"The Amortiser" sounds like a banking industry themed super villain. But here it is a cool piece of functionality that you won't find on other watches in this price range. New from Ball watches is the Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital watch, a mouthful of a name, but suitable for a chunky timepiece with this much functionality. I got my hands on this watch, which should be available close to the time you read this.
Ball fitted the Spacemaster Orbital (what I will call it for short) with ETA's newer Valjoux 7754. Newer, as in released in 2003 (or so), which is fresh from the egg compared to some other movements we know and love that have been used since the 1970s. The 7754 automatic is based on the famed 7750, but adds a GMT complication to the mix. Even so, it still has a power reserve of about 46 hours. Not sure why we don't see these used in more watches - perhaps they are very expensive or hard to get from ETA.
The watch is big at 45mm wide, but in titanium so it doesn't feel to heavy. High-grade polish on the case abounds, as well as the Engineer Hydrocarbon style and shape. This is a big watch from Ball if there ever was one! Just see it on my wrist (it is 18.3mm high!). Although it will be a popular piece, the Spacemaster Orbital is limited to just 999 pieces.
Ball researched and developed a special function for the watch called the Amortiser. The allows you to lock the automatic rotor into place to prevent damage to it during high shock activity. To "amortize" the rotor, you need to take off the watch and physically twist the propeller shaped disc on the back of the watch. You can feel it lower a bit and lock down. This prevents the rotor from moving. To release it, you just twist the disc back the other way. Just don't forget to release it after your period of 'high shock' is over. The watch will still function when the rotor is secured off power from the mainspring, and you can still manually wind the watch if you like. This cool piece of technology is perfect for things you do everyday like:
1. Falling from space
2. Wearing the watch while boxing
3. Riding wild elephants
4. Quality time in the centrifuge
5. Recreational machine gun turret operation
6. Standing on Jeeps while mountain off-roading
7. And so much more.
Plus, the Amortiser Rotor-Lock mechanism is said to protect the chronograph mechanism from damage in falls of up to 5.2 meters! The system was very difficult to engineer, and you won't find anything like elsewhere from a price at all close to the Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital watch. Aside from that, the watch is tested cold temperatures of minus 40 degrees, resistant to 100 meters under water, resistant to 7,500Gs of velocity force, and highly antimagnetic.
Also worth mentioning is the new clasp and deployment system that is beautiful. Ball spent a lot of time on this element of the watch as well, and you certainly won't be disappointed by it. The rotating bezel on the watch has navigational markings. Used by some people I suppose. I would have preferred a standard dive style bezel though. The compass indicators on the bezel are however applied with lots of blue luminant. Actually, Ball seems to want this watch to be a navigational instrument. There is a lot of emphasis on the compass theme. The dial has a traditional compass looking design on it, and both the flange ring and the bezel have compass degree indicators. Compass lovers rejoice.
It wouldn't be a Ball watch without tritium gas tubes. There are a bunch of the luminated tubes all over the dial, in a few various colors. Here you can see the black dialed version of the watch. Don't miss the use of gas tubes in the chronograph pushers for a more "spacey" timepiece demeanor. Ball is actually working on a white/silver dial as well. They had a prototype for the dial colored dial, but are spending a bit more time on the design for it. This is clearly a complex dial design, but helps the watch maintain its functional, masculine look. I sat down with Ball watch owner Jeff Hess, who walked me through the watch, and is very excited about its high popularity - even before its release. Price will be in the $4,000 range, and again, limited to just 999 pieces.