Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    Hello all long time listener, first time caller here!

    I am recently engaged to be married and my wonderful girlfriend wants to buy me an engagement watch to counterpoint her engagement ring. I am not a watch collector but love fine mechanical watches and have always wanted one. This watch will hopefully be "the one" as I don't plan to ever own another >$3000 watch (or >$1000 for that matter).

    For a long time I've had my eye on Ball, specifically the Spacemaster X-Lume. However, research has led me to believe that the tritium tubes will lose their luster after about a decade. It's not that I think Tritium is inferior to Superluminova or other forms of lume, rather it's that, what makes the X-Lume special is the tritium and I'm worried that if it fades it will lose what makes it special. Also, that dial/tube replacement will be significantly more expensive on this model than others.

    The design feature I like most from Ball are the Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, 9 and the other models I'm currently considering are the Arabic COSCII, Airborne and Ceramic XV.

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    I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on these four watches as well as other, similar pieces you might recommend to someone in my position (I'm not dedicated to Ball, although I understand this is the Ball forum!)

    I live in the San Francisco area and will likely go to Toppers before making any purchases.

    Thanks for looking!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    F-V, NC

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    Wow! Congrats! Can't go wrong with any of those choices!

    Welcome to the Ball club.

  3. #3
    Member ten13th's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    NorCal, USA

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    Go to Topper and try them out. The one that sings to you is the one your should get, I think that would be the only logical choice for an engagement watch. Have your fiancé go with you to make it a truly memorable experience.
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  5. #4
    Member OSUMBA2003's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Central Ohio

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    Of those, the Arabic is my favorite. You may also want to consider the Engineer II Red Label COSC. It's a littler dressier than the Arabic.

    Two things to consider:

    1. If this is your only watch, it should be versatile. Some of the choices you've laid out are pretty chunky, and probably wouldn't work in many situations.

    2. If this is an engagement gift, you should probably wear it to the wedding.
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  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    Thanks for all the input so far!

    I'll be going to Toppers this weekend to try them all (I called and confirmed they have all but the Arabic currently in-store).

    The Engineer II Red Label is beautiful but the Arabic numerals are what really do it for me on these Ball watches, good suggestion though!

    I find the Arabic and Ceramic XV to be the dressier of the two and am starting to lean away from the X-Lume and towards the XV for this reason. I use a bezel often so the lack of one on the Arabic is the major drawback for me. I'm not a very dressy kind of guy and won't be wearing a tux at the wedding so a bit of bulk and a SS bracelet are plenty dressy for me.

    Would any of you hesitate to buy a tritium watch if they planned to wear it every day for 40+ years? I'm not interested in an Omega Planet Ocean, but as a litmus test, why would I get one of these Ball watches instead of a tried and true classic like the PO? (Forgive my ignorance, not sure if that's a good example of a classic)

    Last edited by justsomedude; September 23rd, 2014 at 23:05.

  7. #6
    Member timefleas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Hiroshima, Japan

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    Of your four watches, three are "divers" (rotating bezels) and one is not--kind of an odd array--as a wedding gift, balancing the exchange of a diamond ring, I would opt for the more formal of your choices (the non-diver), though honestly I would at least consider something from the Trainmaster line for this purpose, myself (or look to find a first generation Fireman--see below).

    As for tritium losing its luster in 10 years--that is incorrect. It supposedly has a HALF life of 12 1/2 years, at which time, for many of the Ball offerings, is still brighter than a similar 12 1/2 year old superluminova-lumed watch. With that said, though, I would of course consider Omega and a few other companies--they make great watches as well.

    For me, I would always want at least one Ball, simply to have the tritium tubes when I need them, and if I were buying only one watch, it would have to be a Ball. My daughter wanted to do something similar for her own wedding, and I was able to find BNIB first generation Fireman (one of my all time favorites in the Ball line up at a price well below your price point, but equal, I think in real value to something much more expensive). If I were to own two watches, one would be a Ball and the other, something else. Good luck!
    Last edited by timefleas; September 24th, 2014 at 02:56.
    OSUMBA2003 and Fatz028 like this.

  8. #7
    Member Fatz028's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Lehigh Valley, PA & Wilemstad, Curaçao

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    First of all welcome go the club. I have to agree with Timefleas on this. I would look at the Trainmaster series. The watch I would say would be the Cannonball. It's sporty yet classy all in one. I own it in white and the enamel dial is beautiful. Good luck and happy hunting.

  9. #8
    Member Voodoo13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Do NOT let the tritium life sway your decision! ALL of you pics are fine Ball watches. I own, and wear everyday, the XLume. It is awesome. It's not blingly, it's night time viewing is incredible. To the point where when it dies I will buy another offering from Ball. It scratches all of my watch itches. Ball has spoiled me on other more expensive watches from other makers. The fit and finish is better than the price point may indicate. But, do try on first, some wrists don't get along well with the curved lugs, mine loves them however. Not to mention if it lost 75% of it's Lume, it will still be better than 90 % of all normal watches out there.
    Last edited by Voodoo13; September 24th, 2014 at 03:30.

  10. #9
    Member kirbystrunk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Portsmouth, VA

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    I have owned the Ceramic and loved it, only sold it because I found a great deal on a NEDU and decided I didn't need both. The best advice on which watch, is to try them on. You will know then which one you want. The only other thing to worry about would be that if you plan on keeping and wearing a watch that long that it is a timeless design. You don't want the watch to look old in a few years. I don't think you have much to worry about with the watches you have listed, but if something else catches your eye...

    As others have said, don't worry about the tritium life. No watch made today will have great lume 25 years from now without a dial change or some kind of service. The pleasure you will get from the lume over the years will far outweigh the cost of the tritium replacement in the future.

  11. #10
    XiL is offline
    Member XiL's Avatar
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    Aug 2014

    Re: Which Ball for first and only high-end watch?

    I would go with the Engineer II, it's dressy enough to work with a suit while at the same time should be rough enough to tackle anything else. The others, I can't see substituting for a dress watch. As far as toughness, I've had mine on constantly for almost 2 months, including a lot of hiking, rock scrambling, working out, biking, and jogging. There are scratches everywhere on the bracelet but the sapphire crystal is still as new and the timing doesn't seem to have been affected. I don't baby anything I have and the Marvelight seems to be standing up to it nicely.

    Now.. given the choice between a Planet Ocean (which is ~2-3x the cost), I would go with the PO. It's one hell of a watch, plus it has a display back, which I wish my Engineer II had.

    The pluses for the Ball vs. Omega would be price and maintenance, almost anyone can maintain the ETA movement and replacement/repair costs are much lower.

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