The Ball timepieces find their origin stemming from the beginning of time, in a sense. The need for accurate time was spotted by Webster Clay Ball and the Ball watchmakers have been innovating ever since. The Engineer Hydrocarbon is the culmination of years of improvement in watchmaking technology the most noticeable of which would be the automatic movement and the tritium luminous tubes.
It can be tough to stay relevant in the watch making industry no matter how long you have been around and it takes a concerted approach to stay ahead of the curve. The Ball watchmakers have patented two aspects of their timepieces and the Hydrocarbon features both.
The first is the crown-guard system that nestles the crown between two pillars and then holds it in place with a hinged clasp. This makes sure the crown is properly held in place and also protected from bumps or from hooking on things. Making sure the crown is always properly screwed down helps you safeguard your AeroGMT II from water damage.
The other patented feature is the folding buckle which is the epitome of watch engineering as the name suggests. The buckle is made from a block of stainless steel that is brushed and locks the timepiece safely on your wrist.
Having features that identify your brand as forward thinking and unique are vital and Ball have done this so well here. The Hydrocarbon edition is part of a limited release of 1000 pieces.
AeroGMT II Case
The forward facing part of the case is brushed perfectly to contrast the polished crown protection system and the side/middle case area. The case is 42mm in diameter and 45mm when taking the bezel overhang into consideration.
The bezel is red from 3 to 9 o’clock and the other half is black. It has 24 hour markers around the bezel allowing for 1 of the 3 time zones to be tracked. The back of the case is marked with the Ball watch brand in the middle and the different time zones along the edges for reference when adjusting your watch hands.
At 13.5 mm thick the case is quite thick so it can get in the way when being worn with formal wear but the case protection eases the effect of the crown getting in the way or catching on your clothing. The brand logo that is usually on the top of the crown is instead put on the hinge that cases the crown. The stainless steel bracelet is 22mm thick and brushed to match the front of the case. The bracelet suits this timepiece just right and I couldn’t imagine a different strap on here.
The black dial sports 43 tritium gas tubes which luminate this Hydrocarbon all-day. The gas tubes are different colours for the different time zones with green on the bezel markers, orange coloured markers for the 1 to 12 hour markers around the chapter ring and a blue hue for the third time zone.
There are sword watch hands as the main timekeepers and a red arrow hand for telling the other times. Over this dial is a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coat. There is a small date window at 3 o’clock and the timepiece has a feeling of depth given off by the raised lip with the 12 hour markings on.
This Swiss made watch has a COSC certified Swiss movement powering its drive train that goes at 28,800 bph and has hacking and handwind. The 21 jewel ETA 2893-2 is similar to the 2892 except with the GMT functionality. This piece will stay accurate for many years and has a 38 hour power reserve.
I am not usually drawn to sports watches but the Engineer has been so well thought out and exquisitely put together that I can’t help but enjoy it. The crown-protection is maybe a bit much but it is still designed with purpose and has functional value. The folding buckle is well designed and fits together flawlessly. Tritium isn’t as effective has SuperLumiNova with its initial strength but doesn’t lose its glow as quickly. It also makes it simple to use different colours when designing the look of your piece.
The story behind the Ball watches is rich and entrenched in the actual history of timekeeping and the bedrock of the start of the American economy, the railways. Dual time is useful for those working across different time zones or travelling regularly so if this isn’t you then it is more of a novelty. The size is comfortable and wearable for long periods of time as long as your sleeves aren’t too tight around the wrists!
To have a look at the full Ball range of watches you can visit their official website here.