Home / Waltham / Play Ball! c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial

Play Ball! c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial

/
1611 Views
c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial
c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial

Today’s post celebrates the recent start of a new Major League Baseball season. In the late 1880s, as dial design techniques became more efficient, American watch companies began offering beautiful specialty dials. The Elgin National Watch Company introduced an extensive line of Society and Sporting dials to leverage this new capability. Seeing Elgin’s success in the market, the American Waltham Watch Company responded by launching its own line of specialty dials.


c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial: Closeup
c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial: Closeup

This dial exhibited in today’s post features the “base ball” dial sold by Waltham during this era, showcasing players in various action poses around the dial. The players are gloveless, accurately depicting baseball scenes from the late 1880s before gloves became standard equipment. The pillbox caps, bat style, and uniforms are also consistent with this era of early American baseball, graciously confirmed by expert Mark Patishnock.


c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial
c.1890 American Waltham Watch Co. Baseball Theme Dial

While the black line art for the design was likely applied using a photographic transfer process, each dial is hand-colored. Interestingly, the dial painter was granted creative freedom, exhibited by the fact that each dial features distinct uniform colors. Because of the close relationship between Waltham and the O’Hara Dial Company, these dials may have been produced at the O’Hara factory.

These dials were available in both single-sunk and double-sunk variations, and only a small number have survived.


Here is an example of one of the surviving single-sunk dials, paired with a watch sold by Hunt Auctions in November 2020:

Lot 348: Rare Baseball themed Waltham pocket watch c.1887.
Image Courtesy of Hunt Auctions

This double-sunk dial featured in this post is fitted on an 18-Size Model 1883 P.S. Bartlett movement with an estimated production date of 1891.


Waltham P.S. Bartlett Movement 18-Size Model 1883 #5015360
Waltham P.S. Bartlett Movement 18-Size Model 1883 #5015360

As an avid baseball fan, this watch is a pleasant union between my interests in horology and baseball.

Play Ball!

2 Comments

  1. Great article by Nathan Moore. As a young person in the 1960’s my goal was to be a watchmaker however in England it was expensive so I ended up apprenticing as an instrument mechanic which in those day meant I spent a lot of time repairing clockwork charts drives and being trained by ex-watchmakers. Because of this I was able to repair watches and clocks as a lifelong hobby. Many of the pocket watches I repaired/restored were American Waltham movements. In the 1990’s I was required to visit an instrument manufacturer in Waltham Mass. and imagine my surprise when I arrived at the address and discovered that their factory was housed in a portion of the Waltham Watch factory. I had seen pictures many years earlier and it was unmistakable. The huge brick building with many large windows, for the day, on the banks of the Charles river. The sad part was though that no one that I spoke to there seemed to be aware of the buildings past and the amazing watch movements produced there.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar