I’ve liked Westclox Style 5 Big Ben and Baby Ben alarm clocks ever since my Grammy gave me a black Style 5 Baby Ben when I was 14 years old. The Style 5’s case shape was designed by Henry Dreyfuss, well-known industrial designer, and is covered by U.S. Design patent Des. 114262, applied for in November 1938 and issued in April 1939.
There are two major Style 5 Big Ben cases: Style 5 and Style 5a. They look much the same, but the 5a has a thicker case. Style 5a cases say “S4-D” on the bottom of the base, while Style 5 cases say “69-C”. The Style 5a’s base is 2 3/16″ from front to back, while the Style 5’s base measures 2″.
The Style 5 and 5a Big Ben alarm clocks are in the Westclox database at https://clockhistory.com/0/westclox/series/series-13-1/style-28-1.html. That page shows the vintage USA made models I know of, and two of the battery-operated quartz reproductions.
You will see that the Electric Style 5a Chime Alarm was the first of these models (introduced in December 1938 in black).
The key winds came out in 1939 (the Loud Alarm in Style 5a black case and Chime Alarm in Style 5 black or ivory case.)
In 1940, the Ivory case Electric Style 5a Chime Alarm was added, and around July 1941 the Electric Style 5 (not Chime Alarm) in ivory replaced the Electric Style 5a Chime Alarm models.
All models were available with plain or luminous dials. The models called “black” are actually a gunmetal painted finish. The gunmetal color has variations, and earlier ones seem to have a two layer finish.
Production was suspended in July 1942 for the war and resumed in 1945.
In November 1946 the Loud Alarm movement was redesigned to be thinner (using the same gears with modified plates) and the Loud Alarm became a Style 5 (still made in black only).
Ivory Luminous Style 5 Chime Alarms usually have a brown-banded dial, but this luminous dial was changed to solid brown for the last year of production (see pictures above).
The Style 5 was replaced by the Style 6 in 1949. Some quartz Style 5 reproductions were made recently.
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