History of Westclox Big Ben and Baby Ben Alarm Clocks and Related Clocks

The Big Ben alarm clock was first sold in 1909 and has evolved through many case and movement changes. The Baby Ben was first sold in 1910 and has evolved in a similar way.

The pictures below show the 10 "mainstream" case styles of Big and Baby Bens and when they were made. To identify a Big Ben or Baby Ben, find out which case style it matches. Pay attention to the shape of the case and not the color (your clock might have a different case or dial color). Most of the styles 1 - 10 are windup clocks, but some electric clocks were made in styles 5, 7, and 8.

The Big Bens and Baby Bens up through style 9 were made in the United States, Canada, Great Britain or Scotland. The style 10 is made in China.

Case styles that have names instead of numbers are illustrated after 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 of their styles.

We have written a "Westclox Big Ben and Baby Ben Identification Guide" that goes into detail about their history and identification. It is a 21 MB PDF file.

Big Ben and Baby Ben Style 1 through Style 10

To identify a Big Ben or Baby Ben alarm clock, find out which of the case styles it matches. Pay attention to the shape of the case and not the color (your clock might have a different case or dial color)

Style 1 Big Ben (leg model)

Big Ben Style 1

1909 - 1918

Big Ben Style 1a

1918 - 1935
(style 1 has three screws through the front, style 1a does not)
Style 2 Ben in pink crackle finish case.

Big Ben Style 2

Baby Ben Style 2

Nickel finish 1927 - 1932
Crackle finish 1928 - 1930
Solid finish 1930 - 1932
Style 3 Ben
Concave curves on base

Big Ben Style 3 Chime alarm

1931 - 1934

Baby Ben Style 3

1932 - 1934
Style 4 Ben
Convex curves on base

Big Ben Style 4 and 4a

Style 4 Chime alarm
1934 - 1939
Style 4a Loud Alarm
1935 - 1934

Baby Ben Style 4

1934 - 1939
Style 5 Ben

Big Ben Style 5 and 5a

Style 5 Chime Alarm
1939 - 1949
Style 5a Loud Alarm
1939 - 1946
(Style 5 is thinner than style 5a)
Style 5 Loud Alarm
1946 - 1949

Baby Ben Style 5

1939 - 1949
Style 6 Ben

Big Ben Style 6

1949 - 1956

Baby Ben Style 6

1949 - 1956
Style 7 Ben

Big Ben Style 7

1956 - 1964

Baby Ben Style 7

1956 - 1964
Style 8 Ben

Big Ben Style 8

1964 - 1981

Baby Ben Style 8

1964 - 1980

Little Ben

1976 - 1980+
Style 9 Ben

Big Ben Style 9

1979 - 2000

Baby Ben Style 9

1979 - 2000
Style 10 Ben

Big Ben Style 10

Starting in 2001

Baby Ben Style 10

Starting in 2001

Miscellaneous Big Ben and Baby Ben Styles (Not Numbered)

Baby Ben Futura
Spherical Case with flat bottom

Big Ben Futura

1973 - 1981

Baby Ben Futura

1976 - 1981
Sculptura
Looks like style 8 on a pedestal

Big Ben Sculptura

1975 - 1979
Big Ben Solid State

Big Ben Solid State

1974 - 1978

George Kern designed the style 1 Big Ben movement and case. August Schierholtz designed the style 2 case, and Max Schlenker designed the base. Henry Dreyfuss designed the style 3, 5 and 6 cases. The style 4 is a modification of style 3 and may also have been designed by Dreyfuss. Ellworth Danz designed the Style 7, 8 and 9 and the Clock of Tomorrow cases.

Big Ben and Baby Ben Alarm Clock ID Guide

In 1984, my friend Richard Tjarks and I published the "Westclox Big Ben and Baby Ben Identification Guide" to go along with the display of Westclox clocks and watches at the NAWCC National Convention in Indianapolis.

I've added recent research findings and more material to the guide, and it is available for download in PDF form. It is available free of charge, although donations are welcome! Jeff Wood and I are continuing our Westclox research. Jeff is particularly interested in early baby Ben and Big Ben history, while I am putting together information about Big Ben and Baby Ben variations.

Big Ben and Baby Ben Alarm Clock ID Guide (21 MB PDF File)

 

Dates Stamped on Big Ben and Baby Ben Clock Movements

Dates were stamped on a movement plate of most Big Ben and Baby Ben alarm clocks made up until mid-1970's. Numbers are used for the month, day and year; or just the month and year (e.g. 5 17 15 is May 17, 1915; and 7 34 is July 1934).

Actual transition dates I have observed on clocks:

Baby Ben

Big Ben Style 1, 1a, 2, 4 and Loud Alarm

Big Ben Single Key Wind (styles 7 and 8)

Big Ben Chime Alarm

Clock of Tomorrow

Clocks Related to the Big Ben and Baby Ben

Bingo style 1

Bingo style 1

1914 - 1925
Black Clock of Tomorrow

Clock of Tomorrow

1955 - 1959
Made in black or white

Seth Thomas "Baby Ben" Alarm Clocks

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. For larger photos and more details, see my Seth Thomas Baby Ben Alarm Clock page.

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

Westclox Big Ben and Baby Ben Alarm Clock Advertising History

See my Big Ben and Baby Ben Advertising History page for an overview of the history of the Big Ben and Baby Ben alarm clocks using original magazine advertisements starting with the September 24, 1910 Saturday Evening Post. This series of ads shows you the various styles of Bens that were made.

Get Our Big Ben and Baby Ben Alarm Clock Identification Guide (21 MB PDF File)

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