The Ball Watch Company is based in Switzerland, but unlike other Swiss watchmakers, it was founded by an American. Their story dates back to 1891, when a passenger train from the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad crashed with a mail train near Kipton, Ohio, killing eight people. As it turned out, the passenger train engineer’s watch had stopped for four minutes, leading him to believe the track was clear when it wasn’t. To prevent future accidents, the railroad hired Webb C. Ball to develop improved watches and inspection regimes. Ball set up a system of biweekly inspections for railroad watches, and set stringent standards for accuracy.
It’s been a long time since rail safety relied on the accuracy of an engineer’s mechanical watch. But the railroad remains embedded in Ball’s DNA, inspiring all of their designs. I recently got my hands on the Ball Engineer II Moon Calendar, a unique moon phase watch with a calendar index on the dial. So, how does it perform, and is it a good fit for you? Here’s everything I learned about this beautiful timepiece.
A Tough, Reliable Case
The Ball Engineer II Moon Calendar is engineered from a polished stainless steel with a smooth finish. It’s perfectly round, with a narrow bezel that leaves as much room as possible for the dial. At 40mm in diameter, it has a medium wrist presence, although the large dial makes it seem bigger than it is. The thickness of 13mm isn’t excessive, and the watch feels slim and lightweight.
The sapphire crystal is scratch-resistant, and is coated with an anti-reflective finish. It won’t catch the sun and create glare, and the flat profile won’t distort your dial. Even when viewed from an extreme angle, you can easily read the time. There’s also a sapphire display back, which shows off the inner workings of the watch.
The case is magnetically shielded, which keeps it from losing accuracy due to magnetic interference. It also sports a knurled screw-down crown at 3 o’clock, which won’t pop out by mistake and expose the case to water. When the crown is down, the watch is water-resistant to a depth of 100 meters. You can shower with it, swim with it, or go snorkeling without causing any damage.
A Beautiful Lunar Dial
There are six different versions of the Ball Engineer II Moon Calendar. I have the green dial here, but it’s also available in white, blue, silver, ice blue, or champagne. All colors have a smooth, even finish with no texture, brushing, or variation. There are also minor differences in the colors of different dial elements in order to ensure high contrast.
Around the outside of the dial is an internal bezel that functions as an outer index. It’s numbered from 1 to 31 in Arabic numerals, which indicate the current date. Inside of this is the primary index. This index has black hashes at the individual minute marks, with miniscule hashes at the 15-second marks. Every five minutes, there’s a large silver applied marker with a lume stripe down the center.
Above the center of the dial is a pair of day and month windows. These windows show the day of the week and the current month in black text, with a clean white background that makes them very easy to read. Below the center of the dial is the element that gives this watch its name. It’s a lunar phase subdial, with a visual representation of the moon passing through the sky. On most versions of the watch, this subdial is the same color as the rest of the dial. The exception is the white dial version, which has a green subdial.
There are four hands on this dial, rather than the traditional three. The hour and minute hand are broad and silver, with pointed ends and lume stripes down the centers for visibility. The hour hand is slightly shorter and fatter, but they have the same general design. The second hand, by contrast, is very slender, and would be all but invisible if not for a square lume-filled block near the end. The fourth hand tracks the outer date index. It’s long and needle-thin, with a crescent moon-shaped tip.
Strap, Movement, and Extras
The Engineer II Moon Calendar secures to your wrist with a stainless steel bracelet. It has a standard three-link design with a folding closure that releases easily when you want to take it off. The outer links are brushed to create a duller finish, while the center links are polished to match the case.
Under the hood, the watch is powered by a Ball RR1807 movement. This is an in-house modification of the ETA 2836-2, one of the most popular movements on the market. It retains the same 38-hour power reserve as well as most of the other movement features. The only real difference is that it’s been adapted to show the moon phase.
For more information you can visit the official Ball Watches website here.