We’ve reviewed quite a few different watches from the Swiss company Ball Watch. You’ve no doubt seen their prolific use of tritium tubes on their dials. That’s how I first became aware of then, with the Engineer line and the segmented sort of display that they were doing. Since then, I’ve come to realize that what’s found in their Trainmaster lineup is really more to my liking. Given that, I was definitely on board when the Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours was proposed for a review.
What struck me first, when I opened up the box of the Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours, was just how clean and classic it looked. You’ve got a flat black dial with the indices mounted on it, over which you’ve got the sword blade hands spinning over, as well as the sweeping seconds hand, complete with the Ball logo counterweight. On the dial you’ve got minimal text (always appreciated) and a date display. In other words, you’ve got the basics you might want in a watch. Starting with that scenario, sure, you could end up with a boring watch, so it’s incumbent on the brand to make it stand out in the eyes of a potential owner.
Ball’s go-to trick for that is, of course, the tritium tubes. Here, you’ve got a total of 15 tubes on the dial – one on each indice and hand. This is subtle, and if you didn’t know better, you’d probably just view is as a lame strip on the hands and small pips on the indices. Of course, once the lights go down, you’d realize quickly that you’ve got something else entirely here. I will note that, compared to the Engineer line, or even traditional lume, the tritium tubes on the Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours are not going to be blinding. However, I find that it does give off just the right amount of light to be able to read the time with ease.
The other differentiator that the Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours has going on is right there in the name of the watch – it’s manufacture movement with the 80-hour power reserve. When you turn the watch over, you can plainly see that this is not the standard off-the-shelf Swiss movement from ETA or Selitta. By this, I mean you’ve got a much larger than usual sapphire crystal in the caseback, and the movement actually fills that whole window. That’s a quick way to see if you’ve got a small movement (with a spacer) shoved into a larger case – how small the caseback window is (along with the placement of the date display). This movement has a lovely bit of finishing on it, as does the counterweight. It makes for an impressive presentation, which anyone who is in to watches will certainly appreciate.
One thing that is difficult to put into words is how unexpected the 80-hour power reserve is on the movement. Not that it’s there, but how it works in practice. As a reviewer, I have a number of watches coming in and heading out, and something more in the realm of 30-40 hours is what one comes to expect. Which, since I rotate the loaner watches around, I’m usually used to having to wind up and reset whatever watch it is. When that happened with the Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours, that was very much not the case. Easy leave it in the case for 3 days, pull it out, and have it keeping the accurate time.
On the wrist, the $2,799 Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours is a fairly unassuming watch. But that is part of why you would buy a watch like this. Not so much to showboat with, but to just have a quiet piece doing some clever things under the dial (and over it, when it’s dark). The bracelet was comfortable enough, and I do like that it’s got some polished center links in the mix picking up the polished surfaces of the case. Also worth noting is just how well (just about perfectly) the end links follow the profile of the lugs – something many brands don’t get quite right. That said, I’m sure swapping in a nice leather strap would work quite nicely as well. If you’re on the look for a subtly designed watch with some solid chops under the hood, and you’re a fan of tritium, this Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours is certainly a good place to start. Like the general idea but want something a touch different? Well, the rest of the Trainmaster lineup likely has something to tickle your fancy. ballwatch.com
- Brand & Model: Ball Trainmaster Manufacture 80 Hours
- Price: $2,799
- Who’s it for? You like the looks of a classically-styled watch, but also want some of that sweet, sweet tritium illumination
- Would I wear it? Indeed – this is is a style (and size) of watch that is right in my wheelhouse
- What I’d change: I wouldn’t have minded if the cyclops from the Ball Fireman Enterprise had made the leap over. Also, let’s color-match that date wheel.
- The best thing about it: The crisp, clean, and compact looks
Tech Specs from Ball
- Automatic manufacture calibre BALL RRM7309-C
- Chronometer certified COSC
- 80 hours power reserve
- 15 micro gas tubes on hour, minute, second hands and dial for night reading capability
- Hours, minutes, sweep seconds and date
- Shock resistance: 5,000 Gs
- Water resistance: 50m
- Anti-magnetic: 4,800 A/m
- Stainless Steel
- Diameter: 40mm
- Height: 12.25mm
- Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
- Anti-reflective sapphire crystal case back
- Band: stainless steel bracelet with folding buckle
- Dial: black, blue or silver