by Mr. Winslow at the 1996 NAWCC Seminar on "Railroad Timekeeping," held in Rockford, Illinois).

The following is excerpted from page 543:
"Testing of Railroad Watches
As a part of the inspection system, all Ball railroad watches were tested and adjusted before they were released to the railroads. There is a rather interesting human interest story connected with the testing procedure. As Bill Miether of Cleveland reported in a BULLETIN article, October 1964, this testing procedure was managed by one individual, Mary Foote Babcock. The study of Mary Babcock gives us an excellent look at the functioning Webb Ball organization. She was the only female in the shop and held a very responsible position with the Ball organization, which was highly unusual at that time.
When new movements arrived from the manufacturer, Mary prepared record cards for each one. Serial numbers were recorded and then the watches were passed on to the watchmakers to be disassembled and rebuilt. The reassembled watches were then returned to Mary for testing. She began by putting trays of watches into an oven, where they were held at 90 degrees for four hours and then transferred to a 40-degree ice box for an additional four hours. After the heat and cold test, each watch would spend 24 hours in each of five positions: 1. Dial up. 2. Dial down. 3. Pendant up. 4. Pendant right. 5. Pendant left. Later a sixth position, pendant down, was added.
Following each step of the testing, the watch would be checked against the chronometer. If a test revealed a deviation, it would be sent back to the bench for adjustment.
Also, as a part of her job, at 11 a.m. each day, Mary had to stand at the shop's master regulator to receive time signals from Washington over a direct wire from Western Union. In between these activities, Mary had to wind every watch daily. As the organization grew, this awesome task resulted in what were probably very sore fingers. Finally, before any watch was sent to an authorized time inspector, they were again returned to Mary for retesting."

Richard
 

DeweyC

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Mary Babcock worked for Ball Watch Co. from 1901 until 1920. At some point after her initial hire in 1901 it seems clear from both the Miether (1964) and Winslow (1997) Bulletin articles that Mary Foote Babcock was given the responsibility of testing and physically touching each and every Ball Watch before it was shipped. Not sure when she was promoted to be in charge of testing of all Ball watches but it was probably 1905 give or take, so the "snapshot" in time we are discussing is from around 1905 - 1920.

Ball Watch Co. also employed watchmakers (her husband was one of them when they first met) who performed the "bench work".

Mary Babcock was the one who ran the heat, cold, and positional tests on each and every watch. If a watch failed a test, it went back to the "bench" for correction; i.e. to the Ball Co. watchmakers. The watchmakers made any necessary adjustment(s) and the watch was then sent back to Mary for testing. Early on, Mary was probably involved with "bench" work, but one would assume that tapered off as her testing responsibilities increased.

The following is excerpted from page 443 of NAWCC Bulletin from1964, "THE BABCOCKS MARY AND HARRISON AND Webb C . Ball" by William E. Miether:
"Every watch bearing the Ball name had to go through his shop, ..... where the hand picked staff tore down and rebuilt each watch. Balance wheels and hair springs were given the most minute inspection. While the men labored at the bench, Mary was busy keeping records, testing, winding, setting, and adjusting every watch. In my opinion her job was by far the most demanding. While the men were only concerned with one watch at a time, Mary had to keep track of several hundred watches, each of which remained in her custody for a week or more. It is no wonder that she was regarded as indispensable. Only the most alert mind could possibly keep this complicated routine in order."

In addition to the 1964 Bulletin article by Miether, there is the following: "WEBB C. BALL - RAILROAD WATCH INSPECTION SYSTEM", by Robert P. Winslow (OH), October 1997 NAWCC Bulletin; (NAWCC Bulletin Editor's Note: We are pleased to present this article taken from the lecture by Mr. Winslow at the 1996 NAWCC Seminar on "Railroad Timekeeping," held in Rockford, Illinois).

The following is excerpted from page 543:
"Testing of Railroad Watches
As a part of the inspection system, all Ball railroad watches were tested and adjusted before they were released to the railroads. There is a rather interesting human interest story connected with the testing procedure. As Bill Miether of Cleveland reported in a BULLETIN article, October 1964, this testing procedure was managed by one individual, Mary Foote Babcock. The study of Mary Babcock gives us an excellent look at the functioning Webb Ball organization. She was the only female in the shop and held a very responsible position with the Ball organization, which was highly unusual at that time.
When new movements arrived from the manufacturer, Mary prepared record cards for each one. Serial numbers were recorded and then the watches were passed on to the watchmakers to be disassembled and rebuilt. The reassembled watches were then returned to Mary for testing. She began by putting trays of watches into an oven, where they were held at 90 degrees for four hours and then transferred to a 40-degree ice box for an additional four hours. After the heat and cold test, each watch would spend 24 hours in each of five positions: 1. Dial up. 2. Dial down. 3. Pendant up. 4. Pendant right. 5. Pendant left. Later a sixth position, pendant down, was added.
Following each step of the testing, the watch would be checked against the chronometer. If a test revealed a deviation, it would be sent back to the bench for adjustment.
Also, as a part of her job, at 11 a.m. each day, Mary had to stand at the shop's master regulator to receive time signals from Washington over a direct wire from Western Union. In between these activities, Mary had to wind every watch daily. As the organization grew, this awesome task resulted in what were probably very sore fingers. Finally, before any watch was sent to an authorized time inspector, they were again returned to Mary for retesting."

Richard
Richard,

Thank you. So Meither DID say Mary touched every watch. And this appears to have been repeated by Winslow (much like others repeated the incorrect Dueber/Rood story).

BTW, we are ignoring the headline! What does this say about Ball that in the 1920s he had such respect for a woman?

Now, given what I laid out as the work required to adjust watches prior to 1930, how likely is it that one person could possibly DO all that? I am skeptical. How many watches per day? How many shipped per year? Torn down, completely inspected, pivots touched, tested for 24 hours in each position, results analyzed, balance touched, retested for another 6 days, and in the meantime all those pesky watches sitting in the backroom waiting for THEIR turn.

I know it was a big deal at Greenwhich to just do the rating for 100 chronometers over their trial, and they did not do anything to the instrument itself.

It seems to me either Mary was superhuman or there is a part of the story missing.

As I alluded to earlier, it is problematic when someone takes previous article as Gospel without researching the primary data.

In this case, the report is discrepant with what I know from previous knowledge. So I therefore question its accuracy and will reserve judgment until primary data are presented (such as business records).

What would make sense to me is that Mary wound up supervising the operation. Kent alludes to a staff of wathcmakers. This still leaves open the question of who those hand picked watchmakers were. Were they full time employees or were they inspectors in training/certification? Does the Meither report reflect how Ball always did it; or should it be taken as a point in time snapshot?

I DO believe Mary could have served as the final quality assurance check. At the Richemont service center in Dallas, I talked with the two watch makers who made up their QA department. They checked every watch that had been serviced by the 100 staff watchmakers. They also had the advantage of electronic instantaneous timing instruments.

I simply do not know how Ball organized his timing department. And that was all I told old rookie.
 

grtnev

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I am skeptical. How many watches per day? How many shipped per year?

Kent alludes to a staff of watchmakers. This still leaves open the question of who those hand picked watchmakers were. Were they full time employees or were they inspectors in training/certification?
Good Morning Dewey,

I understand where your skepticism comes from especially with your watchmaker/horologist background.

However, there is a very significant point regarding the singular reference source for Miether, that we must consider.

Miether knew both of the Babcocks. They lived close to him - "just down the hill". He had many conversations with both of them - some prior to Harrison's death in 1964 and additional conversations with Mary subsequent to her husband's death.

Miether's entire article is based on those direct conversations that he had over time with both Mary and her husband Harrison (Bab). Unless the Harrisons intentionally misspoke to Miether or Miether intentionally misrepresented what they directly told him, a first had account would be a very credible reference source

A couple of examples from his article:

"The recent passing of Harrison F. Babcock, Jr. dealt me a double blow. I had not only lost a friend, but I had lost an opportunity to record a more complete story of this man and the important part he played in the history of timekeeping. He could have told me so much, and he lived so near - just down the hill. It would have been a pleasure to see him enjoy a bit of glory that was rightfully his, but I have waited too long. His wife Mary, who affectionately calls him Bab, and is quite willing to tell me anything she can..."
"Bab did mention that his wife Mary did the final timing of all watches before they were shipped...."
Note: There is one short time period from Dec 1917 - April 1918 when Mary was sick and not at work and others would have handled her duties. This is referenced below.

  • Regarding your question as to "how many watches per day", from what I can ascertain, and I certainly could be in error, during the time period from 1905-1920, approximately 320,000 total watches (Elite Timepieces - Ball Pocket Watch Serial Numbers) were supplied to Ball by Hamilton and Waltham. (Elgin, Howard, and Illinois supplied watches to Ball but during different time periods.)
If we use 313 work days/yr (6 day work week), over the course of 15 years this would be 4695 working days. Using a simple linear approach, 320,000 watches / 4695 working days = 68 watches that Mary would "touch" or "test" one way or another each day. Obviously this number varied daily depending on what was actually being worked on but it at least gives us an order of magnitude perspective. It is almost a certainty as well that the work day was longer than today's 8 hour day, probably at least a 10-12 hour day if not longer. It is also interesting to note that in 1917, Mary had to take a leave from her duties and tried to quit due to fatigue and exhaustion.​
Referring to page 444 from Miether:​
"It was in December of 1917 that Mary quit......because she was very close to a nervous breakdown......Mary's vacation only lasted until the following April. Her health had improved considerably...."
Obviously during the time that Mary was not at work and recuperating, other accommodations had to be put in place to provide oversight for the testing of the watches passing through the Ball facility.​

  • Regarding your question regarding Ball's watchmakers, both articles make it pretty clear that there was a "bench" or staff of watchmakers to disassemble, check, and adjust the watches. Harrison was one of those watchmakers. That is how he and Mary met. I haven't found any reference to how many watchmakers were on staff.
If you believe the Miether account of his direct conversations with both Mary and Harrison, then one would conclude that as time went on, Mary probably did very little if any "bench" work, but rather was in charge of testing and actually performed the various temperature and position tests on each watch and meticulously recording the results. Any watch failing a test went back to the bench, and staff of watchmakers, for necessary adjusting.

The Winslow article from 1997 is a more traditional "research" article with 16 references cited. Additionally, it is noted in the "About the Author" section at the end of his article that: A Fellow of the NAWCC, Robert Winslow has contributed to the BULLETIN about Webb c. Ball previously, in the article "Webb Ball & the Kipton Disaster," #278, June 1992. He has served as president of Chapter #28, as chairman of the North Coast Regional, and on committees for the 1992 Seminar in Cleveland and the 1996 National Convention. Mr. Winslow is a graduate of Youngstown (Ohio) University and, prior to his retirement, he owned and operated a medical laboratory in Cleveland.
Richard
 
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DeweyC

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Richard.

Thank you for acknowledging my skepticism/caution regarding these kinds of data.

Anecdotal reports should be investigated, but not taken on their face as "truth".

It is not an issue of whether or not I believe that Meither accurately reported what he was told. The issue is that retrospective interviews are very unreliable due to a number of factors. How many times have we seen a watch that grandpa carried on the Pensy that was nothing more than a dollar watch? And it has nothing to due with intent to deceive. Memory is so faulty that eye witness evidence is often refuted by physical evidence. Yet the witness is acting completely in good faith.

I do think Meither created a valuable entre into researching just how Ball organized his business and how he changed it over time. I suspect the system in 1925 was the result of an evolutionary process.

Would be very nice if he had Mary's diary from her working days. That would be a more reliable source of data.

I think you hit the nail on the head. It is a question of whether one is willing to extrapolate from an article by Meither. Some will. For me, it is so discrepant from my knowledge that I feel uncomfortable accepting it prima facie.
 

musicguy

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it is so discrepant from my knowledge that I feel uncomfortable accepting it prima facie.
It's not your nature to accept anything at face value, but it does get frustrating
to some that you question someone else's research that is, and has been accepted by the majority
with Mary as a primary source. Yes, you are correct there is a lot of information about the finishing room for Ball
that is unknown.

This back and forth started when Kent asked you about your statement

" I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency. ... "

You are actually the one to put a questionable idea into this discussion that has no
basis on any research that has been displayed here or documentation provided. You are questioning an interview as a source
and you make a theory about inspectors and what they may or may not have been required to do without
any backup.



Rob
 

DeweyC

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It's not your nature to accept anything at face value, but it does get frustrating
to some that you question someone else's research that is, and has been accepted by the majority
with Mary as a primary source. Yes, you are correct there is a lot of information about the finishing room for Ball
that is unknown.

This back and forth started when Kent asked you about your statement

" I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency. ... "

Rob
Yes, it is what made me very good at my previous career and it is also what makes me a decent mechanic. No apologies here.


You are actually the one to put a questionable idea into this discussion that has no
basis on any research that has been displayed here or documentation provided. You are questioning an interview as a source
and you make a theory about inspectors and what they may or may not have been required to do without
any backup.
You seem to be saying that following up on an anecdotal report to test it against primary data is a waste of time. Just because you find it irksome to have to consider the data upon which a belief is founded? Interesting.

This is no different than when I raised questions about Rood/Dueber or showed that Hamilton did NOT copy the Waltham pendant design and that Hamilton Cased 991s were real. I am used to the resistance of entrenched thinking. It was part of my job to challenge such with a quest for data.

And to be clear, this "back and forth", as you colloquially term it, started because KENT decided to criticize me for stating "I do not know". Which I do not. I am not clear why he could not simply accept my position that I do not know rather than Kent insisting that I DO know. His beliefs are his; my beliefs should be mine!

I never contested Kent's beliefs. However, in the process, I was generous enough to reveal why I personally do not rely on anecdotal data for "knowing"; no matter how many times the anecdote is retold. Just because the Rood /Dueber thing had been retold for 50 years did not make it accurate.

If you feel comfortable accepting Meither at face value, good on ya!

My personal questions about the completeness, accuracy and generalizability over time about an article that is discrepant with the actual contemporary mechanics of getting a job done are MY concerns. No one said they had to be yours.

Once again, I ONLY offered them as reasons why I say "I do not know". Not at all sure why that is heretical. What is the threat in me NOT knowing?

Rob, I did not ask you to care about my research interests. Just as I did not ask anyone's permission in the past.
 

grtnev

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The following link is to a NAWCC Bulletin article from 1960, authored by Harrison and Mary Babcock, which predates Miether by 4 years: Log In. (Not sure why the link insertion says "log in", but in any case, click on it to be directed to the article, available to NAWCC members.)

The article is entitled "The Railroad Watch" by Harrison F. and Mary E. Babcock, pp 385-387. The article is a cursory discussion of Ball's involvement in the development, definition, and standardization of what became known as a standard or railroad watch including general specifications, required adjustments, minimal jeweling, etc.

Quoting from the last paragraph, which is the word and writings of Harrison F. Babcock:
"Added to my signature is that of Mrs. Babcock who did the final timing of Ball watches before shipment as well as that necessary for temperature and position adjusting."

Richard
 
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Kent

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...
Unfortunately, Meither is silent on just who the other "hand picked" watchmakers were. They could well have been inspectors in training.
...
Dewey:

You do realize that the inspectors weren't Ball employees, don't you? They were jewelry shop owners or their employees. I've not come across any mention of their training in contemporary literature, either for Ball or any other firm offering watch inspection services.
 

DeweyC

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Kent,

Thank you for asking what I do know.

Yes, I do know they were not employees; hence my repeated reference to certification and training. Even today it is not unusual for training organizations to have trainees work on real watches. Wostep Neuchatel did this until an issue came up with making a missing bridge for a Patek. Sam Canan employed this practice when he was the director of the NAWCC watch school.

This is why I WONDER how Ball used them initially; and how he monitored their proficiency over time. One way to manintain standards in such a geogrpahically wide system would be to send standard watches to the agents for completon and to inspect them (Mary, for instance) upon thier return.

Such a practice would be a legitimate quid quo pro. The trainee/agent in cert would get a vaulable franchise and Ball gets to see how they actually perform on HIS watches while getting help with his inventory.

While they were not employees, they were an important part of the buisness and it would be imperative to not let the standards to drift over time due to complacency or age.

While it should not be necessary to make this clear, this is a QUESTION for RESEARCH and it is not a claim to fact.
 

DeweyC

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I'm beginning to wish I hadn't started this thread. I was only looking for information not to start a schwantz measuring contest.
You guys play nice or no dessert! ;)
Actually Rob, I think this is more a philosophical discussion of the difference between "knowing" and "acceptance" when it comes to knowledge.

I am not sure I agee anyone who has posted has done so with ill intent. I think this discussion revolves around how we arrive at what we think we know.
 

grtnev

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Anyone have any comment re: Mr Harrison’s own words in his 1960 NAWCC article?

The 3 NAWCC Bulletin articles indicate that Mary Harrison was in charge of the Testing/Finishing Department at Ball and that there was a “bench” of Ball employee watchmakers to make any necessary adjustments to watches that failed a test(s).

Mary may have occasionally been a part of that bench, but her main responsibility as head of the Testing Department, was to administer the heat/cold & position tests and maintain all of the test documentation on all watches prior to them leaving the Ball facility - thus the references to her “touching every watch” as well as Mr. Babcock’s words in his & Mary’s 1960 Bulletin article.

I’ve read nothing that states Ball used external resources as a part of his “bench”, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. As Dewey indicated, that was a business option open to him if he wanted to take advantage of it. Outsourcing, obviously, is a common business practice today.

I find all of this historically fascinating - especially given what Mary accomplished at a time when women in positions of importance in businesses was unheard of.

Also, just for clarity, references to “Bab” is a reference to Mr. Harrison. “Bab” was Mary’s nickname for him and he was one of Ball’s handpicked watchmakers - where/how he & Mary met. Mary also had a nickname, “May” which Mr. Harrison sometimes called her.

Richard
 
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DeweyC

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Richard,

I agree with you that Ball's appointment of Babs to a position of high importance and respect is a very important part of the story. This was the same period when Hubble was publishing important data discovered by Leavitt (a female astronomer) under his own name.

Ball was certainly not afraid to pick the most talented person for the job. We need more on both him and Ms. Babcock.
 

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