A little over two years ago, we brought you word of Ball teaming up with Ducks Unlimited to help raise funds for wetlands conservation, via the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited (you can read about that here). While I’m not a hunter, the effort they’re supporting seemed good, and I ended up picking one up for myself. Which means, of course, we get to give you the full review.
While the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited is obviously focused on the partnership, the branding is not something you’ll find all that distracting. On the dial side, you’ve got the Ducks Unlimited logo showing up at the 6 o’clock position, and then on the caseback, you’ve got a more detailed visual. From the wrist, however, it does not necessarily jump out at you.
What does jump out about the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited is just how cleanly legible the watch is. In the light, you’ve got the white-on-black scheme, with slightly longer tritium tubes marking out the hours, and shorter ones for the interstitial minutes. The 30 and 60 on the dial remind you of that as well, and then the oversized 9 balances out the date display. I never had a problem picking out the handset either, as the high polish really grabs all of the light that it can, so you can easily see the time against the dark dial.
Of course, once the lights go down, that’s where the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited (or any Ball, for that matter) truly begins to shine (yes, the pun was intended). That’s of course due to the tritium tubes. The minute tubes are in green, hours in yellow (with orange for 12 o’clock); the handset features white tubes. In short, a full variety of colors that both work together, and ensure you can make sense of what your eyes are perceiving. While it’s not the full rainbow arrangement that I’ve been entranced by on some of their recent releases, this does give you a lot of variety.
On the wrist, the proportions of the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited are just about perfect, in terms of the 40mm case diameter against the 20mm bracelet. Viewed from the side, the 11.3mm height can look a bit thick in proportion, but it doesn’t wear like a puck. If you’ve worn any sort of steel sports watch or diver, you’ll be right at home here. And from my experience, anything that isn’t a dress option from Ball does tend to be thicker, to offer up all of the resistances (shock, magnetic, water) that they offer, as well as fitting in space for the rotor of the automatic movement.
Since I’ve gotten the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited in, I’ve been wearing it as my primary watch when I’ve not been winding through some of the various review loaners that have hit the desk. The bracelet is comfortable, and being mostly a brushed finish, it doesn’t feel overly dressy. Then again, it does have polished accents, as do large parts of the case, which means you can easily wear this watch with a suit should the occasion call for it.
That’s not all the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited is intended for, of course. It’s meant for the outdoors, and I’ve had it out and about in the cold weather up here, and fully intend to take it with me when camping season hits here in the Midwest. It should be a capable timekeeper for all of that, with the added bonus of being able to easily tell just how late it’s gotten while sitting around the campfire. If you want to pick up your own, the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited goes for $1,199 in the configuration we’ve shown here, or $1,449 for a Mossy Oak-patterned dial. You can check out the details, and order your own, at ballwatch.ch.
Tech Specs from Ball
- Movement: Automatic caliber BALL RR1103
- Power Reserve: 38 hours
- Shock Resistance: 5,000Gs
- Stainless Steel
- Diameter: 40mm
- Height 11.3 mm
- Water Resistance: 100m/330ft
- Anti-magnetism: 4,800A/m
- Patented Micro Gas Tubes: 63 tubes on the hour, minute, second hands and dial combine to produce unsurpassed luminosity for night reading capability without an external power source?100 times brighter than luminous paint
- Functions: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds and date
- Crown: Screwed-in crown
- Crystal: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
- Bracelet: Stainless steel