The Ball Hydrocarbon Hunley
2013 brought us three new models of the Engineer Hydrocarbon series with advanced shock resistance systems; Black, Airborne, and the Orbital II. The first two featured SpringLOCK; a cage that protects a watch movement's hairspring and ensures accuracy against the strain of mild repetitive shock. The Orbital II featured an Amortizer. When toggled to the "on" position, the Amortizer locks the rotor in place. Rather than merely protecting the accuracy of the timepiece during mild repetitive shock, it inhibits the rotor from damaging the watch during a moment of anticipated extreme shock.
This year, the new shock-resistant Hydrocarbon Ball watch is the Hunley Limited Edition. The Hunley combines the Amortizer of the Orbital II with a series-first power reserve complication in a case that is similar to the Spacemaster models.
The dimensions of the Hunley are 42mm by 17.3mm. This makes the watch considerably thicker than other Engineer Hydrocarbon models such as the Black, Ceramic XV, and Airborne which all have thicknesses around 14mm. The main reason it is thicker and similar to the Spacemaster models (16.9mm) is the Amortizer. The toggle switch on the Amortizer is themed like the wheel of the namesake CSS H.L. Hunley, the first combat submarine to sink a warship. This is the second Civil War era Ball watch named after a submarine. The first was named after the U.S.S. Alligator and came out in the mid 2000's.
Amortizer toggle switch on the case back of the Hunley.
From a design standpoint, the Hunley combines elements found in other recent Ball watches. The surface of the dial center is similar to the outside dial portion of the new Engineer II Pilot GMT. It's a matted surface that makes for an easy contrast to pick up the hands. Another similarity with the Pilot GMT is the tritium tubes are mounted on reflective steel indices. These indices are more pronounced than on the Pilot GMT because the tubes are shorter and the dial is not recessed. The outer portion has a similar "track style" guilloche pattern to the Ceramic XV. The Hunley's ceramic bezel also seems identical to the Ceramic XV.
Top dial portion of the Hunley.
The most novel feature of the watch is the power reserve indicator. It makes sense they chose to pair this feature with a watch with an Amortizer. Power reserve indicators are most useful on manual wind watches where wrist action does not produce power. When the Amortizer is in the "on" position the watch is essentially a manual wind watch, so it's nice be able to see how charged up it is.
The Hunley is available as shown below with a black ceramic bezel, and also with a blue ceramic bezel. The watch is limited to 500 pieces and retails (U.S.) for $3,899.
Power Reserve complication of the Hunley.
Date indicator of the Hunley.
Right dial side of the Hunley.
Ball's patented crown protection system common to all Engineer Hydrocarbon models.
The micro-gas tubes on the dial and luminescent paint on the ceramic bezel make for great low-light readability.