BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU

Angus Davies provides an in-depth hands-on review of the BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU.

This detailed review of the BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU includes live images, specification details and price.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Recently, I was strolling by the sea in northern England and noticed the homes adjacent the beach. The painted fascia boards and window frames were badly flaking and they had clearly suffered the harsh rigours of the British winter. While a view of the sea sounds idyllic, the abrasive cocktail of rain, seawater, salty air and sand evidently takes its toll on everything in its path.

Adjacent the sea, a huge concrete sea-defence wall sits in readiness, waiting to mitigate the risk of high tides flooding roads and nearby properties. This huge structure stands as a permanent reminder of the pervasive nature of the sea and the colossal forces it can exert on everything in its path.

The producers of divers’ watches are only too familiar with the challenges of making timepieces capable of withstanding the permeating action of the sea and the huge forces at play, deep beneath the waves.

Ball Watch Company has earned a reputation for producing hard-wearing divers’ watches able to cope with the clawing tentacles of an angry ocean. The Swiss brand offers an array of suitably equipped timepieces intended for wear during subaquatic adventure. Moreover, the watch company is known for offering remarkable value for money.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

A recent encounter with the BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU has made me reflect on the appeal of this genre of watch.

Why do I like divers’ watches?

In common with many potential wearers of diver’s watches, I am unlikely to explore the colossal capabilities of its deep water talents.

I would liken this scenario to the time I once owned a sports utility vehicle (SUV), even though I lived in an urban location. There are many benefits provided by an SUV which prove highly useful. Indeed, the Audi Q7 I once owned carried seven passengers, accommodated a colossal volume of luggage and provided a commanding view of the road. None of these attributes were conferred solely off-road, they were available all of the time.

A diver’s watch generally delivers an array of features which prove highly useful on terra firma. The case construction and sapphire crystal are often robust, shrugging off minor impacts. The impressive water resistance proves useful if you fail to remove the watch prior to taking a dip in a swimming pool. An accomplished diver’s watch should also provide excellent legibility, both in bright daylight and restricted light.

Indeed, irrespective of whether you will ever use a diver’s watch in anger and explore the limits of its specification, the functionality it offers proves remarkably useful most of the time.

The dial

The BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is available with a choice of blue or black dial. The model I wore was equipped with the latter option.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

This diver’s watch includes a chronograph and employs a tri-compax layout. A 12-hour chronograph counter is positioned at 6 o’clock, a small seconds display is located at 9 o’clock and a 30 minute chronograph counter resides below noon. Each subdial is snailed and shares identical proportions. The chronograph registers feature red hands, while the small seconds display includes a white hand.

Adjacent 3 o’clock are day and date displays, presented via two apertures.

The hour and minute hands are faceted and sport open-worked tips, partially revealing the dial detail beneath.

Framing the dial is a chronograph seconds track pairing grey and red strokes. A facsimile of the minute track also sits atop of the flange. A dash of red occupies the tip of the super-slim central chronograph seconds hand with the Ball Watch logo acting as a counterweight near the central axis of the dial.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

However, there is one particular aspect to the specification which differentiates the BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU from many of its rivals. A grand total of 21 micro gas tubes deliver incredible visibility in restricted light. I marvelled at the dial and hands glowing as I used a UV-light to reveal the numerous flourishes of brightly coloured accents. There really is no excuse for being late.

The dial offers excellent legibility and is a fundamental strength of the BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU.

The case

The titanium case is partnered with a stainless steel and titanium bracelet. Everything indicates solidity. While the diameter of the BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is a modest 42mm, the case height of the watch is a significant 17.3mm, with the sapphire crystal alone measuring 3.7mm in depth, reinforcing the perception of ruggedness.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Typical of a diver’s watch, the bezel is unidirectional. The markings on the bezel are luminous, providing a blue emission in dim light.

The bezel is made of chromed ceramic. This material has been adopted by several brands in recent years because it does not fade and proves highly resistant to scratching or corrosion. The bezel design is particularly attractive with scalloped recesses positioned between each grip.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Traditionalists will appreciate the inclusion of a solid case back, conforming to accepted practice for divers’ watches. The case back is stamped with a diving inspired motif referencing the official emblem of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU). Ball Watch has dedicated this watch as a tribute to the work of NEDU, hence the name of the model.

The architecture of the crown and chronograph push pieces underscores the sturdy specification of this watch. Adjacent the knurled detail of the crown is Ball Watch’s patented crown protection system. The device provides a protective cover over the vertical flank of the crown, reducing the likelihood of damage. Moreover, the protective cover will only close once the crown is fully screwed in, preventing water ingress due to a moment of absentmindedness.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Patented know-how is a key aspect of the Ball Watch DNA. This particular watch features a helium escape valve. Although this is not sound unusual, with several watch brands offering helium valves on their divers’ watches, on this occasion it is incorporated into the crown itself, providing a further point of differentiation. Indeed, Ball Watch points out that by adopting this approach, the ‘innovation has eradicated a potential surface liable to warp under the effects of water pressure’.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

On some chronographs depressing a pusher underwater can lead to harmful water ingress, but this is not the case with the Engineer Hydrocarbon Nedu. Furthermore, each push piece features a micro gas tube to aid location in dark conditions.

The stainless steel and titanium bracelet is extendable and includes Ball’s patented triple folding buckle. The design of the bracelet allows it to be worn over a diving suit if required.

BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU - in-depth hands-on watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The titanium case and partial use of titanium for the bracelet may suggest that this is a lightweight offering. However, this is not so. The watch has sufficient heft to provide a sense of value but does not detract from excellent wearer comfort.

The movement

The self-winding Ball Caliber RR1402-C has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz), contains 25 jewels and has a power reserve of 48 hours.

Where Ball Watch company distinguishes this movement from others on the market is by offering impressive shock resistance able to tolerate forces of up to 7500G. The watch movement is also protected from magnetic fields up to 4,800 A/m.

Accuracy is assured with chronometer status, certified by COSC.

Closing remarks

Ball Watch has produced a timepiece capable of withstanding the trauma of deep-sea use with its hardy construction. However, its tough characteristics, together with excellent readability, make a cogent case for potential wear on land.

The blend of chronometer status, patented technology and chronograph function all reinforce the sense of value.

Technical Specification

  • Model: BALL Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU
  • Reference: DC3026A-SA-BK
  • Case: Titanium; diameter 42.00mm; height 17.30mm; water resistant to 60 bar (600 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; day; date; chronograph.
  • Movement: R1402-C movement, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 25 Jewels; Power reserve 48 hours.
  • Bracelet: Titanium and stainless steel bracelet with patented folding buckle & extension system.
  • Price: £3310 (as at 5.3.2015)

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