Introducing the Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage Limited Edition, Now Available for Pre-Order

Ball was built around early railroad timepieces, yet in the 1960s they produced a professional dive watch dubbed the Skindiver. The Skindiver is back, now in a limited edition 42-millimeter timepiece that boasts some impressive technology, including Ball’s nano-tube lume radiating brightly through the domed timing bezel and the option of a COSC-certified, in-house movement with an 80-hour power reserve.

Until the middle of Janurary, Ball is offering the Skindiver Heritage LE in various colorways and configurations at pre-order prices ranging from $1,199 up to $1,949. There are three tiers to this offer based on the movements: the first tier features Ball’s BR1102 automatic caliber with a day-date complication (built on an ETA 2836-2 base); the middle tier uses the same caliber with COSC-certification; and the top tier gets Ball’s 7309 manufacture with that impressive 80-hour power reserve and drops the day for a date-only complication.

Appropriately, the spec-text on the dial thickens as you go up the tiers, with “Chronometer” spelled out in a yellow script that matches the yellow tip of the seconds hand. That small yellow tie-in might sell the COSC-certification more than the accuracy itself, and the top tier’s text reading “80 HOURS” adds even more oomph.

Within each of the three movement tiers are various color choices ranging from a traditional stainless steel case with black dial to the modern-looking black DLC case with radiant blue dial. You can also chose between a steel bracelet or a thick, contoured black rubber strap. The Ball website does a good job of making all the possible configurations clear.

The 7309 boasts an 80-hour power reserve and beats at a rate of 28,800 bph. Furthermore, it has a date display and BALL’s patented Amortiser anti-shock system.

Nano-tubes glow brightly and consistently, and they never need a charge. On the Skindiver, there are 31 of those tubes: twelve on the dial, three on the hands, and the rest inside the domed timing bezel. Were it the 1960s, that glowing bezel would be a serious offering for SCUBA divers, but, with dive computers having long replaced watches, the Skindiver’s lume is more aesthetic accomplishment—though certainly an ultra-cool one.

Old and new.

The nano-tubes on the Skindiver’s dial act as baton markers. On other models, Ball has spelled out numerals with the straight tubes to form blocky numerals that—while certainly quite bright—lack the elegance of printed numerals. The Skindiver’s dial, however, has a relatively elegant and traditional look.

The rest of the dial is dominated by the various fonts—from the capitalized serifs of Ball’s logo to small caps, italicized sans-serif, the aforementioned yellow script, and the sans-serifs of the spec-text. By using all those fonts Ball has foregone minimalism, though quite successfully. I happened to see a full display of Ball watches in an airport just a few weeks back, and I was really taken with the montage of fonts.

The hands of the Skindiver are large daggers with skeletonized tips that allow the minute hand to reveal the glowing batons. The day-date looks appropriate, while the date-only window on the in-house model is discrete and does not disrupt symmetry.

For those wondering about the fit of the Skindiver, the standard calibers come in at 14.6 millimeters, while the in-house movement bumps that up to 15.2 millimeters. Cross those heights with the 42-millimeter diameter, and we’re talking about a large watch, likely to wear much like a Rolex Sea-Dweller or a modern Omega Seamaster.

Pre-order is currently open for the Skindiver, and the watches are slated to ship later this year. Ball

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At age 7 Allen fell in love with a Timex boy's dive watch his parents gave him, and he's taken comfort in wearing a watch ever since. Allen is especially curious about digital technology having inspired a revival of analog technology, long-lasting handmade goods, and classic fashion. He lives in a one-room schoolhouse in The Hudson Valley with his partner and two orange cats.