The 2017 Couture Time watch exhibition rolls on this weekend in Las Vegas, and we continue to seek out notable watches that we missed at Baselworld. Today we put the spotlight on the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DEVGRU — a new divers’ watch designed jointly with members of the U.S. Navy’s Joint Special Operations Command, aka SEAL Team Six.
Ball Watch Co.’s recently established research-and-development company, Patrick’s Labs, developed the watch with members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), established in 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis as the military’s first dedicated counter-terrorism unit and since evolved into the elite unit known as SEAL Team Six. (The watch’s “DEVGRU” suffix is an abbreviation of “development group” in the NSWDG’s full name.)
In developing the watch, Ball’s R&D lab focused on extreme shock-resistance and ensuring that the movement would function and retain its accuracy after major impacts. The company redesigned the regulator assembly with the addition of a patented anti-shock system that stabilizes the movement in case of a shock and ensures that it maintains its initial position. It also added a shock-absorbing seal system around the movement, allowing both it and the winding crown to move slightly while absorbing impacts. This patented system also includes protective padding that prevents parts from breaking. The case’s flange rises slightly higher than the sapphire crystal, which protects the latter from impacts. Finally, a hinged, locking crown protector secures the crown against accidental operation.
Like all Ball watches, the Engineer Hydrocarbon DEVGRU also prioritizes nighttime dial legibility. The dial features 59 glass micro tubes, filled with light-emitting H3 gas, on the hour and minute hands and hour indices. Light energy is released when the H3 molecules strike the internal colored surface of these tubes, and the luminosity can last up to 25 years without requiring a recharge from any outside light or energy source (unlike the more commonly used Super-LumiNova, which requires a light source to activate). This powerful, continuously emitting light — up to 100 times brighter than other luminous substances used on watch dials — allows the wearer to read the time in pitch darkness.
The Ball Watch Hydrocarbon DEVGRU has a 42-mm stainless steel case, water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet) and magentism-resistant to 4,800 A/m. The movement is the Swiss-made automatic BALL RR1102-SL (based on the ETA 2836-2) with automatic winding, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a 38-hour power reserve. The watch is available with a black or a blue dial, and on either a rubber strap with a buckle or a tapered stainless steel bracelet with a patented folding buckle. Available in the summer or fall, its price is tentatively set at $2,199 on a strap and $2,299 on a bracelet.