Take a dark plunge with the Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture ChronometerFergus Nash
Making a dive watch is kind of like throwing out a hook and hoping some fish take a bite these days. There are just so many out there in so many different configurations that it’s difficult to stand out, no matter how unique your brand is. Ball have amassed quite a large catalogue of dive-capable watches now, having evolved greatly since their railroad days. The Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer embraces its niche appeal and intends to look just as good with the lights on or off.
Lots of blacked-out dive watches are aiming to appeal to a streetwear style or are otherwise chasing form over function. The Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer actually uses its appearance to accentuate its technical ability, using titanium carbide as a coating over the stainless steel case. TiC is a form of extremely hard ceramic, and it can even be more scratch-resistant than sapphire with a Mohs hardness rating up to 9.5. The bezel is also topped with sapphire, giving as much protection as possible to the micro gas tubes that form the markers.
While black-coated cases tend to look smaller on the wrist than regular ones, the dimensions may still be discouraging to those with small wrists. The lugs are quite far-reaching at 53mm, which should still be comfortable on larger wrists. The 42mm diameter is balanced for its overall beefiness, and the 15.2mm height sits pretty much at the limit of most people’s tastes. The matte finish keeps things tactical and utilitarian, while the sheen on the sapphire bezel accents the polished links on the bracelet, should you opt for it.
The dial of the Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer doesn’t take any risks, maintaining its general aura of sternness. At least, that’s how it first appears in light conditions. The most notable feature of modern Ball watches is their use of micro gas tubes for luminescence, safely capturing tritium gas in glass tubes to fluoresce without the need for UV charging. This means that for at least 10 years, they’ll shine at full brightness before needing replacing. Ball offer two options for the lume, one with no-nonsense green and orange accents, and one rainbow variety of green, white, yellow, blue, orange, and pink tubes. You very rarely see that kind of playfulness with traditional lume.
The dial itself is very legible, with the bold hands easily distinguishable from the rectangular shape of the hour hand and the sword shape of the minutes hand. The seconds hand features a yellow tip as well as its own micro gas tube, and of course the ornate Ball logo as the counterbalance. The previous iteration of this model included a day complication next to the date at 3 o’clock, however the simplification to a date only keeps the dial much more balanced. If you’re not such a fan of the black-on-black look, you can also opt for the sunburst blue dial which makes the whole thing significantly dressier.
The name Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer is definitely long-winded, however pointing out the Manufacture Chronometer is quite an important part of this model. While it was previously powered by an ETA 2836, Ball have now made the switch to a manufacture calibre they call the BALL RRM7309-C. It’s not only an improvement on exclusivity, but the power reserve has also been extended to 80 hours while retaining the 4Hz beat rate and the smooth sweep which accompanies it. In typical Ball fashion, it’s resistant to shock and magnetism for added peace of mind, and the case is sealed for a diving depth of 200m. It’s also a COSC-certified chronometer for an accuracy within -4/+6 seconds per day. The caseback features a sapphire display window so you can appreciate the decoration and winding rotor.
The Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer is available on an integrated-look rubber strap engraved with the Ball name, but the watch looks far more at home on the TiC-coated steel bracelet. The H-link design matches the case’s matte finish perfectly, and the polished centre links show off a little bit of refinement to break up any monotony. The lug width is 22mm, so you have plenty of aftermarket options if you want to experiment with something like a NATO strap.
There are a lot of black-cased dive watches on the market, and the Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer doesn’t look drastically different from them in the light of day. However, considering the scratch-resistance of the titanium carbide, the benefit of an upgraded movement, and the intrigue of tritium gas lume, it sheds its competition rapidly. It’s definitely a watch for someone who would want to wear it often, as its cost is far higher than a novelty piece, but it’s more than capable of being a great daily wearer for the right person.
Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer pricing and availability
The Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. Price: US$3,449
|Model||Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Manufacture Chronometer|
|Case Dimensions||42mm (D) x 15.2mm (T) x 53mm (LTL)|
|Case Material||TiC-coated stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||200 metres|
|Strap||TiC-coated steel bracelet|
|Movement||RRM7309-C, in-house, automatic, COSC-certified|
|Power Reserve||80 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, date|
|Availability||Limited to 1,000 pieces|