It was not all that long ago when we brought you word of Ball‘s new creation that mixes up how we are used to interacting with a chronograph. That earlier article was based only on the PR materials (and photographs) that were made available. Today, we are able to bring you hands-on impressions (and photographs) of the Ball Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph.
Cutting straight to the chase here, what about that clever slider that is used to engage the chronograph? We found it easy enough to operate, and the operation itself is intuitive if you think about what the normal pushers do – the top pusher would start/stop, so you slide up. Conversely, the bottom pusher resets, so you slide down. In other words, you move the slide towards where a pusher would be located for the function you want. We were also pleased to note that the slide has a small tritium tube inserted, something that was not present in the original PR shots.
Speaking of tritium tubes, the Ball Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph is making use of their new flat tubes on the dial. We have seen these before on the Marvelight, but those were much wider. Here, they almost approach the width of the round tubes. This keeps things a bit more subtle, but it also allows for (or at least, it seems to to my eye) a more even glow when viewed in the dark. It also keeps things balanced with the handset, which still relies on the round tubes.
Another thing that struck us was how much more balanced the watch seemed on the rubber strap. In the PR shots, the bracelet seemed entirely too small for the 48mm case. In our hands-on shots, you can see that the contoured rubber strap gives things a much more balanced look. Of course, it is worth noting that this is a big watch. Aside from the noted diameter, the watch is 15.5mm tall. Then again, we are fitting in an automatic chronograph movement, plus all of the requisite protections Ball generally includes (shock protection, anti-magnetism, and a modicum of water resistance). In other words, this is no subtle chrono – this is a beefy tool watch (with some refined looks).
The dial is pretty cleanly laid out, with the sub-registers easy to read (another benefit of a larger case). It is a shame, however, that the day and date wheels are not color matched to the dial – they stand out a bit for my tastes. Additionally, the hour hand does feel a bit chopped. I realize that you need to be able to easily differentiate the hour and minute hands, but something about the scale of that hour hand just feels off to me.
Speaking of some of the design elements, it is worth noting that the Ball Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph was designed by Magali Metrailler, who is all but exclusively designing for Ball now. Previously, she created the “Ball for BMW” collection, and she also did a lot of the Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX watches. That is an interesting portfolio already, and we are definitely looking forward to what else she creates.
In the end, this is another solid tool watch from Ball, albeit one with an interesting twist hiding up its (and under your) sleeve. The Ball Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph can be yours for a price of $3,299 on the rubber strap, or $3,399 on the steel bracelet; availability will be sometime in 2015. ballwatch.com