With the new Skindiver Heritage, the latest model in Ball’s Engineer II line, the brand known for their tough railroad inspired tool watches and liberal use of micro gas tubes for a “always on” lumed dials and hands, they’ve done something quite curious by combining the aesthetic of a stealthy blacked out diver with a colorful “rainbow” watch. Ball’s use of gas tubes of course means that their rainbow effect watches are a bit different from brands that use gems or printed dial effects to create a colorful vibe, and we can’t recall seeing this style in a watch with a coating like this in the recent past. The end result is a rainbow watch that’s actually quite under the radar, which would seem to be precisely the opposite impact of every other rainbow watch ever made.
First and foremost, the Skindiver Heritage is a tool watch built in the same vein as others in the Engineer lineup. Engineer watches have a wide range in terms of their overall complexity. For example, Ed reviewed the Engineer Hydrocarbon Aero GMT II some time ago, and with its complex crown guard mechanism front and center and imposing size, it really does resemble a tool in the same a pair of pliers or a wrench might to some folks. The Skindiver is a bit more subdued, and based on 60s era dive watches that were meant to be simple and efficient for recreational diving use, meaning they weren’t quite as overbuilt as a watch made for a professional. They were always thinner, lighter, and more of a mass market product. Ball’s interpretation of the skindiver genre, however, is appropriately aggressive for the brand, and the Engineer line in particular.
The 42mm stainless steel case and matching bracelet have been given a black TiC (titanium carbide) coating all around. The case has an elongated shape with lengthy lugs that are typical of classic skindiver designs. At 14.6mm, we expect this watch to wear every millimeter of its stated size. The dial is a matching black, and the bezel is sapphire with the expected 60 minute dive timer.
In daylight (and press photography) this looks like a fairly typical, blacked out dive watch. Those, of course, are a dime a dozen, and not particularly noteworthy. This key to this watch, as mentioned above, is the way Ball has implemented their gas filled micro tubes throughout. The bezel, hour markers, and hands use a total of 31 of these tubes, which supposedly put on quite a show in a dark environment. A total of 6 different colors are used for the hour markers alone (the coloration is achieved through tinting the glass, not through the gas itself), while the bezel indicators glow a solid, almost toxic green. It’s a genuinely fun rainbow effect, and Ball deserves credit for subverting expectations when it comes to blacked out dive watches.
Powering the Skindiver Heritage is Ball’s RR1102 caliber, a rebadged ETA 2836-2 with a day and date display at 3:00. The watch has a water resistance rating of 200 meters, and Ball also claims shock resistance to 5,000 Gs, and an anti-magnetism rating to 4,800 A/m. The retail price is $1,999 on a rubber strap, or $2,049 on the TiC coated steel bracelet. Ball Watch