Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne Watch Hands-On

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne Watch Hands-On

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For 2013, Ball watches are updating the Engineer Hydrocarbon Ceramic XV (aBlogtoWatch review here) that was released about two years ago with the new Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne. At launch it was called the "Spacemaster Airborne," but Ball has since removed the Spacemaster part of the name. Much is the same but the differences are important and likely enough to encourage happy Ceramic XV owners to pick one of these up. Let's take a close hands-on look at the upcoming Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne.

The first thing we noticed about the watch is the major branding change in the name. The Ceramic XV was a sort of a fancy looking climber's watch, and now Ball has recast the concept to being something in the Airborne collection designed for paratroopers. So it went from a climbing watch to a falling watch... Of course the relief art on the case back represents this fact with the logo of the USAF Pararescue team. Another unique thing that I am noticing for the first time is the name of MB-Microtec H3, that produces the world's tritium gas tubes. For whatever reason they now have some branding on the watch.

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Of course all Ball watches have and will continue to use MB Microtec tritium gas tubes for darkness illumination. We love the tubes that are placed in the hands and hour indicators because they illuminate for about 25 years without needing to be charged by light. Compared to the dial of the Ceramic XV, the Airborne's has been redesigned a bit. Gone is the track around the periphery where the numerals are placed, and added is a window for the day of the week, which makes full use of the modified Swiss ETA 2836-2 automatic movement inside.

Speaking of movement modification, the Engineer Hydrocarbon Airbone contains Ball's new SpringLock system over the balance wheel that dramatically reduces the effect of shock on accuracy. We recently discussed the 2013 SpringLock system as it is also included in the new Ball Annual Calendar watch (hands-on here). The embedded video in this post explains more on the SpringLock system. It is a very clever system which increases the durability and performance of an already great watch. Ball also has each of the movements in the Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne watches COSC Chronometer certified for accuracy.

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Airborne Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What do you think?
  • Interesting (2)
  • Thumbs up (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I love it! (0)
  • I want it! (0)
  • Lesthepom

    I do like the idea of the gas tubes but I have never seen one up close I do have a lum-tech dealer close buy but they look a bit cheep and plasticky would like to try on a ball the crown looks a bit climber sum but it is a trademark of ball so it must work for them probably a good feachur if you are diving for crayfish but walking down the high street it looks a bit of overkill it looks like the sort of watch that James Bonds adversary’s would wear as they were trying to beet him to death with a titanium breafcase and then jump out of the helicopter in to piraña infested waters
    I still want one probably just for the cool 3 tone lume it has I would be the only one in the movie theater that knew what time it was without turning on there mobile phone 🙂

  • Ulysses31

    Not the nicest Ball I have ever seen but it’s decent.  What irks me are those day/date windows.  They stick out like sore thumbs on the dial with seemingly no attempt to integrate them with the overall look.  Might as well write day and date on tiny post-it notes and stick them on there.  It doesn’t help that they’re white.  The other strange thing is that the date window isn’t quite centred between four and five o’clock – it looks wonky.

  • TimelyOne

    A very nice piece. I would prefer the Day window adjacent to the nine numeral, and the Date adjacent to the three. The current configuration looks unbalanced. Please use white on black wheels for these complications. The black on white breaks the continuity of the face. I wrote this before I read Ulysses31 comments…methinks he should be doing some consulting work. It is difficult to believe that companies with great engineering strengths, still get the esthetics wrong. Sort of like a Pontiac Aztec grafted onto a Ferrari.

  • Kris C

    Why are they using t25 instead of t100 tritium tubes? I thought Ball has the brightest tubes in the business – but I know of several brands that use t25 (Luminox, etc).

    • Hacker4748

      Kris C AFAIK those are not tubes but the total output of all the tubes on the watch. T25 = everything up to 25, T100 = 26 up to 100.

      • nateb123

        Hacker4748 Kris C You sure about that?  I’ve always been told/read that the value corresponds to the brightness of single tubes ie. T25<T50<T100

        • DG Cayse

          nateb123 Hacker4748 Kris C Nate, this time you are correct. T25 is the designator for the luminance level of each tube.

  • DangerussArt

    Sorry Ball, that’s one frightfully ugly watch. The square industrial looking numbers are just ugly no matter how brightly they glow. baton indices are fine, thanks – better looking and could be brighter (see DeepBlue watches).  They contrast too much with the fussy dial texture and RR script second hand counterbalance. The separate non-aligned date and day windows look particularly bad in white, and as others have pointed out they seem off center. I’m also not a fan of the crown guard appendage mechanism. Distinctive yes, like a third eye or facial scar. Not all Ball watches are this off putting, some are really pretty nice, but I dislike all of the ones with this crown guard snout.

  • Tekky

    I like Balls, I like Tritium.  I have four tritium watches – an original first-gen Traser (mb microtec early on), a Traser Big Date Blue Alarm, a Luminox yatching watch and a Sottomarino diver which is really cool for a store brand.  Excepting the first Traser, they all look better than this Ball.  To me the sword hands don’t look cheap and the day and date are not well positioned.  The bezel should have a tritium pip; superluminova doesn’t cut it.  And I’m actually the target audience!

  • Ryan B

    Crowns the size of Mt. Everest frighten me.

  • Chronoman

    I have never seen a Ball watch in the flesh but I like them a lot, or, at least most of the models. They look really chunky and heavy and too heavy is not good in a watch. Someone please explain the excessive crown(ology) to me.

  • DG Cayse

    Very impressive watch. Ball enjoys a long association with quality and accurate timepieces. Well deserved. This fairly new enhancement of shock re4sistance, along with a remarkably high level of anti-magnetism, is reflective of their company standards.
    A good friend made the switch to Ball from Oris, another brand I like and respect, based on these features. He is very satisfied after 2 years. I have looked at the Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Glow several times. (what a laugh to wear a watch named “Spacemaster Glow). I like it;it is a substantial piece no doubt. But the crown guards and secureing apparatus just digs into the top of my hand too much…’ouch!.’ That is killing the deal for me.
    Balls use of tritium is a real winner. Once one has a tritium affixed watch no other level of luminance will suffice. It spoils one terribly.

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  • RLWM

    Love the crown, wrist presence is excellent.

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  • pauldoherty972

    DG Cayse nateb123 Hacker4748 SuperStrapper NO, the T25 and T (or T100) designations refer to the total content of tritium across the entire watch.  Hacker4748 had it right.
    Ball is unique in that they have the option of using greater than T25 since they went through the process to get approved for it.