5 minutes on the wrist - The Ball Engineer Master 2 Slide Chronograph
Ball Watch is an American brand, founded in 1861 by Webb Ball, a man involved in the creation and development of the American railroads, that have effectively connected the Eastern to the Western coast of the continent. Ball Watch is widely known in the US and in Europe too, quite a little in Italy; for quite a few years now it has been able to boast a partnership with BMW for the realization of some dedicated collections. It preserves today the spirit of its American origins (it is now a 100% Swiss watch brand), that of creating sturdy, heavy-duty watches, with a series of original technical feats, such as the adoption of a microtubes illumination system instead of the most common SuperLuminova-covered indexes, widely used by Swiss brands (with the exception of Rolex and Japanese brands).
I have known the brand for at least a couple of years, and I've always appreciated its ability to create tool watches with remarkable anti-shock and antimagnetic properties, proof that the brand aims to produce authentic watches, to attract connoisseurs and those who look for a good content-to-price ratio. Such robustness hasn’t always gone hand in hand with what is needed in an everyday watch, where comfort, subtlety, sporty elegance will finally make you turn from an emotional choice to an usual but ordinary one.
The Ball Engineer Master 2 Slide Chronograph combines these two aspects, mixes them and thus represents the beginning of the brand's 2.0 phase, where its unmistakable product values match a less brutal yet refined style, already found in the the Ball collections for BMW. True to its mission of interpreting sport watches differently from other brands, the Ball Engineer Master 2 Slide Chronograph introduces a nice, useful and aesthetically pleasant function, replacing the common chrono pushers with a small slide that activates, stops and resets the chronograph. This is not a first in watchmaking, but it is the first time that this solution is being adopted for an entry-level high-end mechanical watch. The functions are in fact two, as the Ball Engineer Master 2 Slide Chronograph is, to all effects, a single-push piece chrono.
The chrono pushers' removal makes the case a small monolhyte, with the same neat style of a three hands timepiece, with the addition of the chrono function. A sort of squaring of the circle. The feeling is that of a big watch, after all the case is 47,6mm wide and 15mm thick, with a style quite similar to that of a diver's watch (perhaps for its vague and fortuitous resemblance to an Aquatimer Chrono) and a finely detailed design. If the case's shape, a bit concave, is from crown to lug typical of the Engineer's collection, especially on a Hydrocarbon, the most detailed job has been done by designers on the bezel and the amazing steel bracelet, with the result that the Ball Engineer Master 2 Slide Chronograph is the premium timepiece of the brand's product offering and is a lure for those, such as myself, who appreciate a perfect match between case and bracelet, that is usually proof of how a case has been designed, molded and then milled.
The raised indexes and the chrono registers placed at least 3mm further below, give the black matte dial, embellished with small red accents here and there, a convincing depth. It is perfect as it is, as a “Panda” dial, that some readers could call upon, would have looked out of place, and possibly crowded a watch that essentially revolves around the case's concept, making it too trivial. I'm happy to see that, compared with the first release of this model, of which you might find traces online, designers at Ball have removed the double RR (Rail Road) logo from the central chrono seconds hand, that had little to do with this watch, and I've been quite impressed with how easy it is to wear: the main problem with the watch is the stainless steel version’s considerable weight, although the amazingly finished bracelet makes those from most acclaimed brands pale in comparison. The case, as the most observant would have noticed, also features an elegant case back with a motif that reminds of old divers’ cases, with the so-called Supercompressor like closure.
The Ball Engineer Master 2 Slide Chronograph is “substance”, like every Ball watch: it is shock resistant up to 5000Gs, antimagnetic up to 4800A/m. An option to take into serious consideration if you're among the “early adopters”, or are in search of a brand that communicates with tech features rather than famous actors or digital glitter, of which we all have had quite enough.
It retails, in dollars, at 3300 in the full stainless steel version and approximately 3200 in the rubber strap version, which wasn’t available during my “intrusion” at the Ball's booth in Basel. A very competitive price for a nice watch that has rightfully entered my personal wish list.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Ball Watch; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter - Watches & Luxury