Ball Engineer II Annual Calendar Watch Hands-On

Ball Engineer II Annual Calendar Watch Hands-On

Ball Engineer II Annual Calendar Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Ball watches is set to shake up the industry a bit over the next few years as they are close to reaching a critical mass with design, technology, and partnerships. You should already know that Ball is involved in a strategic partnership with BMW for the production of pretty good looking Ball for BMW watches (hands-on here). The relationship is going to be a major part of Ball's breaching new markets and increasing awareness. Which is a good thing because the decidedly modern and masculine Swiss watchmaker has a vision toward timepieces that seems to be inline with the expectations of enthusiasts and not just marketing people.

A lot of watch lovers know Ball as "the high-end maker of tritium gas tube watches." True enough, Ball is probably the highest-end watch maker that uses naturally self-glowing tritium gas tubes in all of their watches. The move was a bit controversial as the remarkably handy tubes for darkness illumination were previously thought to only be of interest in military and other professional-use timepieces. Ball proved to the world that tritium gas tubes appear attractive to more people than just those who purchase Traser and Luminox watches. Having said that, Ball watches have a lot more tricks up their sleeve.

Ball Engineer II Annual Calendar Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Ball Engineer II Annual Calendar Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For 2013 there are a few new developments for Ball, and two of them are included in this upcoming Annual Calendar watch. What we have here is still an early prototype, and I am not sure if the name has been finalized yet. Though this timepiece will be hitting Ball dealers soon. For now we are calling it the Engineer II Annual Calendar watch. More on the calendar in a moment. We liked this watch so much we included it in our list of 10 best watches for Baselworld 2013. For 2013 Ball has developed a new movement safety feature they call "SpringLock." The system is literally a little cage (patented) that sits over the balance spring to shield it from shocks - most notably small, ongoing vibrations. Ball claims that the system reduces the effect of shocks on the movement by over 30%. That isn't just to protect the movement from damage, but to also ensure greater accuracy when a watch is subject to constant vibrations.

A video below explains the system even better but Ball's technical director explained it by suggesting the shock a watch would endure by being on the wrist of a drummer. A watch on a drummer's wrist isn't subject to brutal shock, but rather lots of ongoing shocks. These vibrations would not only highly affect the accuracy of a movement, but could also damage it after prolonged exposure. SpringLock is deadly simple in execution and offers a great deal of benefit. To begin Ball will include the SpringLock system in the Annual Calendar and a few other watches, but its hopes are to deploy the technology across the board to all Ball watches.

What do you think?
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  • MarkCarson

    I was impressed with Ball while at BaselWorld as they are looking at the fundamental problems related to accuracy (like vibration/shocks) as engineering challenges to be solved. So you don’t see Ball tourbillon with an implied benefit, rather you see an advance that improves real world accuracy and reliability. 
    Before I met the Ball people, I used to wonder how ‘American’ they could be as they are a Swiss company  – but one that promotes an American heritage for what I assumed was strictly marketing purposes. But I found to my pleasant surprise that they are true to the goals of Webster Clay Ball and feel like they have a heritage to protect and extend, not just market.

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  • Kris C

    Love this annual calendar – the dial, case and bracelet are all delicious. I might prefer a better handset, but this one is not awful.
    I do see that according to the dial, these are T25 tubes. Thats a bit of a ripoff considering Ball can use T100 tubes. Hopefully the finished product ups the ante in this department.
    Now just need to wait for the inevitable question that pops up almost daily on WUS “Can I wear an automatic watch while golfing (or shooting, or running, or masturbating, or whatever other similar banal question thats been asked a trillion other times)?” so that now it can have the fresh answer of “well, yes, as long as it’s your shock-protected Ball Engineer II annual canendar!”

    • MarkCarson

      Kris C I may be wrong here, but I thought that the T25 was in indication of total radiation. So if a Ball model has more (or longer) tubes, it may have to marked as T100 while few/shorter tubes may only emit at a level that qualifies for the international T25 marking standard. I don’t believe that T25 or T100 is an indication of the life or strength of an individual tube.
      So this watch is nwt the self-abuser’s automatic of choice? Ha ha ha. Cheers

  • DG Cayse

    Ball, IMO, has come very close to the ‘perfect’ wrist watch. This new technology is a serious evolutionary step in watch making.
    Ball has a great heritage of craftsmanship that works in the real world. Durability, dependability and accuracy. It looks like it is continuing. This new shock cage is just the treat for real world usage.  As I watch my watch vibrate while motorcycling I have many times wondered about how this is affecting my watch. And as for tritium – once you have it you will never be satisfied with mere lume again. (T25 is what I have in 3 of my watches and it is excellent)
    One of these new Ball models may well be on my wrist in the near future. Good review.

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  • funNactive

    I’ve been wanting to get an annual calendar & I wear tritium watches to bed. This could be a versitile all round watch.