With the introduction of its new Engineer M Challenger,Ball Watch Co. — the Swiss-made brand with roots in early American railroading — joins the fraternity of watch manufacturers that produce at least one in-house movement. Here’s what you need to know about the watch and the new manufacture Caliber 7309.
Among the noteworthy attributes of the self-winding Caliber 7309 are an 80-hour power reserve, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a chronometer certification from the Swiss testing agency COSC. Appropriately, the Engineer M Challenger’s caseback features a sapphire window to showcase the movement — which is also equipped with the company’s patented Amortiser anti-shock system — and its haute horlogerie finishing. Ball says that this watch will not be its last timepiece to contain an in-house movement, so it seems likely that Caliber 7309 will serve as a base for adding further complications.
At the moment, however, the Challenger is indeed the first and only watch outfitted with the proprietary movement, so let’s examine what else it offers. The stainless steel case is either 40 mm or 43 mm in diameter, water-resistant to 100 meters, and fitted with a screw-down, fluted crown and a nonreflective sapphire crystal over the dial. In addition to the two case sizes, three different dials are available — black, gray, and blue — as well as a choice of stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp, calf leather strap with pin buckle, or NATO textile strap.
About those dials: they feature another hallmark of Ball watches, namely an assortment of strategically placed micro-gas tubes that ensure long-lasting illumination in the darkness. This watch has 31 of these tubes, at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 numerals, at the remaining hour indices, and on the hour, minute, and seconds hands. Unlike the more commonly used Super-LumiNova, the green, luminous gases in these tubes do not require charging from any outside light source.
The Ball Engineer M Challenger will be available at retail in April-May 2018, priced at $2,899 on a strap and $2,999 on a bracelet. However, Ball is offering special, limited-time-only prices on models pre-ordered on its website between now and until January 2018: $1,699 on a strap and $1,799 on a bracelet.