Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original - tritium sandwich

Today we will talk about the Swiss company Ball and the watches of this manufacturer - the model Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original DM2118B-SCJ-BK. About watches that have very interesting (even unique) design and engineering solutions for this company, and for the watch market as a whole. But first things first.

A few years ago, tritium bulbs of self-activated illumination (one of the main "chips" of Ball) were represented mainly by thin round tubes. This form of flasks gave certain features to the design of the dial. The dial with marks and numbers made of thin cones, although it glowed well in the dark, was a bit like a pattern from matches or an old calculator scoreboard. The profile of the flasks did not allow varying the thickness and shape of the dial elements.

Subsequently, Ball began to use flasks of different thicknesses and profiles, which gave the design of the dials more variety and the luminosity increased significantly. And still, there were no Arabic numerals glowing with tritium, round and triangular elements (such familiar ones on diving watches) and, it would seem, could not be. Till…

Until the manufacturer began to use a "sandwich" design in its tritium illumination. The backlight design itself (when a layer with cutouts is placed on top of the surface with a phosphor, which form the pattern) is not new. For example, for Panerai it's just a classic. But for tritium luminous elements with a limited ability to change shape, this was an ingenious solution.

And so, when I saw the presentation of the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original with tritium backlit Arabic numerals on the bezel and the classic circle and rectangle index markings with a triangle at 12 o’clock (a la Rolex Submariner), I realized that it was “they”! The very Engineer Hydrocarbon I've been waiting for. As far as I know, there is no other watch with such a classic diving design in an inextinguishable tritium version.

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However, I'm talking about tritium ... This model has a lot of other interesting things. Like many other watches, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original has a non-manufactory, but thoroughly "pumped" caliber. Everything is fair!.. Let's count!.. ETA 2836-2 gradation Chronometer is taken as a basis (for a moment!). It's enhanced with our signature SpringLOCK®, Amortiser® and SpringSEAL® shock-absorbing technologies to keep you accurate in the toughest drops and bumps.

The movement is housed in an inner case made of mu-metal, a material that increases resistance to magnetic fields up to 80A/m (like the Rolex Mildauss, for example). This is accompanied by a proprietary crown protection system and a branded bracelet clasp (which is a work of metalworking and milled almost from a single bar of steel).

And how are things with the processing of the case and ergonomics? In my opinion, Ball is following a path similar to Breitling. Produced diver's watches are brutal, technologically advanced and have a catchy design. According to the characteristics, this is a tool watch, but they are finished brightly and with pretension. Polished hands, case sides and middle links of the bracelet, "piano-lacquer" luster of the sapphire bezel (how many divers do you know with a sapphire bezel).

The shape of the case is quite unusual: the bezel has a larger diameter (42 – 43 mm) than the case (40 mm is declared). Therefore, reference data on the size of these watches can be misleading. In fact, the watch is not at all small and even too big for my hand (17,5 cm). Despite the large thickness (14,55 mm), the watch sits on the hand quite comfortably. This is the merit of rounded ears. But the weight of the model is quite impressive. On a full branded bracelet there will be 180-190 gr. The metal manufacturer has no regrets.

“But what about the disadvantages,” you ask? "Missing"? "The clock is perfect"? Why ... Let's talk about them. Personally, I am confused by the white day-date windows on the dial. But this is a common problem for many manufacturers who do not want to replace stock day and date light discs on purchased movements. The bracelet, for all its merits, quickly “catches” scratches on polished links, and the proprietary system of fastening to the case, although very reliable, clearly does not make replacing the bracelet a simple procedure. The clasp is good, but massive and, when worn, cuts the hand a little with the sharp edges of the buttons.

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Unfortunately, Ball doesn't make their wonderful 20mm wide rubber straps. So, branded rubber can only be put on Original with a case diameter of 43 mm and a lugs width of 21 mm.

Despite this, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original model is one of the most interesting and beautiful in its price segment and definitely deserves attention. And, of course, we are waiting for new models with a “tritium sandwich” from Ball!


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