The Ball Engineer III Starlight is a sports watch with a dial featuring large, blocky numerals that look a bit contrived, but there is a good reason for this square-geometry design. The numerals are built of micro gas tubes to provide unparalleled night-time visibility, far better than the usual luminescent paint. There are also gas tubes on the hour, minute and second hands. This is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, available at $899 until 23 May 2018.
Tritium gas tubes, absolutely safe
The dial comprises 51 micro gas tubes on the 46 mm model, and 48 tubes on the 40 mm model. The dial is available in black or blue, and you can choose the gas tube colour, green, yellow or white. The gas tubes are powered by H3 (tritium), producing light that is initially 100 times more intense than SuperLuminova, with a lifetime of 25 years. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, H3, with one proton and two neutrons. It has a half life of about 12 years, decaying into Helium-3, releasing a low-energy beta particle, an electron, and an electron antineutrino. This decay process is very low-energy, and the beta particles can penetrate just 6 mm of air. They are unable to penetrate human skin. So the process is absolutely safe for the wearer. In this Ball watch, tritium gas is sealed in a mineral glass tube, whose interior is coated with luminescent material that glows when activated by the electrons released by tritium as it decays. This luminosity is constantly present, though it will gradually decrease over the years, to 50% after 12 years and 25% after 24 years. But even at that stage, the luminosity will be much brighter than SuperLuminova.
The sports performance of the Ball Engineer III Starlight includes anti-magnetic protection, to 80,000 a/m, offered by a mu-metal (nickel, iron, copper and molybdenum) shield that encapsulates the movement. The case has a water resistance rating of 100 metres, with a screw-in crown. The case is available in two sizes, a moderate 40 mm and a large 46 mm. Both are just over 13 mm in thickness. The watches are available with a stainless steel bracelet with folding buckle, or a lighter rubber strap with pin buckle.
The watch is powered by the Ball RR1102 self-winding movement. This is basically the ETA 2836-2, running at 4 Hertz and providing 38 hours power reserve. The brand offers the possibility of personalizing the caseback with a line of text, limited to 13 characters.
Discount price until 23 May 2018
The watch is available for pre-order until 23 May 2018 at the price of $999, 840 Swiss francs (plus tax), with stainless steel bracelet, and $899, 780 Swiss francs (plus tax), with rubber strap. Pre-ordered watches will be shipped from August/September 2018. They will be available retail from October 2018 at full prices from $1,699, 1,435 Swiss francs. Further information from the Ball Watch Co. website.