The latest dive watch from Ball, the Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU, flies in the face of recent trends in dive watches, and is quite proud to do so. Whereas most of the attention on new divers this year has been on midsize watches with conservative proportions and classic styling, the Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is, well, not conservative in any way. Even before diving into the specs, it’s easy to tell that this watch is overbuilt and targeted at pros, or at least at people who want a pro dive watch experience. The “NEDU” designation here is key to understanding the watch: it’s an acronym for the Navy Experimental Diving Unit, the unit of the Navy that’s responsible for developing rules around diving and decompression, and assessing their own systems and procedures. The work of the NEDU moves diving forward in a real way for the Navy, and has resulted in many new safety protocols and technological advancements through the years. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Ball’s newest high performance diver.
Ball tells us that considerable attention has been paid to the rotating dive bezel of the new Engineer Hydrocarbon. The bezel has deep grooves cut into it, which are meant to make it easier to turn while wearing diving gloves, and I suppose would make it easier to grip with a bare hand as well, if you’re not planning on taking the Ball underwater. Regardless of the functionality of the design, there’s no doubt that the implementation here gives the watch a distinctive, tool-like look, which seems to be aesthetic that Ball is going for with this watch. The bezel insert, as you’d expect in a tech forward watch like this, is ceramic.
The Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is water resistant to 600 meters, which is certainly deep enough for any recreational use, and should please professionals as well. The watch is 42mm in diameter and a gasp inducing 17.3mm thick. This is not, I would suspect, a diver that could easily go from “the beach to the boardroom,” but rather fully embraces the fact that it’s a big, bruising, tool. While that thickness might be unwearable for many, I admire Ball for going all out and seemingly not making any concessions or compromises. The case features a helium escape valve that’s built into the crown itself, which Ball claims maximizes the watch’s water resistant capabilities. You’ll notice that Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is fitted with Ball’s crown protection system, a hallmark for this line of watches.
If this watch has a unique party trick, it’s likely the twin chamfers cut into the case flange. These chamfers act as a drain, allowing water to run out of the small crevices created by the bezel assembly. Assuming it works, this is a worthwhile feature, as anyone who has experienced gunky buildup under a rotating bezel will surely attest.
The Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is powered by the BALL RR1402-C automatic movement, a chronograph caliber that has been COSC certified. As is standard for Ball, the watch is also illuminated by tritium gas tubes, which glow constantly and never need to be charged by an outside light source. The Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is available now on both a rubber strap ($4,399) and stainless steel bracelet ($4,499) in black, blue, and gradient blue dial variants. Ball