From its inception in 1892, the Hamilton Watch Company was focused on delivering high-quality watches for the railroad industry. Then, in 1893, under the guidance of Webb C. Ball, a new standard was adopted for railroad timepieces by the U.S. Government. The specifications were as follows:
“Open-faced, size 18 or 16, have a minimum of 17 jewels, adjusted to at least 5 positions, keep time accurately to within a gain or loss of only 30 seconds a week, adjusted to temperatures of 34 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, have a double roller, steel escape wheel, lever set, micrometric regulator, winding stem at 12 o’clock, grade on the backplate, use plain Arabic numbers printed bold and black on a white dial, and have bold black hands.
It is interesting to note that some railroad companies opted for a stricter interpretation of the standard. In the decades that followed several rail companies required their employees to use movements with a minimum of 21 or 23 jewels.
To comply with the 1893 standards and the subsequent requirements of the individual railroad companies, the Hamilton Watch Company stepped up to the plate and delivered a legendary new watch movement design in 1898 known as the Hamilton Grade 940.
The Hamilton Grade 940 was instrumental in cementing the Hamilton Watch Company’s legacy as the railroad timepiece company of America. The reputation of the Hamilton Grade 940 enabled the Hamilton Watch Company to dominate the railroad timepiece sector with 59% of the market share until the mid 20th century. In that sense, the company made good on its slogan promise to be, “The railroad timekeeper of America.” And that promise started with the Hamilton Grade940.
If you’re wanting to add the venerable Hamilton Grade 940 to your collection, be sure to explore our inventory of Hamilton watches at www.thepocketwatchguy.com.
As always, I stand ready to answer any and all questions about this or any other of The Pocket Watch Guys’ “best of the best” American timepieces. Please feel free to contact me through email at Jeff@thepocketwatchguy.com or phone 310.486.0572 or Instagram direct message at pocketwatchguy.com/instagram/. Meanwhile, thank you for your consideration.
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The Pocket Watch Guy