HANDS-ON: The BALL Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer 40mm HANDS-ON: The BALL Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer 40mm

HANDS-ON: The BALL Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer 40mm

Fergus Nash

BALL are a bit of an oddity in the hierarchy of Swiss watches, having enjoyed such a rich history but not always getting the attention they deserve. They’re not exactly a budget brand, but their prices are definitely reasonable, so they fit into a very versatile pocket of luxury. Having been updated with three fresh colour options, the BALL Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer 40mm could easily be a contender for a one-watch collection, or at least an incredibly durable daily wearer that looks and feels like quality.

The case

As a watch based around simplicity and subtlety, the 40mm case is presented entirely in a highly polished finish. Although BALL’s history is steeped in engineering and toughness, this watch is far more aimed at those who want a luxury object that can withstand the rigours of daily wear.

The use of 904L stainless steel ensures not only an increased resilience to tarnishing, but also retains a more brilliant polish. The sides of the case are the best example of this effect, proving an almost distortion-free mirrored image. You definitely get the impression that this is a nice watch right away, and 100m of water resistance is enough to make it completely versatile without the need for over-the-top specs or aggressive tool-watch stylings.

BALL Engineer III Marvelight

The 40mm diameter and 47.5mm lug-to-lug length is a happy medium for most wrists, giving a lot of room for the dial to show itself off without feeling overbearing. The thickness of 13.15mm may seem fairly high for a watch with only time and a date complication, however the extra thickness is necessary for both the anti-magnetic shield and the tritium tubes incorporated into the hands, which then need to be stacked higher for clearance.

The dial

BALL Engineer III Marvelight

The BALL Engineer III Marvelight dial isn’t shy about its similarity to the modern Datejust, although it’s the differences which make it undoubtedly its own watch with its own character. The BALL personality of technical prowess and precision is evidenced by a sleek dauphine handset, the elaborate counterweight on the seconds hand, and the depth of the applied indices. The new available sunburst colours are all delectable, one being a sumptuous dark green, a lighter blue, and a decadent wine-red fumé.

BALL Engineer III Marvelight

What sets this company apart from most other Swiss brands is the use of tritium gas tubes in place of painted Super-Luminova, providing a constant glow regardless of how much UV the watch has been exposed to. You can see the tubes, although they’re more like glass boxes, surrounded by a silver frame that creates a nice sparkle as the light catches all of the edges. The glow of the indices and hands are all green with the exception of the 12 o’clock marker which is more of an orange-red.

The bracelet

With large polished mid-links and softly brushed H-links, the bracelet on the BALL Engineer III Marvelight really feels at home with the classy-yet-sturdy head of the watch. It has precisely cut chamfered edges that enhance its sharp sensibilities, although the underside of the bracelet is slightly rounded for comfort on the wrist. My only slight complaint with the whole watch is the use of a butterfly buckle that doesn’t have buttons to open it, so prying it open can be tricky at first. There’s not much room for micro-adjustment either, but you should be able to find a comfortable enough fit using the two 5mm half-links.

The movement

BALL Engineer III Marvelight

The BALL RR1103-C is based on the COSC-certified variant of the ETA 2824-2 with 38 hours of power reserve and a beat rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour, but most collectors are familiar with those specifications. Where BALL’s ingenuity comes into play is more to do with what surrounds the movement, having added an anti-magnetic shield made out of ‘mu-metal’. This allow incorporates nickel, iron, copper, and molybdenum that attracts magnetic fields before deflecting them away from the watch, giving it resistance up to 1,000 Gauss. For people working around railway equipment or even just most high-power electrical devices, the added peace of mind is welcomed.

The BALL Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer 40mm pricing and availability:

BALL Engineer III Marvelight

The BALL Engineer III Marvelight Chronometer 40mm is limited to 1000 pieces per dial colour and has an RRP of $2,349 USD.

Case Material 904L Stainless Steel
Case Dimensions 40mm x 47.5mm x 13.15mm
Water-Resistance 100m
Dial Blue, green, red
Straps 904L Steel bracelet
Movement BALL RR1103-C
Power Reserve 38 hours
Complications Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Price $2,349 USD