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.

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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.

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