In 2015, I took a trip to Boston with some friends. It was bitingly cold, and being the poor planner I am, I hadn’t bothered to pack gloves. We had made our way to Newbury Street for some shopping, and I thought perhaps I’d find something to prevent frostbite. This was in my very earliest days of being involved with watches. I had just received a watch from my wife for our wedding, and in figuring out what watch I might have wanted that to be, I had found myself on the forums. You know how the rest of that story goes. When I got to Newbury Street, home to a few very high-end watch shops, I was a nascent enthusiast, teetering on the edge of the abyss of this hobby, but not yet having fallen in. And I needed gloves for my frozen digits. So, we went into what appeared to be a trendy men’s shop called “Ball and Buck” — think high-end denim, leather jackets, flannels, and heavy knits — and I grabbed myself a pair of shearling-lined deerskin gloves (I also eyeballed the manager’s gold Reverso). That store is closed now, but Ball and Buck remains, although as a far more utilitarian field apparel company. That more focused retailer has released a collaboration with Luminox, the Ball and Buck x Luminox Atacama Field Watch, which imbues the Luminox field model with a camo dial and blaze orange Ball and Buck accents.
The Ball and Buck x Luminox Atacama Field Watch is a fairly simple take on the normal Atacama. The case remains identical to the standard model. It’s one of the more generic cases I’ve encountered, measuring 44mm in diameter and 14mm thick, with slab sides and a completely brushed finish. It’s not blocky, but its presence on the wrist is undeniably substantial; this will be too big for many but fits squarely into the rugged aesthetic of Ball and Buck, and even more neatly into the big boy, thick-wrist vibe that Luminox goes for. It has a domed sapphire crystal and a more than adequate 200m water resistance, with a large, easy-to-operate screw-down crown, which gets the Ball and Buck hunter logo.
Two editions of the Ball and Buck collab will be released. The non-limited edition will receive a single strap, a tan leather that is comfortable right out of the box. The Launch Edition, limited to 76 pieces, will include a green two-piece nylon strap. Both 24mm straps are comfortable and fit the look of the watch, but I was disappointed that they lacked quick-release bars and was similarly surprised by the lack of drilled lugs on the case, which certainly would’ve been able to accommodate them. To boot, I got quite the tail on the leather strap, as it can accommodate an outrageous 8.5″.
The approach for this collab seemed to be quite simple, but I think collabs need not be overcomplex, so in this case, simple isn’t a problem. Ball and Buck merely injected a camo pattern on the dial and put its logo at 6 o’clock. The dial looks rather flat at a glance, but has four layers to it: the sloped chapter ring; the outer circle with a green minute ring, camo hour ring, and silver 24-hour scale; the sunken central dial; and the very subtle recessed day and date frame.
The applied logo adds a shiny accent, but I’ve always thought the applied Luminox logo was a bit mushy, needing more definition, especially with the lower letters. The brushed hands are flat and simple, and sometimes seem to be avoiding the light, appearing black and without texture. They contrast enough with the dial, and the indices and printing stand out well enough so the watch is plenty legible, even in mediocre lighting. Of course, the watch delivers the tritium lume that features on every Luminox watch. For those who don’t know, tritium tubes last for about 25 years and are always glowing. The glow, however, isn’t as brilliant as Super-LumiNova which has just seen the sun but instead offers a consistent level of luminescence. The result is legibility in darker situations, but poorer performance in low-light environments where traditional lume is bright enough to show itself.
Most Luminox watches are fitted with quartz movements, which provide more accuracy and durability than mechanical movements, but this upmarket collab is powered by an automatic Swiss Sellita SW220-1. Reasonably, the case has a display back allowing a view of the mechanism. It offers about 41 hours of power at 28,800 vph. When it comes to basic movements, I’ll always prefer mechanical to quartz, but I wonder here if it actually makes the most sense. I don’t know the force of using a rifle, quartering a deer, or riding an off-road vehicle, but I wonder if all that impact will affect a mechanical movement more than a quartz.
The Ball and Buck x Luminox Atacama Field Watch is priced at $1,248 USD including the leather strap, while a special Launch Edition with limited edition numbering, an extra green nylon strap, a certificate of authenticity, and a premium watch box is priced at $1,498 USD. Maybe I can accept the base price, but the added $250 for an extra strap and a few things that will undoubtedly languish in a closet makes less sense to me. Pricing aside, one needs to understand that consumers like me (read: pedantic watch nerd) are likely not the target market here. This watch is for those who have an affinity for Ball and Buck and even more so for those who enjoy hunting and camo not as a hobby but as a lifestyle. Those people will find a solidly-built watch with a reliable movement and appealing design. The Launch Edition is limited to 76 pieces, while the rest of the run will be limited to 100 pieces. For more information, please visit the Ball and Buck website.