Ball Pricing Structure
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  1. #1
    Member jon_huskisson's Avatar
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    Ball Pricing Structure

    I've admire Ball watches from afar for a long time, and finally took the plunge by buying a blue dial Night Breaker on last year's pre-order. It has since become one of my favorite watches, and at the pre-order price (approx $800 on bracelet I think) very good value.

    I am interested in picking up a second Ball, and am drawn to the Trainmaster Legend, in part due to it having a different case to the Night Breaker (I love the Fireman case, but want a varied collection), and in part due to the classy grey dial.

    However, I'm very confused by Ball's pricing. Various Fireman models go for around $1200 to $1400 on the grey market, with a couple closer to $800. The Trainmaster can be found for $800 and less (I resisted what seemed like a crazy good deal for a black dial on bracelet for $516 on eBay yesterday, because I really want the grey dial). Of course, plenty of other models that don't seem especially dissimilar (e.g Fireman Racer Classic) go for $1700+.

    Can anyone provide a newb a cheat sheet to what factors contribute to the price differences, please.

    Is the Trainmaster series seen as lower than/inferior to the Fireman? I get that the number of tubes is one factor, but I'd be surprised if that was the primary differentiator (and wouldn't the exhibition caseback offset that to some degree).

    Are the cheaper ones old models farmed out to the grey market to move them? Does that mean I should grab a Trainmaster Legend soon to avoid missing out?

    Has the (relatively) new pre-order model confused pricing?

    Any insight would be appreciated.



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  2. #2
    Member timefleas's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Trainmasters in general are a higher grade, more formal watch than any in the Fireman series, though there are a few notable exception--the Fireman is fairly basic, and often has been at the lowest rung of their model range (that said, of all their line ups, the Fireman and the Trainmaster are my favorites).

    As for pricing, it has at least a little to do with demand/popularity--generally a large number of folks who buy Ball buy because of the tritium, so those watches with less often don't sell as well. Ball's recent pre-order and NOS clearance auction approach has basically served to devalue their entire line up, so the entire line now sells in the aftermarket more cheaply than ever before--but honestly, this restructured price level is probably more in line with their foothold in the marketplace. Still, if you can get a new Ball for under $800, you're getting a great deal--this applies to almost any model. And, less than $1000--very good, since Ball does have a good bang for the buck posture, in terms of build quality, accuracy, and ruggedness. All that said, there are some very odd things going on with Ball in terms of their approach to the consumer, so it is hard to make too many accurate generalizations that fit across the board.

    I like the Legend, and the very low price, and though tempted, wouldn't buy it for two reasons--one, it plays the roll of an Air King or a Sinn 556 Jubilee--simple, elegant, clean--and like the Air King (and Jubilee), doesn't need the date window, especially not at the 4:30 mark, and two, if I was going to buy a Ball, I would want the tritium at all hours, not just the big four--personally, I would spend a bit more money and get a different Trainmaster, or Fireman.
    Last edited by timefleas; September 15th, 2018 at 18:59.
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  3. #3
    Member jon_huskisson's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by timefleas View Post
    Trainmasters in general are a higher grade, more formal watch than any in the Fireman series, though there are a few notable exception--the Fireman is fairly basic, and often has been at the lowest rung of their model range (that said, of all their line ups, the Fireman and the Trainmaster are my favorites).

    As for pricing, it has at least a little to do with demand/popularity--generally a large number of folks who buy Ball buy because of the tritium, so those watches with less often don't sell as well. Ball's recent pre-order and NOS clearance auction approach has basically served to devalue their entire line up, so the entire line now sells in the aftermarket more cheaply than ever before--but honestly, this restructured price level is probably more in line with their foothold in the marketplace. Still, if you can get a new Ball for under $800, you're getting a great deal--this applies to almost any model. And, less than $1000--very good, since Ball does have a good bang for the buck posture, in terms of build quality, accuracy, and ruggedness. All that said, there are some very odd things going on with Ball in terms of their approach to the consumer, so it is hard to make too many accurate generalizations that fit across the board.

    I like the Legend, and the very low price, and though tempted, wouldn't buy it for two reasons--one, it plays the roll of an Air King or a Sinn 556 Jubilee--simple, elegant, clean--and like the Air King (and Jubilee), doesn't need the date window, especially not at the 4:30 mark, and two, if I was going to buy a Ball, I would want the tritium at all hours, not just the big four--personally, I would spend a bit more money and get a different Trainmaster, or Fireman.
    Thanks for the reply. Good to hear that the Trainmaster is considered to be a higher grade than the Fireman. The low number of tubes doesn't concern me; it's not something that especially attracts me to Ball watches, so if it means it makes some of the models I'm interested in cheaper, then good for me!

    The date window isn't ideal (it seems to be a problem area for Ball between not matching the dial colour, the magnifier, the 4.30 position and the weird split day dates) but I could live with it for that stunning grey sunburst dial.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Same for me, looking for a trainmaster but i really want the numbers and the vintage look.

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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    I got one of the Trainmaster Roman models, a classy looking watch with Roman numerals.


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  7. #6
    Member jon_huskisson's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Just took the plunge on a good deal for the gray Trainmaster. Can't wait for it to arrive!

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  8. #7
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by timefleas View Post
    Ball's recent pre-order and NOS clearance auction approach has basically served to devalue their entire line up, so the entire line now sells in the aftermarket more cheaply than ever before--but honestly, this restructured price level is probably more in line with their foothold in the marketplace.
    If this is a permanent thing, then there's no reason ever to buy a Ball from retail channels again when the grey market is offering 60% off.

  9. #8
    Member timefleas's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Earthjade View Post
    If this is a permanent thing, then there's no reason ever to buy a Ball from retail channels again when the grey market is offering 60% off.
    I am pretty sure two years counts as "permanent" in the market place--but, you're assuming all watches purchased are based on price (lowest cost) alone. It doesn't work that way, as not ALL models are offered cheaply either in the online pre-orders or "my auctions" nor in the grey market--if you aren't choosy, then yes, I am sure you can find a discounted model that might please you. As for myself, I never buy new anyway, from the AD, online or grey market--I'll let someone else take the 50% out the door depreciation, and get the real bargain buying used, where the prices are now better than ever as a result of the devaluation of the Ball--but again, beggars can't be choosers--not all of the Ball line up is available in the aftermarket--at any price.

  10. #9
    Member Earthjade's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    OK, so I'm interested in the Roadmaster Challenger 18 that is available on pre-order at the moment for about $1330 and which Ball says will have an eventual retail price of $1940. So when you look at that, Ball is offering a 32% discount.
    I'm wondering, when the Roadmaster is released retail and it goes to reputable ADs like Gnomon Watches and reputable grey market dealers like Jomashop, what's the selling price actually going to be?
    Obviously used prices are best but I'm not a watch buying nut so I like to be the first owner of a piece. I just don't know if these pre-orders are good value or if the "pre-order" price really means the "real retail" price.

    PS - your city has very strange okonomiyaki.

  11. #10
    Member Triton9's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Pricing Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Earthjade View Post
    OK, so I'm interested in the Roadmaster Challenger 18 that is available on pre-order at the moment for about $1330 and which Ball says will have an eventual retail price of $1940. So when you look at that, Ball is offering a 32% discount.
    I'm wondering, when the Roadmaster is released retail and it goes to reputable ADs like Gnomon Watches and reputable grey market dealers like Jomashop, what's the selling price actually going to be?
    Obviously used prices are best but I'm not a watch buying nut so I like to be the first owner of a piece. I just don't know if these pre-orders are good value or if the "pre-order" price really means the "real retail" price.

    PS - your city has very strange okonomiyaki.
    That is hard to say for the challenger 18 in house movement. Cos the offer price now maybe the bottom line since in house movement cost is much higher than ETA based movement. Or they may never offer in house movement version to grey market. You need to remember, in house movement will be totally different ball game compare to past. It will be hard to predict what direction it's going.
    Last edited by Triton9; October 26th, 2018 at 03:09.
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