Empire Express

 

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THE EMPIRE STATE EXPRESS & WEBB C. BALL

It seems like we simply can't get enough of Ball watches.  Here is another one that is very interesting.  This fine 18 size Ball watch was produced by Hamilton for sale to members of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen.  This watch contains 17 jewels. 

WEBB C. BALL AND HIS SMOKESTACK JEWELS

Webb C. Ball worked very hard to design what he called the perfect rail road watch.  These watches were very simple, very well constructed and were very easy to regulate at his company in Cleveland, Ohio.  Mr. Ball insisted that watches with 17 to 19 jewels were the best.  In 1906 many factories were producing watches that contained 21 jewels or even more.  Mr. Ball called these extra jewels "Smokestack Jewels".  Mr. Ball noted the following in his advertisement from 1906.

An oil-cup is necessary and vital at some points, but no locomotive builder would put an oil-cup on the smokestack.  Jewels are the oil-cups of a watch...17 or 19 insure correct time, 5 or 6 more are "on the stack."  When purchasing a machine get it strong and simple...useless parts mean complication and delicate construction; they increase the first cost and the after cost of maintenance.  Ball watches are simple, sturdy machines...no unnecessary jewels, no unnecessary repair bills.  Fine timekeepers and sure friends for a lifetime.

The above was published in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen's Magazine.  Please see the ad below following the pictures of the 17 jewel Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen's pocket watch.  Now you know why there were many fine quality Ball watches that were produced using 17 and 19 jewels.

       

       

Beautiful Model 999 movement mounted in a sterling silver Keystone watch case.  Webb C. Ball and the 999, history in the making.  Most collectors of watches know about the famous locomotive that was built by the Schenectady Locomotive Works.  This engine was built for the Vanderbilt Group and was placed into service between Buffalo and Syracuse on May 10, 1893.  This engine ran under the name Empire State Express.  It pulled four cars at over 112 miles per hour.  This was the first time the 100 mile per hour speed had been exceeded by a man made vehicle.  We have used this famous picture of the Empire State Express both on our Antique Time Neighborhood Watch Message Board and on our eBay auctions along with our "About Me" page on eBay.

The Famous Empire State Express
Number 999

Mr. Ball adopted this number for his famous watches.  This number continued until the end.  In 1895 Ball had the Hamilton Watch Company produce a grade 999.  This year saw 400 of them produced.  From 1895 to 1908 another 16,034 of the 999's were manufactured.  From about 1909 to the end in 1942, Hamilton made another 57,000 of these famous watches for the Ball Watch Company both in 18 size and 16 size models.  No watch collection would ever be complete without having a Ball 999.

I used to be the Main Express
All steam and whistles heading West.
Riding on the Story Line, furnace burning overtime.
But this train don't stop, no this train don't stop,
No this train don't stop here anymore.

Elton John

       

Smokestack Jewels

This model of the Empire State Express No. 999
Was made for the Waltham Watch Company and tells about their
Scientifically Built Watches.  It also mentions that there are
10 Million Waltham Timepieces In Use.
Using a model of the ESE 999 by Waltham is strange as it was
The Ball Watch Company that capitalized upon the success
of the famous 999 and its world records.

       

Here are three interesting photographs of the famous
Empire State Express No. 999

The first photograph above is without a doubt one of the most
Beautiful photos we have ever seen of the 999.

Below is a photograph collection of the Empire State Express.  Many of these wonderful pictures were from post cards dating from 1896.

        

        

        

  

The picture on the right is an engraving of the Empire State Express on the back of an old 18 size silver pocket watch case.  Cases with trains engraved on them are called Train Cases.

Here is one of the most rare postage stamps ever produced by the
Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  This postage stamp shows the
Empire State Express No. 999 inverted.
Needless to say, this early postage stamp is priceless.

This is how the above postage stamp should have looked.
Notice that the picture is of the ESE 999 taken during its
record setting run, a picture that we have used many times
and one that is our favorite.

 

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