Big Ben Style 5 Chime Alarm: 1939 - 1949
Big Ben Style 5a Loud Alarm: 1939 - 1946
Big Ben Style 5 Loud Alarm: 1946 - 1949
Big Ben Style 5a Electric Chime Alarm 1938 - 1941
Big Ben Style 5 Electric Alarm 1941 - 1942
(Style 5a is thicker than style 5)
Note: Production of consumer clocks was suspended on July 31, 1942 for World War II and resumed in 1945
Note: Reproductions having battery operated quartz movements have been made in recent years.
The style 5 case design was first used in 1938 for the electric Big Ben Chime Alarm. In 1939 the wind-up style 5 Bens were introduced. Henry Dreyfuss designed this case and General Time applied for the patent on November 19, 1938. The patent was issued on April 11, 1939. Other well known designs by Dreyfuss are the Honeywell round thermostat, the Princess phone, and the Hudson J-3 streamlined locomotive for New York Central Railroad. Dreyfuss also designed the box for the style 5 Bens.
Big Ben Style 5 Chime Alarm was made in two colors, gunmetal with nickel trim and ivory with brass trim. Gunmetal cases have a white dial with black numerals, or a black dial with luminous numerals. Ivory cases have a white dial with brown numerals, or two different types of luminous dial (brown-banded from 1939 – 1948 and solid brown in 1948 and 1949).
Hands on non-luminous gunmetal clocks are “simplified skeleton style” blued steel. Hands on non-luminous ivory clocks are brown and of the same shape. Hands on luminous gunmetal clocks are solid (not skeleton) nickeled blanks with luminous paint applied to the front. Hands on ivory luminous clocks are lacquered brass blanks with luminous paint on the front.
The style 5a Big Ben Loud Alarm was made from 1939 to 1946. It came only in gunmetal with nickel trim, and either a white dial with black numerals or a black dial with luminous numerals. The style 5a appears similar to the style 5 but the case is thicker to accommodate the Loud Alarm movement, which is thinker than the Chime Alarm movement. In 1946, the Loud Alarm movement was redesigned to make it thinner, so it would fit into the thinner style 5 case. At this time, the style 5a Loud Alarm was replaced by the style 5 Loud Alarm, still only in gunmetal finish.
Most style 5a Big Ben Loud Alarms have a hanger on the back, but it was discontinued in late 1945 or early 1946.
Westclox switched over to production of war material during World War II. Consumer clock production ceased July 31, 1942 and resumed in 1945.
The electric Chime Alarm was introduced to the Westclox salesmen on January 3, 1939. The retail price was $4.95 with plain dial and $5.95 with luminous dial. This clock used a synchronous motor designed and made by Westclox.
First made in 1938, market introduction Jan. 1939, discontinued 7/41. First made in gunmetal/nickel, later ivory/brass added. Base labeled “S4-D”. Gunmetal back labeled “S4-D”. Ivory back labeled “S4-D” with the “D” crossed out and “E” stamped above it. Second hand in front of minute hand. Height 5 3/4”
Introduced 1941, last shipped 7/42, discontinued 10/45. Ivory case, white dial with brown numerals or brown-banded luminous dial. Back labeled “S6-B”, base labeled “69-C”. Second hand behind hour hand. Height 5 5/8”.
The style 5 Big Ben was made through 1949.
A style 5 Big Ben with a quartz movement was introduced in the late 1990’s (please tell me if you know the year of introduction). The reproduction can be identified by having a sweep alarm indicator (instead of having the alarm indicator in a sub-dial below the numeral “12”). Also it has a battery compartment instead of two winding keys. It was available in an all chrome case (the originals always have a painted case.
A miniature of the style 5 was made in 1997, with only 5,000 made. It has a quartz movement.