Associated with the American Railroad system, Ball Watch is now a Swiss watchmaker that flies under the radar but delivers some serious value and quality. Offering a ton of value for the money, this Ball Roadmaster Marine GMT is no different. A titanium watch with a ceramic bezel and a COSC-certified GMT movement, it’s more than a worthy competitor for significantly pricier options like the Tudor Black Bay GMT or the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT. The Marine GMT seen here is the black dial and green/black ceramic bezel model, but there are more than 20 color options by my last count.
The Roadmaster Marine GMT leans into some of the brand’s quirks, but it’s still mainstream enough for a broader appeal. While it doesn’t have an independently adjustable hour hand, the Marine GMT does have a novel pusher system for setting the GMT hand. Along with the bidirectional ceramic bezel (with 24 clicks), this allows you to track three time zones. You’ll see the pushers on the left side of the case, one at 10 o’clock to move the GMT hand forward and another at 8 o’clock to move it backward. It’s incredibly easy and simple to use, though I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s taste. A simple rotation of the pusher in either direction locks it, with another rotation in either direction to unlock. It’s very simple and easy to use — kudos to Ball.
As for the titanium case, the proportions are reasonable at 40mm-wide, 14mm-thick, and a lug-to-lug height of 47.8mm. That lug-to-lug measurement may be technically accurate, but the way the end links fit adds to that number. The practical lug-to-lug measurement is more like 51mm when you factor in that added bit. I wish Ball had used a half-link for the first center link, as it doesn’t really curve downward on the wrist, resulting in a rigidity I could do without. These issues would be moot if you changed the bracelet or prefer to wear it on a strap, but I’m judging it based on the product as it is.
That said, the bracelet nicely alternates between having titanium H-links and polished steel center links (the Butterfly clasp is done in steel, as well). Overall, it’s quite comfortable, and I appreciate the beveling done on the H-links. The titanium case goes a long way in keeping the watch lightweight, scratch-resistant, and tough. When you also factor in the 200m of water resistance, I think it’s fair to say we are talking about a very durable travel watch that can easily handle what 99% of us can throw at it.
This being Ball, the lume is excellent with 28 tritium gas tubes on the dial and Super-LumiNova on the bezel. The applied indices double as lumed numerals and are such an excellent touch as well as a testament to Ball earning its cult favorite status.
The COSC-certified automatic RR1203-C movement is a modified ETA 2893-2 with an in-house GMT module that allows the unique pusher configuration, as well as the day/date complication. According to Ball, this is the first GMT with a day/date complication (though the Seiko SARN001 and Ulysse Nardin El Toro could also stake this claim). The RR1203-C operates at 28,800 vph and has a 38-hour power reserve.
A COSC-certified GMT in a titanium case with ceramic bezel, the Ball Roadmaster Marine GMT would be a solid value even in a crowded market segment. Alas, the GMT market is relatively tight with Tudor and a couple of others dominating the under-$5,000 market. It’s not completely perfect, lacking an independently adjustable hour hand — but at least significantly makes up for it with the pusher system that’s unique and unobtrusive on the wrist. All things considered, the Roadmaster Marine GMT more than easily warrants its price of $3,099. I previously mentioned the many color options that are available, which you can browse here. For everything else to do with the brand, visit ballwatch.com.