this could be a world class brand! No disrespect intended to the history of the Ball brand or the group.
I am a THRILLED new Engineer Hydrocarbon Classic II owner black dial.
I have a pretty extensive watch collection, mostly Rolex, Omega, 1 IWC, 1 Breitling this from about 15 years of collecting...
I have hit a grail watch w/ the black dial engineer hydrocarbon classic II in SS!
I'm fortunate enough to live in the Tampa Bay area so it was easy enough to stop by Jeff Hess's joint in St. Pete on Sat. I originally had the diver 2 in mind but there was a deal breaker when I found I could not adjust the timer underwater, in the pool etc, because adjusting the inner rotating bezel crown would compromise the water resistance. Although most of my watches are dive watches, I have never owned a watch w/ an inner rotating bezel.
Obviously a traditional outer rotating bezel does not present any such problem - I pulled the trigger on the black dial w/ the BIG tritium gas vials. The EXTRA glow was a must for me. I am completely impressed w/ the quality of this watch.
I own a couple of tritium vial watches, (luminox, marathon, and a howard marx m-16). This watch holds its own even w/o the tritium features!
I will work up a review soon, (after the honeymoon phase), but initially it's obvious this watch offers the quality, fit, and finish of watches at 3x the price, certainly 100% comparable to my rolex subs, IWC AT, Breitling SO, or Omega SMP.
I've been around, I'm a 'watch guy' this is a brand that seemingly has unreal potential. If this watch is in the jewelers case next to the competition, it can potentially BLOW them away! The 1/3 the price is gravy...
The Dial is immaculate, nice texture, rich black color (ala rolex), not too much writing, because the date tucks underneath the 4 marker the dial markers are perfectly symmetrical very important to me (YES!) Would prefer reverse colored date wheel.
The Hands are sharp and beautiful, skeleton style (ala Omega bond SMP) but the benefit of the tubes for increased visibility. The second hand sweeps smoothly, the Ball logo (ala B'ling chronographs) is a classy and nice touch.
The Case nice, solid, brushed, nicely curved and shaped, no sharp edges.
The Crown this was my concern from only seeing this watch on the net. turns out the crown protecter clasp is quite nice, it doesn't 'stick out' the way I thought it might. Although I would be fine if the crown were traditionally set between protectors. I will say the crown is a little more wobbly than many of my watches when pulled out for adjustment.
The Crystal OMG 4 mm anti reflective wow
The Bezel turns nicely, grips nicely, not sharp, no annoying inserts to fall out, 4 raised areas (what do you call those things?) protect the crystal and serve to help grip the bezel, the numbers are luminova which is fine for me, the 'zero dot' is a bit too small
The Bracelet brushed, on par w/ the IWC AT in quality (among (perhaps) the best I own), the SEL are literally screwed into the case. I LOVE this (I'm a belt and suspenders kinda guy) My Ebel discovery does this and I've always wondered why more watches don't do this as springs are always a potential weak spot in my book. Offers 2 half links and 3 micro adjustments for that oh so perfect fit. Oh and a safety clasp w/ a divers extention.
Overall the steel is brushed and a bit dark almost appearing as titanium.
Movement I am not a watchmaker, but I know ETA based movements to be reliable and robust, my watch is about -5 sec. a day right now.
On top of that the kid at Northeast could not have been nicer, Ball USA is located there so they have everything in stock, even Mrs. Hess spent some time letting me handle some of their other brands, a SAR next on my list...
BTW I was wearing a rolex sub anniv 16610LV when I bought the Ball - the Ball has not left my wrist.