Ball Celebrates 15 Years of the Hydrocarbon Line with a Shock Proof, Tough as Nails Diver

The latest watch in Ball’s Hydrocarbon series has been unveiled, and it’s every bit as overbuilt and tough as the GMT that Ed Jelley recently reviewed right here. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Hydrocarbon line, Ball has created a diver in the brand’s unique style that mixes classic vintage cues with cutting edge technology. It’s an almost steampunk take on the neo-vintage diver genre, and includes some genuinely novel enhancements that fans of the brand (and their use of tritium tubes to illuminate their dials) will surely enjoy. Let’s take a closer look.

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial: Black
  • Dimensions: 40 x 14.5mm
  • Crystal: Sapphire     
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters 
  • Crown: Screw down               
  • Movement: BALL RR1102-CSL
  • Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet
  • Price: $3,199
  • Reference Number: n/a
  • Expected Release: Available now 


The Engineer Hydrocarbon Original looks, at a glance, like it could have been a purpose built dive instrument built in the 60s. The case is conservatively sized at 40mm in diameter the layout is as classic as it gets – there are definite Submariner vibes here, even down to the multiple lines of text near 6:00. The enormous crown protection system is common to all watches in the Hydrocarbon family and reinforces the idea that the Engineer Hydrocarbon Original is truly unshakable. It’s big and bulky, but in a confidence inspiring way. The crown protection valve has become a signature feature in Ball’s watches, and close inspection reveals a very different look than the Panerai crown guard system many will think of when they first lay eyes on a Hydrocarbon. The crown assembly has gentle curves to it, giving it an organic appearance that makes it feel like it was meant to be part of this watch, and not an additional feature added at the last minute. 

Protection against shock is one of the key problems facing watch designers, and Ball has two answers in the form of their Amortiser and SpringLOCK technologies, both implemented here in their most up to date variants. The Amortiser protects the entire movement by shielding it with a metal ring that is designed to absorb impacts, should they arise. To provide even more protection, the Engineer Hydrocarbon Original features the latest iteration of Ball’s SpringLOCK system, which essentially acts as a cage for the balance spring. According to Ball, this system can reduce shock impact on the balance by as much as 66%, protecting the watch from damage and also improving accuracy, as even a small impact can create issues with chronometry. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ball if it wasn’t capable of putting on a light show courtesy of the many small tritium tubes the brand is known to use for dial illumination. Here, tubes have been used in the rotating dive bezel, and have also been placed under the dial for the first time in a Ball watch, creating an always-on lume effect from below, and increased depth and visual interest through a sandwich dial approach. It’s always tough to tell in press photos like those you see here, but we expect this dial won’t look like anything else on the market once it’s dark. 

The Engineer Hydrocarbon Original is available now through Ball’s website. The retail price is $3,199. Ball

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.