I never assumed that a world timer dive watch would be useful, but consider the fact that it is popular enough for Ball watches to have produced a second run of them. It was several years ago that Ball originally released the Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime, and earlier in 2016 they came out with a slightly tweaked version which is the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime watch that you see before you.
The old Diver Worldtime is similar enough that I wouldn’t have reviewed the watch twice. Since this is the first review of such a watch, we can bulk the old and the new together. What they updated for the reference DG2022A-S3AJ-BK / DG2022A-P3AJ-BK Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime watch is really just the dial. Compared to the original from 2010, the 2016 versions look a bit more sporty and legible, in my opinion, but the differences for the new version are rather small. Ball points to the fact that the new versions have updated technology, but what exactly that means is unclear.
Ball indicates that the technology which offers the world time complication is in-house. That is because they built a module over a base Swiss ETA automatic movement which combine to form the Ball caliber RR1501. In addition to the time, date, and day of the week, the movement has a 24-hour world time indication ring that’s popular on both sport and dress watches these days. With that said, world time watches of this ilk have historically been exclusively in the domain of dress watches. It was brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Girard-Perregaux that helped make this very useful type of complication something people wanted to see in sport watches.
World time complications as seen in this timepiece are now common but also very useful and simple. They rely on two elements. First is a disc that displays a 24-hour scale which rotates once each day. Second is a list of reference cities on the outer periphery that can ideally be moved. This is to help people set their local time. What people do in order to read the time in other time zones is start at the top with the local time and then look around on the dial for the reference city name that reflects the time zone they want to know. All they need to do is look and see what the hour is on the disc where it meets the time zone you want to reference. The minute hand on the main dial is used to read the minutes. See? It is really simple and effective.
Given its simplicity, such a complication doesn’t need to cost a lot. Sure you can spent upwards of $10,000 for a watch with this feature, but if you spend that much, I hope you are getting more that you are seeking aside from this feature since it can be found for a lot less. In addition to Ball, brands like Frédérique Constant and Alpina have quite affordable world timer watches with more traditional styles.
What makes the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime a funny watch is that the world time complication isn’t one that you’d normally find in a dive watch. Historic absence alone is not a good reason to dismiss it, but you have to know that this isn’t the type of thing you’d immediately need whilst underwater. With that said, most people who own high-end dive watches these days clearly aren’t spending a lot of time underwater with them. So given that a lot of people like sporty dive watches for daily wear, and because the world time complication is convenient, the marriage of these elements begins to make sense.
Dial design for the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime is where a lot of the novelty in this model is, and what you have even more of now is a modern look with some minor decorative flair. Ball does a decent job of giving the dial a three-dimensional look given the various layers and splashes of red which add some color. Gone are the more traditional-looking sun and moon symbols on the world time ring which is now just black and white in order to represent day and night times.
Another interesting feature is that the internal rotating diver’s timing bezel doubles as the world time reference city ring. That is clever, but it does mean that you’ll find it challenging to use both the world time complication as well as the countdown timer on the internal bezel. It isn’t a big deal, but it is worth knowing about in the event you are someone who actually does need to use these features together.
Of course, this is a Ball watch, and with that comes the use of Tritium gas tubes for darkness lighting. Ball offers a full array of tubes in the hands, hour markers, and in the rotating internal timing bezel. Looking at this and other watches with tritium tubes in the dark is always very cool.
The simple, brushed case is in steel, 45mm wide, 15.4mm thick, and water resistant to 300 meters. With the look and feel of a serious tool watch, this is Ball at its best, with something solid, bold, and masculine without being very loud. Ball also promises shock resistance to 5,000 Gs and anti-magnetic performance up to 4,800 A/m. I wouldn’t call this the prettiest watch in the world, but the design grows on you like a useful truck. You may have not chosen it for its looks, but its utility and confidence quickly endear themselves to you.
While the core Ball product works well, some of their existing case designs such as the Master II are getting a bit old and could use some updating. There is a classic appeal to it since it is technically modern but with traditional proportions. However, I feel like I want a bit more edginess from the design to match the contemporary feeling of the dial.
The outside of the case has screw-down crowns for both the main crown and the upper crown that controls the rotating inner bezel. I do quite like the Engineer Master II matching steel bracelet, but on the black rubber strap it doesn’t look so bad either and is really comfortable. I actually think a lot of people would prefer to wear it that way. With that said, the difference in price between the version of the Diver Worldtime on the strap and the bracelet is just $100. So if you get the watch, it is probably best to choose the version with the bracelet and then just buy a strap to have it as an option, since that is cheaper than getting an optional bracelet.
If you like the looks of the dial and appreciate what Ball is trying to do with this product, then I think a lot of people will find the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime a surprisingly useful timepiece. This is especially true for regular travelers who want something cool, sporty, not particularly showy, and that doesn’t look like most other world time watches. Pricing for the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime reference DG2022A-S3AJ-BK / DG2022A-P3AJ-BK watches is $2,899 on the rubber strap, and $2,999 on the steel bracelet. ballwatch.com
>Model: Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime
>Size: 45mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Traveler who wants a unique piece that isn’t particularly loud.
>Best characteristic of watch: Surprisingly functional and good-looking.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Case design can use some updating.