The Ball Skindiver III Beyond combines tritium gas lume with an impressive movement The Ball Skindiver III Beyond combines tritium gas lume with an impressive movement

The Ball Skindiver III Beyond combines tritium gas lume with an impressive movement

Borna Bošnjak

With their origin story told many times, Ball’s railroad-timing roots have become well-known. These days, however, the brand has branched out into a multitude of watch types, with the Engineer line-up being an almost all-encompassing one. From GADA and explorer’s watches to deep divers, today we focus on the latter, with the Ball Engineer M Skindiver III Beyond.

Despite its long-winded name, the Skindiver III Beyond is actually one of the more simple Ball designs, with only a three-hand-plus-date configuration aimed towards the most legible experience possible. Naturally, there are tritium tubes aplenty, with a few more surprises subtly stashed along the way.

ball engineer m skindiver iii beyond dial close up

Going from inside out, you’re first met with a subtle blue sunburst dial that gives way to a rounded rehaut containing the minute markings at its outermost edges. As you may have come to expect from Ball, the ghostly green hue of the indices and hands is thanks to micro tritium gas tubes that offer a glow that no luminous paint could ever match thanks to its half-life of more than a decade. The shape of the hands is in line with what I’d expect from a capable dive watch, and I’m also a fan of the skeletonised red tip of the minutes hand. It’s a small design element that helps tell time at a glance. What I wasn’t too fond of is the choice of typeface for the dial. The Ball branding, Chronometer script, and short spec sheet are all in different fonts types and sizes. Add to that the large “RR” flourish of the seconds hand counterbalance, and the date cyclops, and the dial just seems busier than it needs to be.

ball engineer m skindiver iii beyond dial

Where the Skindiver III Beyond really impressed was its sapphire bezel which also contains tritium gas tubes. Lumed bezels are rare enough as they are, even though having such a feature in a dive watch that is actually used by professionals would seem like a no-brainer. As for its colour, the bezel ever so slightly differs from the dial, adopting a green tinge.

ball engineer m skindiver iii beyond wrist 2

Even though Ball doesn’t note it in their press release, the Skindiver’s name is enough of a giveaway for its design inspiration. Don’t be fooled, however. This is no vintage re-issue in a mid-century diver size. WIth a 41.5mm diameter and 13.8mm thickness, you’ll have to carefully look for aesthetic cues reminiscent of skin divers. The overall thickness is actually quite commendable considering the additional depth needed to house the gas tube-equipped indices, handset, and bezel, all the while providing 300 metres of water resistance.

ball engineer m skindiver iii beyond case profile

The case profile reveals it best in my opinion, with barely curved, drilled lugs sporting a wide, brushed top surface. There’s also a more complex mix of finishing than you’d expect from a skin diver, with alternating brushed and polished surfaces starting in a subtly coin-edged bezel and flowing down the case side into the bulging caseback. I can see this being a point of contention with some sports watch fans who would wish for a fully brushed case, though I have to admit, a tinge of polish here and there really livens up a watch in my eyes.

ball engineer m skindiver iii beyond bracelet

The H-link bracelet matches the steel case in construction and manner of finish, with highly polished mid-links and sides, finished in a butterfly clasp. This is another proof that, despite its name and looks, Ball didn’t intend the Skindiver III Beyond to be just an out-and-out diver, with a touch more refinement provided by the chosen type of clasp. Having said that, getting the perfect fit will be a little more difficult considering there are no micro-adjustment holes, though Ball do provide half-links for slightly finer adjustment. In terms of style, I was surprised to see a relatively non-sporty bracelet on a 300-metre diver, and would love to see an updated clasp with on-the-fly adjustment as well as quick-release spring bars.

ball engineer m skindiver iii beyond caseback

Finally, let’s discuss the movement. Though it’s hidden by a diver-emblazoned caseback, the RRM7309-C is pretty much the cream of the crop in terms of Ball calibres ,with COSC certification and an 80-hour power reserve, only trumped by the 7309-CS that features a silicon balance spring. Though the brand have often used off-the-shelf calibres with really cool features like a mechanical temperature gauge, the RRM7309-C is listed as a manufacture movement. It’s not made quite clear whether Ball is collaborating with an external movement manufacturer to produce this movement exclusively for the brand – an increasingly common trope in a landscape when in-house movements seem to be all the rage – but its specifications speak for themselves.

While the looks of any watch are purely subjective, the Engineer M Skindiver III Beyond makes an objective argument with a couple of its features. The first is Ball’s excellent usage of micro-gas tubes which has only improved over the years, and is seemingly no longer restricted to thin, and at times awkward-looking, strips of lume. The other is the RRM7309-C movement. While still fairly new and with plenty of time to prove itself, the on-paper specs are hard to look past. It’s chronometer-certified, with a 4Hz beat rate and an 80-hour power reserve that trumps many at this price point. Though it’s not on display here, it’s actually quite a handsome movement too, with clever packaging of a smaller-diameter calibre affixed to a wide baseplate, making for a more appealing aesthetic in large display casebacks.

Ball Engineer M Skindiver III Beyond pricing and availability

The Ball Engineer M Skindiver III Beyond is available now as a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. Price: US$3,699

Brand Ball Watch Co.
Model Engineer M Skindiver III Beyond
Reference Number DD3100A-S2C-BE
Case Dimensions 41.5mm (D) x 13.8mm (T)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 300 metres, screw-down crown
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Blue sunburst, tritium gas tubes
Strap H-link steel bracelet, butterfly clasp
Movement Ball RRM7309-C, automatic, COSC-certified
Power Reserve 80 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Limited to 1,000 pieces
Price US$3,699