Welcome back to TheWatchResource.com, and come along on an exciting journey to learn more about BALL watches. BALL, a brand with a long standing legacy of uncompromising quality, also has one of the most fascinating origin stories. Let’s dive in!
BALL: The Brand
Around 40 miles west of Cleveland, on April 18, 1891, the momentous event known as the Great Kipton Train Wreck unfolded. It involved a fast mail train traveling east and a passenger train heading west, which collided head-on. The cause of the collision was traced back to the conductor of the passenger train, who neglected to halt at the Kipton depot and let the mail train pass. This oversight occurred because his watch had ceased functioning for four minutes before eventually restarting.
The Kipton accident holds a significance far beyond being a mere footnote in American railroad history. It stands as a pivotal moment that ignited revolutionary changes in watchmaking and timekeeping practices. Following the collision, the esteemed jeweler, Webb C. Ball, was appointed as Chief Time Inspector to thoroughly investigate the timekeeping problems surrounding the incident. His diligent efforts resulted in elevated performance and inspection standards for railroad watches, leaving a lasting impact on the industry. In the course of his investigation, Webb C. Ball observed that timekeeping exhibited inconsistencies from city to city, underscoring the imperative need for standardizing railroad time. According to his system, every passenger and freight train was mandated to employ four Ball-certified watches, which were carried by the conductor, engineer, fireman, and rear brakeman.
BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Original: Overview
The Engineer Hydrocarbon collection by BALL is probably the most representative of what the brand stands for: innovation and exceptional quality. The Hydrocarbon Original was launched to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Hydrocarbon collection. It is a robust timepiece, and was visibly built to handle the pressure of the deep sea. While its design is a true representation of its impressive functionality, it is also a very good looking timepiece from an aesthetic point of view. The 43 mm case width and 15.3 mm height are paired with a strapping crown protection system, making this watch a grand statement piece.
The deep green dial creates a very elegant appearance that is paired with simple geometrical forms for the hour indices; no Arabic numerals are displayed. The day and date windows are next to each other at the 3 o’clock position, creating a classic look, pleasing to the eye.
While there are no additional decorative motifs towards the center of the dial, it doesn’t feel empty, as our attention automatically drifts to the design of the hour, minute, and second hands.
The hour and minute hands have a unique obelisque design with a skeleton tip for both. The base of these hands is narrowed, keeping the center of the dial just as light as the outer edges. The very functional and straight-to-the-point design is counterbalanced by the decorative second hand: it is adorned by the “RR” in cursive (stands for Railroad), the symbol that’s part of the BALL Watch logo and brand identity. This is an epic and tasteful nod towards the brand’s origins from 1891.
The sapphire bezel is a classic 120-click count-up unidirectional bezel. It has the same color as the dial, creating a seamless union. The Arabic numerals on the bezel are very tasteful, they do not compete for attention with the dial.
Fun fact (that’s also completely impressive craftsmanship), the BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Original showcases micro tubes of H3 gas within the sapphire bezel. These iconic tubes are not only present on the hands but also concealed under the dial, resulting in unparalleled luminosity in low-light conditions. This innovative approach eliminates the need for an external charging source, as the watch utilizes glass microcapsules filled with gas. Compared to the commonly used Super LumiNova paint in the watchmaking industry, these gas-filled tubes can be up to 100 times brighter, dramatically enhancing the watch’s visibility in the dark.
The BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Original has a case width of 43 mm and a 15.3 mm case thickness, therefore making it a great watch for larger wrists. A smart design choice, the 54 mm lug-to-lug distance makes it a comfortable wear for mid-size wrists as well.
The patented crown protection system is obviously a visual focus point, emphasizing the brand’s dedication to functionality as well as reliability.
The watch is water resistant up to 200 meters, and the already robust timepiece is equipped with patented shock resistance technology, and has anti-magnetic qualities due to the mu-metal shielding.
The BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Original comes with the BALL RR1102-CSL automatic movement, which is based on the ETA 2836-2 caliber. At the 3 o’clock position, day and date windows are present. This 25-jewel caliber provides 38 hours of power reserve.
Strap and Stainless Steel Bracelet
The Engineer Hydrocarbon Original comes with either a black rubber strap, or a stainless steel oyster bracelet. Both of these options perfectly compliment the overall highly masculine look of the watch. If you are into a more sporty appearance, pair it with the rubber strap that is a comfortable wear in hot weather and around salt-water, while the stainless steel bracelet gives a bit more universal and elevated look for everyday wear.
Pros and Cons
Let’s take a look at the summary of pros and cons, in our humble opinion:
- Inspiring and unique brand history and heritage.
- Very tasteful design.
- Excellent materials and technology.
- Given the overall quality and brand prestige, the BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Original is at an excellent price point.
- It’s definitely a sporty look and a statement piece. Due to the crown protection system, it might not be the most appropriate wear for more formal occasions.
- The 43 mm case width and 54 mm lug-to-lug distance might be slightly big for smaller wrist sizes.
Summary: Takeaway and Final Thoughts About BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Original
The Engineer Hydrocarbon Original is a very cool, remarkable quality dive watch. A crown jewel of the brand’s most characteristic collection, in terms of watchmaking technology and unique design features. Hydrocarbon Original is a very robust watch designed to withstand harsh environments, all while incorporating classic and elegant design elements, to create a satisfying balance of functionality and style. We believe this watch is often overlooked when looking for a sturdy dive watch. The BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Original will be your trusted companion, and for generations to come, and at this price point (around $3,000), we can only recommend it!
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