In July 1959, a disgusted railroad worker wrote to "Railway Age" magazine asking why it was "that even though wristwatches can now be made accurate enough to satisfy both the Air Force and the commercial airlines, railroads should still insist on the pocket watch ?"
The editor of the magazine sent a copy of the letter to Mr John Walker Barriger III (Head of Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad) for comment, he had some ideas on the subject but wasn't going to respond without checking with other experts in the industry. "As I reflected upon the fact that non-railroad transportation, industrial, military and technical operations which require equal or even more complete accuracy of timing than railroads do, we are controlled in respect to time by men who use wristwatches." he said later, "it seemed to me that the latter should also have railroad approval".
"The wristwatch is far more convenient, since railroaders seldom wear vests any more." he added, and trousers are more and more likely to come without watch pockets." He suggested that Mr. Donald P. Fleming (General Manager, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad) should review the matter with staff members, and with the Train Rules Committee of the New York Central System. When none of these found anything wrong with the idea, Mr. Barriger made one of the practical moves for which he is noted and that was, to find out where and how to arrange for getting a wristwatch that was just suited to railroad requirements. He got in touch with Mr. Jack R. Pugh (official watch inspector to more than a dozen railroads) to discuss both what special features such a watch should have, and whether one already was made, or would have to be designed.
Since Mr. Pugh had been pondering the matter for a Long time, he had plenty of ideas on the subject. Indeed, he had already worked out needed modifications for adapting the Elgin "B. W. Raymond." a long-time favorite with many railroaders in America.
Designing a watch wasn't new to Mr. Pugh as he has designed others, including a special number particularly adapted to the needs of nurses. After discussing all phases of the question, Mr. Barriger laid down 10 requirements for approval of any wrist watch for railroad use.
1. A 23-jewel movement.
2. The new balance wheel (DuraBalance).
3. Unbreakable mainspring (DuraPower).
4. Special stainless steel case, indented top, easy to wind.
5. Shock proof.
6. Water proof.
7. Non-magnetic shield around the movement, inside case.
8. Non-magnetic steel dial.
9. Six adjustments, three of which are to be for position.
10. Movement stops when stem pushed out for setting.
Mr. Pugh got touch with Elgin and Hamilton. The two principal makers of American railroad watches, and before the end of the year, each had submitted samples of wristwatches designed to meet the needs indicated by Mr. Barringer.