June 20, 2013
by Ariel Adams
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.
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.