When it comes to the watches that Ball Watch has on offer, it is like a double-edged sword, at least to me. What first drew me in to the brand was the Engineer line, with its bold styling and use of multi-colored tritium tubes. As I have spent time with the brand’s wares (and refined my own tastes), I have come to realize that I prefer things a bit more subdued (such as with the Ball Watch Engineer II Marvelight or Trainmaster Kelvin. That all said, I think another great – and entry-level – option from the brand would be the Ball Watch Night Train DLC.
In this case, I believe the ‘Fireman’ part of the collection refers not to those who keep our structures safe from fire, but actually to one of the crew members on a train, as Ball of course had their start with the railroads. Curious, then, that the Ball Watch Night Train DLC has a bit of an aviator flair to it. That, of course, comes courtesy of the handset, and truly is the only aviator influence I picked up on. Then again, when you have a handset like that, it is hard to miss. Those hands each contain one of the 75 tritium tubes found on the watch, of course providing easy reading of the time at night.
On the dial, you find the other 72 tritium tubes (don’t forget, the seconds hand has one). These light up in three colors, which makes for a nice show in a darkened room. You’ll also note that on the major indices, there are two tubes stacked together. Why not go with the wider, squared-off tubes as found on the Marvelight? Frankly, I think it boils down to styling. With the double-tube application, it presents as a slimmer look when viewed. Frankly, for how this one is put together, I think the narrow tubes make more sense. There is one spot that I think could use some experimentation, and that is with the handset.
While the tubes mounted there do indeed make reading the time in the dark a snap, I found myself wanting more, especially with how wide this particular handset is. I do not think mounting more tubes would be the answer (as you would not want the extra weight straining the center arbor). However, I am curious if something could be done to sort of “edge light” the hands. Think about a piece of plexiglass or acrylic that has been engraved. If you put a light to the edge of the piece, the engraving will light up (as will the rest of the edges). I wonder if something similar couldn’t be done – create hands out of a material (let’s pick acrylic) and leave the edges unpainted. Tuck some of their smaller tubes near the arbor (covered, of course, on top) and let the edges of the handset be outlined by an ephemeral tritium glow. Who knows, perhaps this is something that they’ve experimented with, and wrote off. It’s just something that struck me with the Ball Watch Night Train DLC in particular, and the mind began to wander.
That’s probably enough digital ink on the tritium for this review – there certainly is more to the watch. For starters, how about that 45mm case (11.65mm thick) with it’s PVD coating? Normally, I would not pick out a 45mm watch as fitting to my wrist well. Somehow, the Ball Watch Night Train DLC actually manages to wear a bit smaller, and I felt it was a good fit. Some of that may be due to the DLC coating, but I think the case design – with it’s rounded bezel and stepped, lyre-style, lugs) has a lot to do with reducing the visual bulk. Whatever the reason, it’s one that I felt fit me pretty well. As long as we’re talking visuals, there were two spots that struck me as odd.
First off, for as dark as the watch is, the inclusion of a white date wheel just seems off. Sure, if fits within the overall black and white scheme, but a black date wheel would look so much better. The second item is the crown. When I opened up the packaging, I was rather surprised to see that bare steel crown set against the PVD of the case. One one hand, it does further differentiate the Ball Watch Night Train DLC, and it likely simplifies things on the manufacturing side. And, you know, that also probably helps with the watch feeling smaller – your eyes pick up the darker case, and the lighter crown sort of gets skipped over. While it did seem odd to me at first, when I was wearing the watch, it really was something that faded into the background.
The Ball Watch Night Train DLC comes paired with a natural rubber strap (loaded with vanilla scent) that helps keep the weight down to 114g. This resulted in a watch that was pretty flexible in terms of where I wore it (to the office, on the weekend, and even with a suit), and of course the rubber strap gives you a sportier feel, lending further support to the idea that this is the sort of a watch that would be ready for anything (5,000g shock resistance is nothing to sneeze at). If you wanted to play up the aviator theme, you could opt for a riveted black leather strap (with white contrast stitching I’m thinking) in the aftermarket and go that route.
In the end, the Ball Watch Night Train DLC offers a lot of what the brand is known for (solid reliability with a lot of tritium) with a bit of an aviator flavor. While I felt the design had a few elements that were off, they were not anything that I would say sinks the watch as a viable option. At an price of $2,099, it’s also one of the more affordable options if you’re looking to add a Ball to your collection. While I do not personally own one, I have handled quite a few, and they are unlike anything else you likely have played with – so it’s worth a consideration, especially if you’re a bit of a lume seeker. ballwatch.com
- Brand & Model: Ball Watch Night Train DLC
- Price: $2,099
- Who’s it for?: You are looking to add something with tritium illumination to your collection and want that aviator sort of feel
- Would I wear it?: That’s a tossup. If I were picking amongst the whole of the Ball Watch collection, I would not say that this is my favorite. That all aside, this is a watch that would get into the rotation for sure
- What I’d change: Aside from DLC on the crown, I’d love to see something worked out with the handset like I wrote about above
- The best thing about it: If that wasn’t clear at this point, it’s the tritium wrapped into a fairly reserved package
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