Ball: if you haven’t heard of the watch brand, we don’t blame you. It’s an injustice, really, because its watches are at par with other high end brands, you get what you pay for with them, and the brand stays true to its claim of accuracy under adverse conditions. The company is one upping its game with innovations and big-time partnerships though, that soon enough we may find the situation change to their favor.
The company and the inspiration
Ball, for starters, is an American watch company based in Switzerland, boasting of a large collection of solid watches. It takes inspiration in the American railroad system and in its needs, which in the early days has depended on its founder for a standardized timekeeping process to keep people across the country connected to each other. It may have been founded ages ago, but Ball still is faithful to the values and preferences the founder upheld. Each watch still maintain the accuracy and precision needed to keep railroad operations smooth-sailing, and all details are made to achieve that goal.
Its history and legendary founder
Ball had a rather morbid event indirectly affecting its beginning, with the Kipton Disaster in Ohio prompting officials to tap the expertise of a watchmaker who soon became Ball’s founder, Webb C. Ball. Before the development of railroads in the United States, the country did not standardize time. This began to change when trains made for easier transportation and required accurate timekeeping to avoid accidents in the form of collisions. However, it did take one fatal accident before actual policies are formed, and officials came to Webb C. Ball for help.
It was all thanks to the jeweller-cum-watchmaker that a system was developed so that time is coordinated across all railroad stations. Ball was strict on his system that he dubbed the RR Standard, not allowing more than 30 seconds in the difference among the clocks. Watchmakers, who aim for accuracy for a living, had to be approved to inspect stations from time to time.
After establishing himself as an authority in timekeeping and ensuring its uniformity, the business that he managed in Cleveland soon grew to become Ball Watches. For a time, it was the largest distributor of railroad watches. Initially, the company used other American companies’ movements and improved them, but later on moved to Swiss movements. The Second World War affected sales negatively, and in the decades following it the company waned. It was revived in the 1990s, but the name was now bought by the Swiss, and the headquarters subsequently moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. Its first watch was released a decade later and was called the Engineer. Its market has also grown, covering not only the USA but also other nations in Europe and Asia.
True to the mission
Ball’s mission and guiding statement is to be itself and be its best self, not comparing it to others, but doing its own thing. The company adheres to this by maintaining the quality it has established since its foundation. This commitment to quality has been upheld since it became the Stateside distributor of railroad watches to producing watches that are no longer exclusive to that purpose but are still dependable and worth every buck.
Having mastered precision and exactness in its timepieces, Ball also wants to grow more beyond its skill set, to go forward and create more watches that are accurate even in adverse conditions.
BALL for BMW TMT Chronometer (Limited Edition Series)
2016 partnership with BMW
Ball took the spotlight in 2016 when it partnered with BMW to celebrate its 125th anniversary and the latter’s 100th anniversary. Ball released special and limited models bearing the BMW logo. The models are customizable to some extent, and were available through the Ball website.
But the interesting parts lie not on the customization but on the details. The automatic watch features a mechanical thermometer module which has an accuracy of 97 percent. Equipped with micro gas tubes on the hands, the watches also make excellent timekeepers in low light. It’s anti-magnetic, visually mesmerizing and detailed to boot, proving just how committed Ball is to the craft.
Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT II Watch, Micro Gas Tube Lume. abtw
Ball as it stands today
It may have gone through rough times but it still maintains its excellent reputation, one as a company which produces topnotch watches that can survive and be accurate in the most undesirable situations, only honed by its history.
Ball has a lot going for it. If it gets its deserved recognition in the future, we’d be among the first to say, we told you so.
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