A Blog to Watch's Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight
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Thread: A Blog to Watch's Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

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    A Blog to Watch's Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

    Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight


    Ariel Adams is the founder of aBlogtoWatch and a writes about luxury watches for Forbes. A few weeks ago we had the idea to do a post where we exchange a few emails about a watch we both find interesting. First up is the Engineer II Marvelight.





    Rob: Ariel, I remember seeing the Ball Marvelight watch with you at Baselworld 2014. We were sitting next to each other and you seemed to pick it up before anything else. You said it reminded you of a Rolex Datejust and that it was a sort of good alternative. What did you mean by that? What made you take interest in this particular Ball watch?



    Ariel Adams' wristshot of the silver dial Marvelight, the "T25" model taken at Baselworld 2014

    Ariel: I suppose it was the first new Ball watch I saw and I always seem to be interested in their dressier watches. The Marvelight isn't a dress watch per se, but it's more akin to a Rolex Datejust that works for casual to dressy attire. If you think about it, the Datejust is neither a sport watch or dress watch. Anyhow, I like the idea of a conservative "do anything" watch, and Ball makes a lot of those. I liked the thick flatter tritium gas tubes that I noticed on the dial, and I probably picked up the watch to examine the dial legibility and face better. Lots of brands from Ball to Omega aim for Rolex alternatives that are often less expensive and, in many instances, offer extra functionality. Maybe I am just trying to really define the type of watch a Rolex Datejust is by paying attention to all the watches that are in its space.

    Rob: I like the look and shape of the Marvelight's tubes as well. You may find it interesting that the version that shipped to the U.S. has even bigger tubes than the model you saw at BaselWorld. Here are some pictures of the Marvelight version that shipped to Topper and other U.S. Retailers. Do you feel like the bigger tubes affect the watch's aesthetic? On a related note, are you surprised that more brands haven't followed Ball's lead and switched over from Superluminova to tritium? Do you think it has anything to do with not wanting to have to make different models for different countries and their respective allowable thresholds of tritium?



    The U.S. model of the Marvelight features tubes of similar proportion but are significantly taller.



    A close up of the taller tubes of The U.S. Market version of the Marvelight.

    Ariel: Your question about why more brands don't use tritium gas tubes for illumination is valid. I don't know the answer, but I am glad that Ball has decided that it works for them and their line of higher-end pieces compared to most of the other watches out there with tritium. I think the tubes are very handy but perhaps the Swiss watch industry thinks they are too sporty and it's difficult to design around them. A good example are the hands with tubes in them. I understand the tubes add considerable height and weight to the hands which puts constraints on design. Frankly, I would like for them to go further with tritium hand design as those are never as cool as the hour markers. You also mentioned the legal element which has a lot do with using tritium. In addition to Japan and Canada, I think France has issues with tritium. They might altogether ban it if I am not mistaken. So brands that use it are limiting their sales to a degree. Good thing the US allows the T permit watches with extra gas! The Marvelight is a handsome watch, and certainly more suitable for business attire when compared to a Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon.



    The tritium tubes of the Marvelight require extra clearance. Here you can see the extra space between the second hand, minute hand, and hour hand.

    Rob: You're absolutely right about how tritium tubes affect the height of the watch. If Ball had a thin dress watch that could end up at around 8mm using Superluminova, the switch to small round tritium tubes would add at least a few mm of thickness due to the required extra spacing. If they used some of the taller tubes like the Marvelight hour markers we've been discussing, the spacing would be greater and design altering. Still, you bring up a good point that there hasn't been a lot of innovation for tritium tubes on the hands over the past several years. However, if anyone's going to think of a cool new way to do it, there's a good chance it will be Ball's CTO Philippe Antille. Maybe he will come out with a watch with dauphine hands and a thin tube in a new shape that is suited for that hand style in years to come. Any final thoughts on the Marvelight?

    Ariel: Like the Datejust II, it's a watch that's hard to categorize. You can call it a dressy sport watch, but I'm not sure that really meaningfully defines it for watch consumers. While I find watches like the Marvelight and other "dress" watches with tritium gas tubes to be interesting, I am more interested in sport watches with tritium gas tubes. A Ball Hydrocarbon Engineer with its squared Arabic numerals made from tritium gas tubes for me makes a lot more sense than trying to include the added utility, but also bulk of gas tubes into a "suit watch" which is supposed to be elegant. Frederique Constant has some watches like that, and while I am curious about them, I don't know that I would buy them over something sportier. Then again, I am the type of person who likes the idea of having many watches for various purposes. The Marvelight reaches for more versatility, which as a hybrid between casual and dressy could work well for those with smaller collections.



    The Marvelight (left) features 15 tubes with 12 extremely large, while the Spacemaster X-Lume features 80 smaller tubes. Ariel is more drawn to the Ball watches that feature more intricate lume patterns.


    Rob: I think it would also work well for those who might have large collections, but want to be able to wear the same watch at work that they do for their sport activities. Thanks for the emails Ariel, I hope those who look at the Topper Blog and read Watchuseek find the discussion interesting.
    Last edited by robattopper; July 2nd, 2014 at 03:04.
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    Re: Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

    Thanks Rob for the interesting blog with Ariel.

    For me the clarification around what the actual difference is between the Marvelight "T" and "T25" models was answered. If I understood correctly, they are physically the same, but the "T" version has taller tubes on the hours markers not longer or wider tubes hence the height clearances you referred to. Makes sense, just wanted to have a better idea of the difference.
    As lume is important to me the "T" version it is.

    Best regards
    William

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    Re: Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

    T actually refers to the maximum tritium allowed, T watches will have more tritium than those marked T25. I forget the range for each category. The XLume and Storm Chaser Glow, for example are T watches.

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    Re: Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

    Interesting contribution Rob (and Ariel). I want to like the Marvelight--it certainly has garnered the most attention recently, but I just can't get my head around that giant Cyclops, which really causes me to think, that in this day and age, with technology such as it is (rather advanced), why more companies can't produce a watch that has ALL the numerals, including 3, in the dial, while at the same time also placing a date window in such a way that it doesn't look like it was just tucked in the next (to the 3) easiest place to stick it, such as between 4 and 5--why can't more folks put a date window in a symmetrical position, such as just below the Tritium tube at 12 o'clock, and above the "Ball" logo, which perhaps could be lowered a bit to allow it to fit, or, similarly just above the 6:00 t-tube? The lume shots make this all the more striking--a big gap at 3--no numeral, no tube, just emptiness. Seems like our brightest engineers could actually create the best of both worlds, a completely symmetrical dial, AND a date window to boot. But further, like the Rolex and Omega lines, it would also be nice to see these kinds of watches without the date windows, at least as an option--there are those of us who actually know what the day is, and really don't need a big gaping Cyclops at all, and would rather enjoy a complete, pristine dial.

    Peter
    Last edited by timefleas; July 1st, 2014 at 15:55.
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    Re: Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoo13 View Post
    T actually refers to the maximum tritium allowed, T watches will have more tritium than those marked T25. I forget the range for each category. The XLume and Storm Chaser Glow, for example are T watches.
    Exactly. T is under 100 total millicuries while, t25 is under 25.
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    Re: Ariel Adams & I Discuss the BALL Watch Engineer II Marvelight

    I think one of the better hand designs is the tube in the channel on the DQ. THe issue is it makes for a thicker watch which seems to be the opposite direction Ball is going on the EHC series watches. One common issue that is brought up about tubes in hands is that on some designs there is a marginal difference in length between the hour and minute hand. I'd prefer they possibly be thinner with a proper variance between hour and minute hands. Additionally I've seen this handled a couple of ways with tubes and conventional lume on other brands. On the 800 TI Doxa choose to use two tubes in the minute hand and one in the hour which aligned well with their signature fat minute hand, thin hour hand configuration. Omega uses blue on the hour hand lume and green on the minute hand lume on the PO series Seamaster watches to help determine which hand you are looking at. On tubes this may not be so effective since if they still have the slight variation in length I don't think I would remember at 2am which color is the hour hand and which is the minute hand. To be honest after a half hour in the dark I can't tell the blue from the green on the Omega, but that would not be an issue with GTLS tubes if sized properly. Rolex has the stick and Mercedes hand combo to aid determining which hand your looking at in the dark and there are many others that use this mix style to add in night time readability. I would love to see a dot or hoop tube or something like two tube in line with a space to form two dashes on the hour hand (or minute hand).

    I'm not completely certain what the proper Tube size ratio is, and I think case size, available tube size and marker size are contributing factors that making a standard difficult, but a best guess is 2:3 hour:minute hand would be close.
    Last edited by samanator; July 2nd, 2014 at 01:35.
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