Early Ball Hands
My thanks to Tom Brown and Gerald Zimmerman for showing me the way to the US patent office and locating these design patents for me.
Webb's earliest hand design patent was applied for in April and granted in August 1893. An example can be seen by clicking on the link to Jeff Hess's symposium Howard watch. The dates closely match the actual production of the watches and dials.
Interestingly enough, the hands on on 936 Ball Hamilton watches are very similar, but the ball on the hands are further up the shaft. I could find no patent granted for this modification and believe none was applied for. Click on Joel's 936 to view the slight difference.
The pierced hands patent was applied for in 3/95 and granted in July of 1895, matching very nicely the debut of the 938 ORRS watches. This leads me to believe that the pierced hands seen on Ball Hamilton 601 (936) are likely to be replacements.
Correct or original is always subject to opinion and debate, but in view of this documentation, This is the way I would expect the 936's, 938's and early 999's to appear.
IMO Ball simplified his design and the fancier hands and dials went out of favor as he began to disapprove of freakish dials and anything that might distract the railroad employee from instant recognition of time.
Interestingly enough, both styles of hands are still featured in the 1902 Ball co factory catalog!
Scroll down to see the patent designs and texts for these two types of hands.