Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Thursday, November 24, 2011

History of the Big Ben alarm clock (America's most loved and most remembered alarm clock)

The Big Ben alarm clock was first sold in 1909 and has evolved through many case style and movement changes. The Baby Ben was first sold in 1910 and has evolved in a similar way.
The pictures below illustrate the 10 "mainstream" case styles of windup Big and Baby Bens and the years in which they were made. Style 1 was the first model made and style 10 is the last model. To identify a Ben, find out which of the case styles it matches. Pay particular attention to the shapes of the cases since various case colors were available in styles 2 through 10, and the dial on your clock might be different. For more exact dating, look on the movement - a date will be found on almost any Big Ben or Baby Ben made up until mid-1970's. The Big and Baby Bens up through style 9 were made in USA (and some some other countries). The style 10 is made in China.
Additional case styles that have names but not numbers are illustrated below the numbered styles. Also shown below are some relatives of the Bens: Bingo Style 1, Dura Case (LaSalle series), Clock of Tomorrow, and the Seth Thomas 'Baby Bens".
In 2001, General Time (owner of Westclox) declared bankruptcy and sold the Westclox name to Salton, Inc. Since then, the name "Big Ben" has been used on several reproduction models of clocks that were not called Big Ben in the past. These reproductions may be identified by being battery operated and made in China.
Reproductions of some of the earlier Big Ben styles are now being made in China. They are included in the detail pages for the various styles.

Numbered Styles (1 - 10)

Style 1 Big Ben (leg model)
baby Ben with two inch movement
Baby Ben style 1
Style 2 Ben in pink crackle finish case.
Big Ben Style 1 and 1a Big Ben Style 1
1909 - 1918
Big Ben Style 1a
1918 - 1935
(style 1 has three screws through the front, style 1a does not)

Baby Ben with 2 Inch Movement 1910 - 1912
Baby Ben Style 1
1912 - 1930
Style 2 Big Ben
and Baby Ben

Nickel finish 1927 - 1932
Crackle finish 1928 - 1930
Solid finish 1930 - 1932
Style 3 Ben
Style 4 Ben
Style 5 Ben
Style 6 Ben
Style 3
(concave curves on base) Big Ben Style 3
Chime alarm
1931 - 1934
Baby Ben Style 3
1932 - 1934
Style 4 and 4a
(convex curves on base) Big Ben Style 4
Chime alarm

1934 - 1939
Big Ben Style 4a
Loud Alarm

1935 - 1939
Baby Ben Style 4
1934 - 1939
Style 5 and 5a
Big Ben Style 5 Chime Alarm
1939 - 1949
Big Ben Style 5a Loud Alarm
1939 - 1946
Big Ben Style 5 Loud Alarm
1946 - 1949
Baby Ben Style 5
1939 - 1949
(Style 5 is thinner than style 5a)
Style 6 Big Ben
and Baby Ben
1949 - 1956
Style 7 Ben
Style 8 Ben
Style 9 Ben
Style 10 Ben
Style 7 Big Ben
and Baby Ben

1956 - 1964
Style 8
Big Ben: 1964 - 1981
Baby Ben: 1964 - 1980
Little Ben: 1976 - 1980+
Style 9
Big Ben and Baby Ben: 1979 - 2000
Style 10
Big Ben and Baby Ben: Starting in 2001
Made in China

Miscellaneous Big Ben and Baby Ben Styles (Not Numbered)

1931 Wood Case Electric Big Ben
1931 Black Bakelite Big Ben Electric
1948 Brown Bakelite Big Ben Electric
Big Ben electric on pedesal base
1931 Wood Case Electric Big Ben
1931 - 1935
1931 Bakelite Case Electric Big Ben
1931 - 1934
1948 Bakelite Case Electric Big Ben
1948 - 1952
Plastic Pedestal Base Electric Big Ben
1976 - 1980+
Baby Ben Futura
Big Ben Solid State
Spherical Case 1973 - 1981
Big Ben Sculptura
(Looks like style 8 on a pedestal)
1975 - 1978
Big Ben Solid State 1974 - 1978

Clocks Related to the Big Ben and Baby Ben

Non-luminous Westclox (LaSalle) Dura Case series
Non-luminous Dura Case series 1930 - 1934

Non-luminous Westclox (LaSalle) Dura Case series
Luminous Dura Case Series
1931 - 1934

Bingo style 1
Black Clock of Tomorrow
Bingo style 1
1914 - 1925
Clock of Tomorrow 1955 - 1959
Made with white case and white dial, and black case with black dial

Seth Thomas "Baby Bens"

These clocks are labeled Seth Thomas on the dial and use the same movement as the Westclox Baby Ben alarm clock. They were made from the 1930's through the 1950's. Here are some examples. 
Severn alarm clock by Seth Thomas.
Wood cased alarm clock by Seth Thomas.
Wood cased alarm clock by Seth Thomas.
Catalin plastic cased alarm clock by Seth Thomas.
Deft 3 by Seth Thomas. Made in 1947. Wood case.
Deft 4 by Seth Thomas dated April 8, 1950. Leather case.
Seth Thomas Baby Ben dagted May 5, 1939
Cort by Seth Thomas


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