Ball Watch — the company founded by Webb C. Ball in 1891 and whose history is rooted in railroad timekeeping — celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2016, the same year in which the brand has introduced its first in-house mechanical movement, Caliber RRM1101. The movement makes its debut in the new Ball Trainmaster Manufacture, one of the notable new timepieces on display this week at the JCK Watch and Jewelry fair in Las Vegas.
Ball Caliber RM1101, a self-winding movement powering a simple two-hand time display plus date, was developed by Patrick Labs, a spin-off company of Ball Watch that serves as a horological research and development center. It ticks inside an 18k rose gold case measuring 40 mm in diameter and 10 mm thick. The white dial is the picture of classical simplicity, with two slender hands for hours and minutes, a simple date window at 3 o’clock, applied Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock and thin indices marking the remaining hours. The word “manufacture,” inscribed in cursive script, also adds understated elegance.
As with every modern timepiece in the Ball Watch portfolio, the Ball Trainmaster Manufacture is engineered for maximum nighttime legibility, with H3 micro-gas tubes inserted into the hour and minute hands. The H3 gas molecules inside the tiny glass capsules release powerful light energy when they strike the tubes’ colored inner surfaces. The luminosity of the micro gas tubes can last up to 25 years without needing a recharge from an external light source and is 100 times more effective, according to the company, than illumination systems more commonly used in watchmaking, i.e., Super-LumiNova and other luminous paints.
The watch features a grooved crown and a sapphire caseback that allows a view of the movement and its winding rotor, decorated with the Ball watch insignia and the stylized “RR” for railroad, a nod to the brand’s history.
The Ball Trainmaster Manufacture is limited to 125 pieces — one for each year of the company’s existence — and comes on a crocodile leather strap with an 18k rose gold buckle.