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Vanquish The Seven Seas with Ball Engineer Master II Diver
Ball has revealed the newest addition to the Engineer line to please all you jet-setting divers out there: the Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime, limited to 1,000 parts. Ball is no stranger to making these combinations of complexities and style, guided by adventure, and they have tried to establish a real world-time feature inside a dive watch body for this venture.
Ball Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime Black - Ltd Ed 1000pcs Ref. DG2232A-SC-BK
What I love about the Ball watch is that they love to revisit their popular models and keep adapting them from time to time. This gives a very iterative feel to the Ball product, which means that new models tend to be improvements over existing models. Exactly what happened to the Swiss watchmaker's Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime watch. Today, I reviewed the DG2232A-SC-BK Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime reference (limited edition 1000 watches), and in 2016 I reviewed the watch of the same name in the DG2022A-S3AJ-BK reference. Let's examine how Ball has tweaked and updated this particular family of models, and once you're done, be sure to read our report on what the brand has been up to over the last few years.
The ball has a number of dive watches and a number of worldtime watches. This happens to be one of the few models that seems to combine these two functions. Traditionally, you didn't need a world time function in a diver's watch (if you're diving), but the reality today is that diver-style watches are so popular that more than enough of them find a home on the wrist of the ordinary traveler. The resulting blend of style and functionality offers a durable 300m waterproof package with an elegant world time function that immediately lets the wearer know the time in one of the 24 major time zones.
While the movements inside the watch operate the same as in the 2016 model, almost everything else about the watch has been changed. Despite the fact that both watches are given the same name and are in the same Engineer Master II family. Let's start by talking about the 42mm wide steel case (which is lower than the 45mm width of the previous model). While the proportions are similar, the case now has one knob instead of two, is smaller, and now has a rotating bezel. Previous models had two crowns, with the second being used to operate the internal rotating bezel. Ball has now developed a bezel that can be turned by hand, but can still move the inner ring while maintaining water resistance.
This inner ring is used for two functions, but cannot be used simultaneously. One of those functions is your standard 60 minute diver style timer. The tritium gas canister ignites it in the dark, and I like the slightly curved look under the sapphire crystal. This watch has a much more elegant dial depth feel compared to previous models (although both have deeper dials). Returning to the bezel, it has notched edges that are polished for better grip, and generally looks better than the asymmetrical two-crown setup of the previous Diver Worldtime Engineer Master II watches.
The 42mm wide steel case is also 15mm thick and has a lug-to-lug distance of approximately 49mm. It is now also equipped with an attractive rear case display that offers a view of the decorated BALL RR1501-C caliber. This movement is based on the Swiss Made ETA 2836, but has been modified to feature a world timer ring. This movement has also been awarded the COSC Chronometer certification. The world's time ring moves as you adjust time in one direction, but not the other - that's how you initially set it. You then rotate the bezel so that the reference name of your local timezone city is at the 12 o'clock position. From there, you can view the current time in one of the 24 main time zones. The dial also includes a date and day of the week window, separated by one at 3 o'clock, and the other at 6 o'clock (Ball's style does quite well).
With orange versus red accents, the dial of the DG2232A-SC-BK watch is smoother than the previous Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime in visual aesthetics and legibility. Some unnecessary dial textures are removed, and the visual separation between the inner dial for the time and the outer dial for the rotating bezel is more prominent. In a sense, the newer watches have a slightly more vintage dial vibe but in a good way that celebrates the analog dial legibility rules, which have been mastered for a long time, and in many ways forgotten recently. This is because most modern watches are designed in CAD, and brands don't do enough physical clock prototyping to get things like dial color, texture, and finish right. In the past, this was not possible, so by relying solely on physical prototypes to design watches, designers in the past have never been misled by the difference between how an object looks on a computer screen versus real life.
As usual, Ball made use of the self-igniting tritium gas cylinder as well as for the hour hand. In the dark, Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime is a sight to behold. Given the nature of how the world's watches have an outer ring and an inner dial, the time reading face on the watch feels rather small when compared to the overall size of the case. It's no big deal, but it can take some getting used to if you have something that feels like a larger watch on your wrist, with a relatively small dial for reading the time. Above the dial is a slightly domed AR-coated sapphire crystal.
Attached to the case is a more traditional three-link steel metal bracelet compared to the Engineer Master II-style band on earlier watches. The band has a brushed outer link and a polished center link, which was made popular largely by watches such as the GMT-Master II. In this respect, the DG2232A-SC-BK feels a little more "generic" than the previous generation Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime, but it looks trendy and in my opinion fits perfectly with the overall theme of the watch.
The 20mm wide band has a well-made fold-over clasp that has lots of customization options given the presence of half the chain, as well as the smaller hole in the device itself. This is the last generation technology, but it still works quite well. The stamped metal diver extension clasp feels as sturdy as other watches. I don't really feel this is a concern (especially since maybe one or two owners of this watch will actually use it), but at this price level, I don't think there should be any metal parts clearly stamped on the case or bracelet.
It can be confusing to sort through the many timepieces that Ball watches produce. Even finding the DG2232A-SC-BK model on its website can be a challenge if you don't know what to look for. The storytelling from Ball is also thin, meaning that unless you know what you see on the website and on the product page, it can be difficult to know why the brand made this product or how it differs from the previous one. Those who do their homework will appreciate (like me) that Ball has made many impressive strides to make the Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime a better, more comfortable and easier to read watch. This shows that Ball not only listens to consumer feedback, but is also dedicated to an iterative design approach that works really well in the watch industry (Casio is also a company known for their iterative approach to product design and refinement.)
One more thing, the reference Ball Engineer DG2232A-SC-BK Master II Diver Worldtime is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. The cost for the product rose slightly from 2016, but the watch is a better product overall. The price is $ 2,500 USD.
Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II Ref. DM3108A-SCJ-BK
I may never be able to fully explain my love for lumes and diving watches, but with the Ball Skindiver II, I can at least frantically set a shining example. Announced at Basel world in 2015, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is an update to the 2012 vintage-inspired Skindiver. This second generation of divers is a little bigger and slightly more mature, while still maintaining Ball's blend of classic diving watch styles with considerable innovation. for the modern wrist.
While the OG Skindiver from 2012 is 40.5 mm wide, the new Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is 43 mm wide and 14 mm thick with a steel casing, sapphire crystal and luminous ceramic bezel scale. Based on the Ball Skindiver model from 1962, the original model stems from the growing popularity of skin diving (aka free diving). Those of you who have been concerned about freediving know that Ball is quite active and has been a longtime supporter of Guillaume Nery, the world champion in freediving and a pioneer in the sport.
With the larger case size, there is increased water resistance, now 500m compared to 300m resistance from the previous model. The Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II also features an automatic helium outlet valve which, although functionally useless for 99% of the market, has been a distinctive feature of "hardcore" dive watches over the past decade.
Like all Ball models, lume is essential, and the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II has the same bright and legible setup as the previous model, with 15 double-sized micro gas cylinders that form the markers and luminous elements of the handset. These micro gas cylinders glow without the need for external light to charge, are bright and very legible in low light situations. The luminous ceramic bezel has been carried over from previous models and offers excellent readability, complete minute scale, and precise scratch resistance.
In addition to the additional 2.5mm casing width, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II can be recognized for its updated and somewhat cleaned dial design. This new dial is textured and forgets the clearer minute markers of its big brother. Also cut from the new design is the eccentric cut-off day and date display, with the Skindiver Part Deux opting for a simple 4:30 am date display, where it won't interfere with that glowing tube. Finally, there is an orange second hand in the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II, a slight but visible improvement from the red second hand of the Skindiver.
In the larger case, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II uses the RR1103-C Ball, which is ETA 2824 treated with COSC certification. When tapping into the mid-to-high price range where we usually see the 2824, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is still the perfect place for such a move. Balls haven't (yet) taken the path of creating and implementing their own moves and the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II sits at a price point well below new in-house competitions like the Tudor Pelagos ($ 4125).
The Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II retails for $ 2,190 USD, including a multi-link steel band and a comfortable, sport-ready rubber strap as seen in the photo above. While the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is one step away from the vintage aesthetic of previous models, it is a sure step towards the diving watch that Ball needs. With its competitive price, simplified design and equipment purpose, it's hard not to dig into the new Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II. After all, it is a diver and has a respectful light - what's not to like?