Borrowed Time: Ball Watch Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime

We’re all just beginning to emerge from an extended and seemingly interminable period of locked-down isolation. We’ve been sheltered in our homes and, for those of us still reporting on the global watch industry, keeping in touch with our peers and colleagues, across the U.S. and around the world, remotely — and perhaps more often than before. One might think that a world-time watch — one that allows you to discern the time in another of the world’s 24 major time zones with a simple twist of the city-ring bezel — would be the ideal timepiece for such an extended work-from-home scenario. And, in the absence of a watch that actually can test you for coronavirus, one would be right. Fortunately, I had such a watch for an extended review period: the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime.

The watch’s multilevel bezel combines a world-time indicator and diving scale.

The watch’s steel case clocks in at wrist-friendly 42 mm in diameter, with brushed finished surfaces and gently curving lugs. The fluted bezel does double duty with both a dive scale and the aforementioned 24 city indications. It turns unidirectionally (counterclockwise) with a scantly audible series of clicks — good for inconspicuously checking the time in another part of the world while you endure yet another Zoom teleconference. The crown screws down securely into its double-shouldered crown guard. The stylish “RR” in relief on the crown’s surface is a nod to the “railroad” watches that earned the company, founded in 1891 by Webb C. Ball, its worldwide fame.  

Ball’s railroad (“RR”) watch history gets a shout-out on the relief-engraved crown.

Turning the bezel operates the watch’s signature world time function, A black-colored insert is highlighted with the names (in white) of 24 world cities representing all 24 major world time zones. Simply line up the home city with its corresponding hour on the 24-hour scale within the city disk (divided into black and white sectors for nighttime and daytime hours) and you can then easily read, in 24-hour format, the time in any other time zone in the world; 3:30 PM in New York, for example, will also reveal that it’s also 12:30 PM in Los Angeles and 9:30 PM in Geneva. And if you’re in London and you’re invited to a conference call at 1:00 PM in Dubai, a simple twist of the easy-to-grip bezel will remind you to set your alarm to rouse you before 9:00 AM.

Different colors of luminous material stand out on the dial in darkness.

Like every Ball Watch, this one’s major talking points include its high level of nighttime luminescence, due to its generous use of tritium, inside micro-gas tubes, on many of its dial elements. Tritium, (which is a mildly radioactive substance but not harmful in the minuscule amounts found here) has been largely supplanted by Super-LumiNova in the watch world, but the former does have some distinct advantages — primarily the fact that it doesn’t need any external charging by a light source (though this particular watch did spend plenty of the time in the sun on much-needed nature hikes) and also that it simply glows brighter for longer periods of time.

The rubber strap fastens the watch snugly to the wrist.

On the black dial, the 12, 9, and the remaining hour indices are drenched in orange-colored lume, while the 10-minute numerals on the bezel’s city disk are a contrasting lime green color. The sword hour and minute hands, along with the rectangular weight on the central orange seconds hand, all glow a bright green in low light. Further defining the watch as a timepiece for multi-taskers is the combination of day and date, set separately by the crown. In its first pulled-out position, turn the crown forward (clockwise) to move the date numeral at 3 o’clock in one-day increments; turn it the opposite direction to advance the day. Pay close attention, though: the day abbreviations are in both English and Spanish.

The luminous numerals and indices are composed of micro-gas tubes.

As a legitimate divers’ watch, it has a case water-resistant to 300 meters (1,000 feet). Inside, on display behind a sapphire window and framed by a scalloped-edge caseback held by six screws, is a chronometer-certified movement, Caliber RR1501C, based on the ETA 2836-2 and largely unadorned except for the côtes de Genève on the rotor. The self-winding movement ticks at a frequency of 28,800 vph and amasses a power reserve of 38 hours in its fully wound state.

Automatic Caliber RR1501-C is visible through the caseback.

The watch attaches to a black rubber strap with a checkerboard-textured inset motif, and attaches with a somewhat industrial-looking steel pin buckle, attached and held together by tiny screws.

The Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime packs a lot of functionality into a fairly small and very reasonably priced package, maybe a little too much. The day and date can be notoriously difficult to read due to their minuscule size, and the combination of dive scale, two-row city ring, and 24-hour GMT scale makes for a very cluttered border on the dial’s outer edge; at times the main time display seems to be struggling for breathing room. All that said, for those of us who simply adore the unavoidably busy look of world timers, this one is a worthy member of that globe-trotting club. Best of all, it offers a Business Class experience at a Coach Class price: just $3,149.

Manufacturer:Ball Watch Company SA, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Reference number:DG2232A-PC-BK
Functions:Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, world time indication
Movement:Ball caliber RR1501-C, automatic, based on ETA 2836-2, frequency = 28,800 vph, power reserve = 38 hours, COSC chronometer certification
Case:Stainless-steel case with screw-in crown, antireflective sapphire crystal, water resistant to 300 meters
Bracelet and cla­­sp:Rubber strap with pin buckle
Dimensions:Diameter = 42 mm, height = 15 mm
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