A brand with a long history and a big range of different models available...
When we think of watch brands with a rich and important history we normally think of Switzerland. However, when talking about Ball Watch Company and their history we have to travel across the pond to America (Ohio to be exact) to really get the full picture on how this watch brand truly changed the landscape of horology forever…
The history of Ball Watch CompanyAs the date featured on the dial of their watches suggests, Ball was created in 1891, when the founder (Webb C. Ball) had a reputation for using standard time in his pocket watch creations. However, it was only after a railway crash involving two trains between Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway did Webb C. Ball and Ball Watch Company really start to put their name on the map. Trains opened up a whole new world for people who up until now had no reliable and affordable way of reaching other parts of states and the country. Before this date, there was no real need for a standardised time as people very much stayed in the vicinity of their homes. The railway crash (caused by one of the train driver’s watches being off by 4 minutes) symbolised a point of change.
Ball was tasked with becoming the Chief Time Inspector for the railways which essentially meant they were responsible for ensuring universal timekeeping was applied for trains crossing the country to avoid such accidents again. This emphasis on accurate timekeeping is something that has transcended the decades with the RR standard (certain accuracy criteria had to be met before a timepiece could be regarded as RR standard) still gracing the dials of each Ball watch created today.
Modern-day Ball Watch Company
Fortunately, the historical importance hasn’t remained in the past as Ball today still creates watches that call back and respect the long history the brand has to it’s name. But they also create extremely modern-looking pieces as well, allowing the historical aspect of the brand to exist through the use of different complications, executions of features and sizes.
Ball Engineer III Endurance 1917 Chronometer
First up we have a fascinating model in the shape of the Engineer III Endurance 1917 Chronometer. On the surface this is quite a conventional-looking watch, however, there is a little more going on here than first meets the eye. To start with the date window is at the 1 o'clock position. Next we see a lovely grey dial with lime green pops of colour found on the end of the second's hand, on the second's track and in the subdial. And finally, speaking of the subdial this is actually a mechanical thermometer capable of displaying temperatures between -40 and 50 degrees celsius.
Sure it might not be the most useful complication for everyday wear, but it’s pretty cool right?
Movement: ETA 2892, Chronometer certified COSC, Movement oil to endure -40°C / -40°F
Function: hour, minutes, seconds, date mechanical thermometer
Availability: Limited edition of 1,000 pieces
Price: RRP £2,860
Ball Trainmaster Endeavour Chronometer Captain Cook
As the name clearly suggests this watch honours Captain Cook's famous voyages 250 years ago. This model has a lot of traditional Ball DNA packed into its 40mm case width. First we get a watch with classic elegant styling throughout. Roman numerals, fine typography and a railroad seconds track (it just had to be) all feature on this limited edition piece. We see gas tubes filled with lume on each hour marker rising out of the dial adding some interesting depth. We also see a chronometer certified movement again effectively honouring this brand's past.
Ball nowadays are known for making larger watches with strong personalities to match, so it’s nice to see this model brings some of their heritage through effectively.
Case width: 40mm
Movement: Automatic calibre BALL RR1101-C, chronometer-certified COSC
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Water resistance: 50m
Price: £1,940 – £2,030
Availability: Limited edition to 250 pieces
Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT IIFinally, we have a large GMT option with distinctive design choice and executions. The first noticeable feature on this AeroGMT is the interesting crown lock. The patented crown protection system is a push and swing style lock safe which ensures the crown has as much protection as possible. Ball is well known for its approaches to lume, and this AeroGMT is the perfect example of this.
The aviator-inspired dial has hour indexes and main hands carrying yellow H3 gas tubes, with the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock markings receiving double gas tubes, with a pair of ultra-distinctive orange gas tubes holding court at the 12 o’clock index. The second time-zone GMT hand tops this all off with green gas tubes, in tribute to Ball’s corporate colours.
Case width: 42mm
Movement: Automatic calibre BALL RR1201-C
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, second-time zone and date
Water resistance: 100m
Final thoughtsBall is one of those watch brands that consistently perform extremely well. Whether it be for timing railways back in the 1890s or in for coping with the daily wear of 2020. They respect the past through their use of different complications and styles to appeal to a discerning collector looking for a watch that will perform day in, day out.
We'd like to thank Ball for sending these watches over to the Online Magazine. To find out more about Ball Watch Company, click here.