Prior to Baselworld 2014, Ball released images of its upcoming Fireman Storm Chaser Pro Watch that we covered here. I felt that it looked great and was eager to see it hands-on at the show. I can now say that the sporty, slightly retro design does not disappoint. Forget that Ball is combining the concept of a fireman's watch with one meant for chasing tornadoes. In fact, they even posit that the telemeter on the bezel is to be used to measure the distance you are from lightning–then again, that is among the very few things a watch telemeter can do….
We've seen a lot of Ball Fireman watches over the years, which is one of their major collections outside of the Engineer family. Often times, the chronograph versions are lovely, and here you have a familiar design mixed with Ball DNA that works wonderfully for those who appreciate the look of historic sport watches. For 2014, this newest version of the Fireman Storm Chaser Pro comes with three dial color options as well as a strap or steel metal bracelet.
What I really like is that the bright orange colors that so caught our attention in the early renders look equally great on the actual watches. Ball uses orange as an accent color on the dial, chronograph start/stop pusher, as well as on the strap for the stitching. It gives just enough color without being too much. Otherwise we are given high-contrast dials with an ample amount of legibility.
The design is not without its quirks, but they are nothing major. For instance, the hands in the subsidiary dials are arguably a bit too short, and the main hour and minute hands have no real purpose to be skeletonized (especially because part of the point is to have tritium case tubes in them). Even though the subsidiary dial hands don't have the gas tubes they are still painted with lume which is nice. Of course, it wouldn't be a Ball without liberal use of self-illuminating tritium case tubes for illumination. Here, a T-25 volume of tubes are used (Ball sometimes goes up to T-100).
The Fireman Storm Chaser Pro comes in a 42mm wide steel case that is very attractively finished with contrast polishing. The design of the chronograph pushers makes it feel unique, and I like the orange and black colors in each of them. You'll notice from the side the pushers display additional color. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and is also shock resistant.
With a relatively thin bezel, the watch wears a bit larger than it is, and the bezel insert is aluminum. Ball does have ceramic bezel inserts, but perhaps none that is this thin, yet. Ideally in the future I'd like to see ceramic replace aluminum as much as possible. Over the dial is a curved and AR-coated sapphire crystal.