Sometimes there is no other way …

When we have very precise requirements as to what attributes the watch has to have, it sometimes turns out that there is no such watch, or that there is only one model on the market that meets all the main requirements …
That was in my case.
One autumn evening a couple of months ago on a walk with my wife and child, having a Phoibos diver on wrist, I wanted to check the time, I tilted the jacket sleeve and … I had a problem to read the time.
After returning from work, I change the watch from the suit one to something more loose and sporty depending on what I want on a given day, usually it’s something on nato strap, because it’s the most confortable. Watches lie in a in the closet, so in autumn and winter, when I come back home practically after dark, they don’t have when to light up with sunlight. In addition, the exposed luma maintains a strong level of light for only a short time and then the brightness decreases and although it glows for a few hours and theoretically it is possible to read the time on the watch when it is not total darkness with barely visible lume light you have to look at the watch close to your eyes.
It was then that I decided to buy a watch that would be readable all the time regardless of whether it was light / dark and whether it was exposed.
For some time I was also eager to buy a pilot watch. I got bored with divers and wanted something that is simple, readable and black and white. My main criterion when choosing the pilot watch was its size and, above all, the thickness of the case, I wanted it to be maximally thin.
I decided to raise the bar very high and find a pilot with indices made of tritium tubes. It soon turned out that there is only one watch on the market that meets these requirements and at the same time I like it visually – Ball Bronze.
I bought a new watch in Polish distribution. Its cost is about PLN 10,000 – it’s my first purchase of a new watch from a Polish store for a long time 😊

Ball – real Swiss watches with unique design

Ball is a brand with history, I will not mention it here, you can read it on their website. I will only mention that its origins date back to the nineteenth century and that this brand is inseparably connected with the American railway, it’s the functions of individual railway employees and locomotive names that this company takes models names  from. The design of their watches is very characteristic … three-dimensional indices made from tritium tubes, multi-level dials, second hand with the company logo on the counterweight, deeply drawn case backs and massive looking cases are the features that Ball watches can not be mistaken for with anything else. This is what Ball doesn’t  have any cheaper replacements on the market … if you like Rolex / Omega / Tag Heuer / Breitling then for a few hundred zlotys you can buy Parnisa / Tisella / Pagani Design etc … which will be of lower quality but visually similar. If you like Ball, you have no choice, you have to buy Ball watch because watches with such design simply can not be done “after cheapness” …


Box

A set of green boxes consists of an outer package and an inner box from which a sort of drawer slides out, in which there is a watch. Another interesting variation on what you can pack your watch. The boxes are logged, nicely made and look very professional. There is nothing to cheat, no one expects that the watch at this price will be packed in a cardboard box from which Ball surely realizes and expectations as to the packaging meets 100%, if it would be a gift it is not ashamed.

 

Case

The case is made of bronze. It was not my requirement and if there was a possibility I would choose an case made of steel, but this model is available only in bronze … it’s nothing, bronze fits weel this watch. By the way, every bronze watch confirms my belief that brown bronzes are not equal … so far, every bronze I dealt with had a different shade than the previous ones. Bronze in the Ball is more yellow / gold, it is especially visible when it gets more light and it gets gold 😊 The width of the case is 43mm and its height is 13.45mm, if the case width seemed perfect to me, I was worried about the height of the watch, because I mentioned earlier that I wanted the thinnest watch (read. I expected values ​​closer to 10mm). However, thanks to the shape of the case, you can not see its thickness and it seems a minimeter lower than it is on paper. Thec ase is nowhere near straight, the main body when you look at it flat from the ear side is slightly doomed, while the bezel narrows towards the top and thanks to these two treatments the watch looks thinner than it really is. The edges are great – very fine brushing on the entire case. The distance of lug to lug in the watch is equal to 50mm and thanks to the ears bent down it fits very well on the wrist.

I really like the crown, it has a nice shape (fortunately, there is no onion shape like in a thousand other pilots), the right size, it is signed with the Ball logo and after unscrewing it is far from the case thanks to which work is pure pleasure.
The crown is screw down because the watch has a wr level of 100m. – this is a nice addition because despite the fact that it’s a pilot type watch, it doesn’t have to be afraid of water and you can even swim with it.
I am curious how the case will look when it starts to catch a patina, I feel that the effect will be nice 😊

Movement

The heart of the watch is the automatic movement  caliber BALL RR1102-SL so modified by Ball ETA 2824 to which the Spring Lock anti-shock system has been added. It’s worth mentioning here that Ball has many interesting modifications of the mechanism and patents aimed at increasing the resistance of the movement to shocks, temperature or magnetic field – I will not be boring, you can find out everything on the Polish manufacturer’s website 😊. Spring Lock which is located in this mechanism is a special frame that protects the spring against damage during vibrations and shocks.
The movement works with a frequency of 28.800 oscillations per hour and has a 38-hour power reserve. My copy is doing arround +5 seconds a day.

Dial

It is black as a pit, it has no light effect – it’s just pure black which absorbs almost all the light that reaches it. Is beautiful in its simplicity, at the top of the index at 12 o’clock there is a Ball logo which is quite bulky, while the bottom is only information about the automatic movement of the watch … it is good, not too many of these subtitles and not too little. Next to the 3rd hour index there is a double day / date stamp here is the first minus – it would look better if they were white letters / numbers on a black background … it’s not bad because the hands are also white and it works with the whole but with a black date it would still be better.

As we are already on the hands, they are definitely the strong point of this watch – they have a nice shape and up to 1/3 of the distance are black (second to 2/3 of the distance), black as a whole dial. This black paint gives the impression of being powdery, it really looks great. The remaining part of the hands is white, minute and hourly have tritium tubes on them, while the second one has a luma in a small rectangle. The hands are set very high, not only in relation to the dial but also to each other, it is probably due to the fact of having tritium tubes which further thicken hands – they must be set higher so that they don’t hook  these tubes.
Second hand, unlike the other Ball models, has no counterweight with the company logo – and very well, it would spoil all the severity and simplicity of the watch. In short – the hands are perfect 😊

The biggest attraction of this watch, however, are indices made of tritium tubes. There are exactly 48 on the dial – I deliberately chose the model with indices in the form of whole Arabic numerals because I knew that it would guarantee the highest readability that can be achieved with an analog watch … and the first evening when it was dark I found out that it was a shot in 10! Readability of this watch day and night literally crushes every other analog watch …
The indices may not shine like the freshly exposed luma, but they shine all the time invariably and completely enough to read the hour in less than a second after looking at the watch. When it gets completely dark, light from tritium can be seen very clearly even from a distance.
I don’t know if after this I will be able to enjoy the luma in any watch …

The very way in which these tritium tubes were placed on the target also deserves a separate paragraph 😊
Incredible accuracy, everything perfectly folded, but I will not write more … see for yourself.
How many watches subjected to such close-ups will have nothing to be ashamed of?

On the external side of the hourly indices there is a minute scale, on this scale the markings of full hours are painted with green luminescent mass.
Personally, I would prefer the tritium to shine white (yes, Ball as the only one has watches with tritium shining on white) – and that indexes from the luma on the minute scale were white, but this is just a stylistic note and someone else can watch more please like it is.
The whole watch covers a slightly doomed sapphire glass with an internal anti-reflective – here I am pleasantly surprised, because I was convinced that the watch has a flat glass … such a light bulge in my opinion definitely improves the visual qualities of this watch and what we see on the target at an acute angle 😊

Case back

The case back has a beautifully embossed image of the plane, but not the very stamping made the biggest impression on me, but the metal from which the case back is made – it is a dark steel perfectly matted and brushed. The cap-shaped rim has engraved standard information on watertightness, model number, etc.
People who have already read my previous reviews will probably know that I pay much attention to watch case backs… this case back completely satisfies my needs 😊

Strap

This is probably the weakest point in the whole set … the leather strap smells good but it is quite stiff and short (okay for me, but for someone with a slightly larger wrist it would be too short) except that the buckle instead of bronze is made of stainless steel. The buckle itself is great, made as carefully as the watch itself.
Immediately as I came, I thought about replacing the strap, but the watch has between the lugs 21mm, so the choice is limited. Generally, there is no problem inserting a 22 mm strap in the ears of 21mm but always the leather will be slightly compressed and this may slightly spoil the aesthetics of the watch.
Until then I wear it as it is, maybe later I will compose a strap of Pattini for him because they just have those sizes.
I’d like to put him on some NATO military strap, but I don’t want to add another millimeter of thickness to him.

Summary

If someone like me is looking for a mega-readable pilot watch type, then this model is very good, if not the best choice. Indices from tritium tubes in the form of whole Arabic letters make an amazing impression (especially after dark) and bronze gives this watch a more harsh, vintage atmosphere. The watch thanks to its colors is very versatile – like most white and black watches. It will accompany me in these winter, dark days when the reading of another watch could have been a problem.
Due to the fact that I chose such a minimalist watch, I feel a small deficiency … after what I saw in the case of the Bronze model I would like to see how in the long run a model in steel, bezel and bracelet – eg some diver 😉 Part of the Ball watches also has a bezel illuminated with tritium! It will be hard for me to resist buying something like this when I have the right budget …

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