A short while back on my online watch magazine Escapement, I reviewed the Ball Watch Fireman Storm Chaser Pro. Released in 2014, this chronograph, with its highly legible display, is attractively priced and exhibits a robust demeanor which makes it an ideal watch for daily wear.
I recall attending a careers lesson at school and being asked about my chosen profession. Aged 15, I proffered several suggestions, including accountant, army officer, policeman and dentist. My fellow students also mentioned similar professions as well as notions of becoming teachers, nurses and doctors.
Ironically, my career path never followed the path discussed in that cold uninspiring classroom. Indeed, I wonder how many stated ambitions were ever realized. Often individuals remark that my occupation is unusual and seem to struggle with the concept of writing about wristwatches for a living. However, if my job appears unusual to some, then I don’t know what they would think of Dr. Joshua Wurman’s “typical day’s work.”
Dr. Wurman is a meteorologist and has been a brand ambassador for Ball Watch Company since 2008. Dr. Wurman’s specialty is the study of extreme weather. Moreover, he is president of the “Center of Severe Weather Research (CSWR)” and his professional role has seen him develop innovative methods for locating and analyzing tornadoes and hurricanes.
He has been responsible for creating many inventions in the field of meteorology including the “Doppler on Wheels.” The CSWR’s Doppler on Wheels (DOW) network of three equipment-laden trucks are dispatched and positioned near extreme weather. They capture useful data that can be used to warn of similar impending events in the future. Dr. Wurman’s work is said to have contributed to saving many lives.
Dr. Wurman and BALL Watch Company seek to mitigate the impact of extreme conditions. Indeed, the watch company has gained a reputation for its robust watches and its association with Dr. Wurman seems logical.
On hearing the name of this latest watch from Ball, the Fireman Storm Chaser Pro, recently launched at Baselworld 2014, I was expecting to see an armor-plated ensemble that exhibited a tough exterior but lacked any aesthetic beauty. Indeed, my pre-conceived idea was that the watch would be grotesquely styled in the pursuit of exceptional resilience to impacts and shocks.
I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised when I was subsequently presented with this tasteful, classically styled bi-compax chronograph. This is a handsome timepiece and, despite its sturdy construction, would prove the ideal complement to both formal and casual attire.
Three dial variants are available, in black, gray and white. While all three colors offer excellent readability, my preferred option is the white-dial version, with its unparalleled cleanliness, and this one is the focus of my review.
The hour and minutes are indicated by silver-colored hands. They are partially openworked near their fulcrums and each features one of the company’s legendary micro gas tubes, which exhibit a green emission in restricted light.
The black central chronograph seconds hand is very slender and features an orange tip, which incorporates another micro gas tube. This emits a green hue in the dark. At the opposite end to the tip, a counterbalance resides near the fulcrum of the hand, adorned with the brand’s logo.
Applied hour markers confer a tidy, uncluttered appearance to the dial. Each features a micro-gas tube. The hour markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock emit a vivid yellow hue in darkness while the hour marker at noon exhibits a vivid shade of orange at night. The remaining hours appear green when deprived of natural light.
The day and date are displayed at 3 o’clock and are presented side by side on two separate disks. The black characters used are free of serifs, timeless in design, and simple to read.
A small seconds display resides at 9 o’clock. To the casual observer, it may resemble a power-reserve indicator; however, this is not the case. The scale depicted is only partial, effectively interfacing with the seconds hand only 25% of the time. Once the wearer is familiar with this aspect, it does not detract or mar owner enjoyment.
The two chronograph counters sit in series, aligned on a north-south axis. The lower subdial incorporates a 12-hour chronograph counter, whereas the upper subdial, located below noon, is a 30-minute chronograph counter. The color scheme and dial layout exhibit a “Yin and Yang” equilibrium which seems to represent the very antithesis of the stormy domain of Dr. Wurman’s world. Each chronograph hand emits a blue emission in the dark.
Adjacent each hour marker, Arabic numerals aid interpretation and, adorning the inner flange, a chapter ring helps interpret split second measurement.
The black bezel is marked with a telemeter scale.
A quality I have talked about before with Ball Watch Company products is the excellent finish of its stainless steel cases. The company delivers exceptional quality at this price position and shames some costlier offerings from rival brands.
The case diameter of 42 mm is very wearable and should prove suitable for the vast majority of potential customers. The height of 15.65 mm, while not ultra-thin, is certainly not unduly cumbersome.
The chronograph pusher at 2 o’clock starts and stops the stopwatch function. It has a smattering of orange detail, judiciously applied to its form. The chronograph pusher at 4 o’clock resets the chronograph and incorporates black detail.
A further area worthy of note is the anti-reflective treatment on the convex sapphire crystal. It is of good quality and grants enhanced legibility. Indeed, “legibility” and “readability” are words I often find myself repeating, but these are certainly virtues this watch possesses.
The exhibition caseback accords a view of the self-winding movement.
Prospective buyers have a choice of stainless steel bracelet with folding buckle or a calf leather strap presented with a steel pin buckle. The bracelet has a quality feel to its construction, capable of shrugging off minor impacts with little fuss. However, the strap is warmer in appearance and would be my choice. In particular, I appreciate the combination of black calf leather detailed with playful orange stitching. Indeed, the stitching adds interest to the strap and coalesces with the color of the push-piece at 2 o’clock as well as other dial details.
The automatic Caliber BALL RR1402 features a simple oscillating mass with minimal adornment.
Examining the architecture of the movement reveals that Caliber BALL RR1402 is based on the legendary ETA Valjoux 7750. The reputation of this movement is well known. It is ultra-reliable and has won favor with many watch companies and watch collectors alike. While some purists will argue in favor of fully-integrated chronographs, myself included, there is no escaping its ease of assembly and reliability. Moreover, the simple construction allows the watch to be easily serviced and repaired.
The Ball Watch Fireman Storm Chaser Pro is shock resistant to 5000G and water-resistant to 100 meters.
Even though I am highly unlikely to drive towards a storm in my daily working life, I do appreciate a watch that has been made to tolerate extreme conditions. Ball Watch Company has repeatedly shown a talent for innovation with several patents to its name. Many of its inventions confer robustness and function, enhancing wearability. The Ball Watch Fireman Storm Chaser Pro proves to be no exception.
The highly readable display, with its sublime nocturnal legibility, is magnificent. Moreover, the case diameter of 42 mm should have widespread appeal. Indeed, I found this timepiece accorded a very comfortable fit.
This watch has an appealing mix of qualities which differentiate it from many of its competitors. It blends handsome good looks with superb shock resistance and is presented in a high-quality case, delivered at a very accessible price.
- Model: Ball Watch Fireman Storm Chaser Pro
- Reference: CM3090C-L1J-WH
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42 mm; height 15.65 mm; water resistant to 100 meters; sapphire crystal front and caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; day; date; chronograph
- Movement: RR1402 (based on ETA Valjoux 7750), self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve of 48 hours
- Strap: Black calf leather strap with steel pin buckle
- Price: £2,170 (as of 5-17-2014)