At the end of last month, historical watchmaker Ball Watch — best known for purpose-built tool watches over its 129 -year history, most famously the groundbreaking railroad watches that made its reputation — unveiled the latest update to its distinguished diving collection, the Engineer Hydrocarbon Original. The new model commemorates 15 years of the series, revitalizing the original design with several professional-grade technological advancements, both uncommon in the market and especially rare at this watch’s price point.
The Engineer Hydrocarbon Original’s compact 40 x 14.55-mm brushed and polished steel case is easily identifiable by its unique crown protection system. The classical-looking dial of the watch is surrounded by a curved sapphire unidirectional diving bezel insert, which is not only incredibly durable but also features a new micro-gas-tube technology for its markers, in place of traditional lume, which is reportedly able to glow one hundred times brighter in dark conditions such as those encountered during deep dives.
Underneath the protective sapphire crystal, we find a slightly curved, sunray black dial stylized with an outer white minute ring; circular, rectangular, and triangular hour markers; and day and date indicators at the 3 o’clock position. Passing over the dial are two extended sword-style hands for the hour and minute indication, while a rectangular-tipped hand counts the seconds and features a Ball Watch logo as its counterweight. Both the hour markers and hands feature the same micro gas tubes, adding to the legibility of the watch in deep diving conditions.
Inside the 200-meter water resistant case is the automatic Ball Watch Caliber RR1102-CSL, which is a highly altered version of the ETA 2836-2. The movement, with its 38-hour power reserve, is COSC chronometer-certified, shock resistant to 7,500 Gs, and antimagnetic to 80,000 A/m or 1,000 Gauss — the latter two attributes achieved via a new multilayer case design and anti-shock hairspring and regulator system. The movement is protected behind a solid caseback featuring a scuba-diver motif; the multi-layer aspect of the case is visible here via the ring of circles surrounding the image.
The watch as a whole seems poised on the cutting-edge of dive watch technology, featuring not only an impressive level of luminescence, reminiscent of elements on haute horologerie timepieces like those from HYT, but also a serious degree of accuracy and shock and magnetic resistance, comparable to those on Omega’s professional divers. All this is made even more impressive considering the watch’s relatively small size, at 40 mm; obviously Ball has opted for the more classical proportions of a historical dive watch rather than a more modern sizing of 42 mm or larger.
For serious diving enthusiasts, however, the 200-meter dive rating might be regarded as somewhat underwhelming, along with the 38-hour power reserve. A professional-focused model, which is already well-equipped with a number of forward-thinking technological aspects, perhaps should have striven for a 300-meter or higher dive rating, and a few more hours on the reserve. Nonetheless, the watch is still very interesting, and is sure to make a splash for this series’ 15th anniversary.
The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original will be available directly through the company’s online shop later this month, and through Ball authorized dealers later this year, priced at $3,249.