Introducing the Ball Roadmaster M Challenger 18, Challenger 18, and Challenger 18 TMT Collections

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This August, 69-year-old speed demon Danny Thompson piloted a dual-engine land rocket across the Bonneville Salt Flats. He reached a peak speed of 448.8 mph, breaking the previous record by more than 40 mph. To celebrate that achievement, Ball’s back with another aggressively-priced pre-order, this time with three models in their Roadmaster range: the Roadmaster M Challenger 18, the Roadmaster Challenger 18, and the Roadmaster Challenger 18 TMT. Each model is offered in numerous configurations (it’s a dizzying number of SKUs, but more on that in a bit).

From left to right: the Roadmaster M Challenger 18, the Roadmaster Challenger 18 TMT, and the Roadmaster Challenger 18.

Late last year, Ball announced their Caliber 7309, which the company calls their first true “in-house” movement fully manufactured by Ball. The 7309 features an 80-hour power reserve and beats at a rate of 28,800 bph. By comparison, some recent offerings from ETA offer a similar power reserve, but sacrifice the higher beat rate, which results in a choppier sweep of the seconds hand. Ball’s new in-house movement is also COSC-certified, has a date display, and features Ball’s patented Amortiser anti-shock system. Altogether, it’s a nice improvement over most ubiquitous ETA movements, and if you’re going to make a new caliber, then you may as well make one that improves on what is already prevalent on the market.

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The Caliber 7309 powers the Roadmaster M Challenger 18, which comes in two sizes (40 and 43 millimeters); several different colorways (black dial with matching bezel, blue dial with matching bezel, black dial with blue bezel, and blue dial with black bezel); and on either a stainless steel bracelet or on a rubber two-piece strap. Overall, the design is clean, sporty, and reminiscent of what the brand produced through their collaboration with BMW. It also has a good bit of the older-gen IWC Aquatimer thrown in for good measure.

Roadmaster M Challenger 18.

Then there’s the Roadmaster Challenger 18, which a follows the formula of the M Challenger so you get multiple case sizes and colorways on either stainless or rubber. The difference here is the movement. The Challenger 18 is powered by a modified, COSC-certified ETA 2836-2, and with that you get a day/date complication on the dial at three.

Roadmaster Challenger 18.

Finally, there’s Roadmaster Challenger 18 TMT, which is perhaps the strangest of the three watches. Your eyes aren’t tricking you. That is indeed a mechanical thermometer at the sub-dial at six. The thermometer is a proprietary module developed by Ball and built into the base movement (a chronometer-certified 2892), and it uses a bimetallic coil to achieve near-exact accuracy. Now, this isn’t really the most useful complication for really just about most people, and I imagine accuracy is questionable when the watch is on the wrist versus when it is off the wrist as Ball recommends taking it off and waiting 10 minutes before taking a reading. Nevertheless, it’s certainly cool looking, even if it’s impractical.

The Roadmaster Challenger 18 TMT.

The Challeneger 18 TMT is once again offered in two cases size (40 and 43 millimeters), the same bezel/dial color combinations, and either on a stainless steel bracelet or on a rubber strap. Additionally, all models are available in either Celsius or Fahrenheit.  Styling is largely the same here, though you’ll notice a wayward date window right next to the one o’clock marker. There’s no two ways about it—that’s a strange spot for a date window, but Ball is kind of infamous for awkward date placement.

You cannot talk about a watch from Ball without a brief discussion of their use of tritium tubes. First, they add some dimensionality to the dial since they sit higher off the surface. Second, and most important, is that they ensure a steady glow under dark conditions. Tritium tubes won’t illuminate the way LumiBrite or Super-LumiNova will after a charge—in fact, tritium never needs to be charged—but they’ll emit a consistent glow throughout the night. The bezel here is lumed.

Each model is limited to 1000 pieces. Pre-order pricing for the three models is as follows: the Roadmaster M Challenger 18 is $1,199 – $1,299; the  Roadmaster Challenger 18 is $999 – $1,089; and the Roadmaster Challenger 18 TMT is $1,699 – $1,799. Ball

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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