HANDS-ON: The Ball Endurance 1917 Series is dedicated to the heroic explorer Ernest Shackleton HANDS-ON: The Ball Endurance 1917 Series is dedicated to the heroic explorer Ernest Shackleton

HANDS-ON: The Ball Endurance 1917 Series is dedicated to the heroic explorer Ernest Shackleton

Fergus Nash

Ask anyone to name an explorer of any kind, and there’s a high chance that you’ll hear the name Ernest Shackleton. Although his fame faded after his final expedition and death in 1922, the past 50 years or so have seen a resounding recognition of his heroic exploits in the Antarctic. The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 is particularly revered for Shackleton’s intrepid leadership, where he and a crew of five men battled unthinkable conditions to rescue the entire primary party without loss of life. The Ball Endurance 1917 series is dedicated to Shackleton and that expedition, named after the Endurance ship.



The case

Although the Endurance was ironically crushed and wrecked by the ice drift it became stuck in, the cases of the Ball Endurance 1917 watches are indeed as hardy as their name suggests. Ball use 904L stainless steel which has more chromium, molybdenum, nickel and copper than the typical 316L steel used by most watches. This not only gives it a slightly different lustre in the polished surfaces, but is also even more resistant to the corrosion of seawater, extreme temperatures, and acids. The entire case is polished to a sheen, which is quite a rare statement for a tool watch. It adds to the old-world charm of the watch, granting a sense of luxury alongside the durability.

The style remains the same across the watches, with a gently flowing lug terminating in clipped ends, but each of the four in the Endurance 1917 series has a different set of measurements. The smallest and largest diameters are held by the time-only Ball Engineer Master II Endurance 1917, with a 40mm case that’s 46.6mm long and 13.6mm thick, and the 45mm diameter version that’s 52.9mm long and 14.05mm thick. The flagship model is the Engineer III Endurance 1917 GMT at 41mm wide, 47.6mm long and 13.15mm thick, and finally the Engineer III Endurance 1917 TMT with its unique complication is 42mm wide, 50mm long, and 13mm thick.

The dial

Despite the year 1917 appearing in the name of the series, the look of the watches are all up to Ball’s modern standard of aesthetics. There’s an air of tradition about them, especially with those that include the Ball signature ‘RR’ counterweight on the seconds hand, but the blazing sunburst finishes on those dials give a thoroughly contemporary feel. The Engineer II Master Endurance 1917 are the simplest of the bunch, with their three-hand displays and large date magnifier. The 40mm version is available in silver, blue, black, and ice blue, while the 45mm reference can be had in black, ice blue, or green.

The Ball Engineer III Endurance 1917 TMT is equipped with a fascinating temperature gauge, using a patented mechanical thermometer that operates between -35°C to 45°C (-31°F and 113°F). You can choose between a green or ice blue dial displaying the temperatures in Celsius or Fahrenheit, and it’s also available with a black TIC case coating. The Engineer III Endurance 1917 GMT is a great all-around option with it’s fourth GMT hand as well as a 24-hour chapter ring, colour-matched to the dial in either ice blue, grey or blue. You also have a choice of colour for the tritium gas micro-tubes that glow in the dark, between the rainbow assortment or the standard yellow and green.

The strap

The Engineer III Endurance 1917 TMT in its black-cased reference comes with a black rubber strap, but all other combinations arrive on a 904L steel bracelet with folding buckles. The Engineer Master II watches have a slightly more utilitarian look with an Oyster-style bracelet, featuring brushed outer links and polished centres. The TMT and GMT watches are a bit more flashy, with the same arrangement of polished and brushed surfaces but now on a steeply bevelled H-link style.

The movement

All of the Ball Endurance 1917 series include movements from Ball with COSC certification, allowing them the title of chronometers and accuracy between -4/+6 seconds per day. The calibre RRM7337-C featured in the GMT model is a new flagship for Ball, manufactured in-house. They all beat at a smooth 4Hz sweep, and have power reserves suiting a daily wearer between 38-42 hours. They’re also shock resistant to 5,000Gs and antimagnetic to 4,800A/m, proving their reliability and hardiness. The movements are hidden behind solid casebacks, but Ball decorate them with beautiful engravings. The Engineer Master III GMT models feature the standard Ball train picture, while the time only Master II and TMT feature an image of the Endurance in full sail.

The Ball Endurance 1917 series pricing and availability:

Each watch in the Ball Endurance 1917 series is limited to 1,000 pieces, with the option of choosing your own number as you check out. You can choose your options and buy one from the Ball store here. Price: US$2,049 (Engineer Master II 40mm), US$2,649 (Engineer Master II 45mm), US$3,199 (Engineer III GMT), US$3,549 (Engineer III TMT)

Brand Ball
Model Engineer Master II Endurance 1917
Engineer III Endurance 1917 GMT
Engineer III Endurance 1917 TMT
Case Dimensions 40mm x 46.6mm x 13.6mm (Master II 40mm)
45mm x 52.9mm x 14.05mm (Master II 45mm)
41mm x 47.6mm x 13.15mm (GMT)
42mm x 50mm x 13mm (TMT)
Case Material 904L stainless steel
Water Resistance 100m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Black, silver, green, blue, ice blue, grey
Lug Width 20mm (Master II 40mm)
22mm (Master II 45mm)
20mm (GMT)
21mm (TMT)
Strap Steel bracelet
Rubber strap
Movement RR1103-C (Master II 40mm)
RR1108-C (Master II 45mm)
RRM7337-C (GMT)
RR1601-C (TMT)
Power Reserve 38 – 42 hours
Availability Limited to 1000 pieces each
Price US$2,049 (Master II 40mm)
US$2,649 (Master II 45mm)
US$3,199 (GMT)
US$3,549 (TMT)