Looking at the dial, the large, arrowed hour and minute hands have the tritium tube running through them. The GMT hand, plus the bi-directional 24-hour bezel, allow you to keep track of three time zones. There’s also a decent but not terribly attractive date window at 3 o’clock that I could probably do without, as the cohesion of the rest of the dial is awkwardly chopped by it. Overall, it’s a good-looking dial but one that really lacks a lot of personality, especially when you consider the choice to remove the “RR” decorated seconds hand and plain black dial. It might look there’s a bit too much “plastic” for some people’s taste, but there isn’t really anything offensive about it.
As for the movement, the watch features the automatic Ball RR1201-C which is a modified ETA 2893-2. It beats at 28,800 vph (4 Hz) and has a 42-hour power reserve. It’s a movement that’s worked for Ball with their other GMT watches, and is a solid, COSC certified modified ETA. You won’t get to see it though, as there isn’t an open case back. Rather, Ball has decorated the steel case back with a silhouette of a globe’s longitudinal and latitudinal lines. Around the circumference is a cities index with corresponding GMT time reference.
The steel case back helps function as a Faraday cage, designed for magnetic resistance. This helps the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT to be magnetically resistant to 4,800 A/M which is the minimum requirement to be considered a passably “anti-magnetic” watch. Ball does have their patented “A-Proof”anti-magnetic system that was debuted last year with the Ball Engineer II Magneto S watch (Hands-On here) which raises that resistance to 80,000 A/M by allowing the bezel to control an “iris-style” anti-magnetic shield. Of course, this system would clash with a rotating GMT bezel like on this watch.
The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT has a good 300 meters of water resistance, which is certainly a very respectable number. Ball makes a note to talk about the “signature toughness” of this watch. It can resist impacts up to 7,500 Gs, which is more than the 5,000 Gs offered by a lot of other Ball watches. I want to mention something about these kinds of metrics when they’re used to discuss said “toughness” of a watch. The 5,000 Gs of shock resistance is based on the International Standard ISO 1413 test. What this really means, is that the watch can withstand a drop from 1 meter (3.28 feet) onto a hardwood floor. The 7,500 Gs of shock resistance in the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT takes that up to a 1.5 meter (4.9 feet) drop onto a hardwood floor. Compare that to the most basic Casio G-Shocks that can withstand a 10 meter (32.8 feet) drop. Obviously, comparing resistance in a mechanical movement in a steel case to a digital watch in plastic is like comparing apples and oranges. My point, however, is that I really don’t understand the need to equivocate the ability to fall off a dining room table with “toughness” and it’s always kind of annoyed me.
Overall, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT is a great watch with a distinctive look and a lot of personality. A durable and handsome piece with great legibility and even greater legibility in darkness. Make sure to try the watch on and see if it works for you, but there isn’t much to keep me from recommending it to someone looking for a masculine watch they won’t see strapped around everyone’s wrist. Ball is the kind of brand for someone secure enough to accept that it’s not an instantly recognizable status symbol, but rather one for a wearer who appreciates the history, quality, and aesthetic of the brand. Price for the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT (Ref. DG2016A-SC-BK) is $3,500. ballwatch.com
>Model: Hydrocarbon Engineer AeroGMT Ref. DG2016A-SC-BK
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a GMT watch that’s big on character and uniqueness as opposed to recognizable flashiness.
>Best characteristic of watch: Solid feel of the watch on the wrist and bracelet flexibility.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Crown protector can be seen as an uncomfortable gimmick by some.