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Evolution of the Ultimate Wrist Watch

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creative.

At BALL Watch, innovation and creativity are the cornerstones on the foundation of our corporate mission, "Accuracy Under Adverse Conditions". Continuing in the tradition of Webster Clay Ball, BALL Watch aspires to manufacture the most accurate watches on the planet, ruggedized for use by those that live / work / play in truly adverse conditions. With unlimited inspiration, BALL is today setting the standards just as Webster Clay Ball did in the late 1800s and through the early 1900s.

Innovation is Key
BALL Watch is a leader in innovation in many areas: such as the area of night readable dials with self-powered tritium gas lights, where BALL has been proclaimed by a major watch magazine to have made the "most creative use" of the technology and BALL holds a patent on the first night readable illuminated calendar called 'Moonglow'; or the area of water and shock resistance, where BALL's patented crown protection system allows the Engineer Hydrocarbon series to exceed all others with a 7,500 G shock rating and up to 1000 meter water resistance; or the area of magnetism, where BALL's special case design and inner anti-magnetic jacket acheive up to 12,000A/m resistance; or the area of movement oils and low temperature resistance, where BALL offers watches that are certified to function down to - 40 degrees Celsius and further, offers the world's first night readable mechanical thermometer watch!

Self-Powered Micro Gas Lights (3H)

Ever since the invention of clocks, men have been faced with the challenge of telling time in the dark. In medieval times, the invention of mechanical clocks with repeater mechanisms, which chimed the hours and quarter-hours, brought a partial solution. Residents of towns lucky enough to be able to afford a clock and belfry could find the hour during the night with reasonable precision if they paid close attention to the chiming of the bells. In most villages, however, people had no choice but to use a sundial during the day and a graduated candle at night, an imprecise and expensive system.

Self-Powered Micro Gas Lights (3H) are a novel light source manufactured by means of innovative Swiss laser technology that can be used on all types of watches. It provides superior, long-life brightness – 100 times brighter than the current markings using luminous paint, and with a useful life easily reaching 25 years. It does so without charging from the sun or the use of batteries. You can year in and year out read the watch quickly and safely in brightest daylight or deepest night.

 

The long road to today's technology was taken in three stages spanning over several decades. Our third stage state-of-the-art technology permits a 100-fold increase in brightness, combined with 100-fold reduction of the irradiation risk to an absolutely negligible level. The US military has long recognized the advantages of micro gas light sources and their use is specified in procurement specification MIL-W-46374F. With exceptional craftsmanship, our talented watchmakers affix every tiny, delicate gas light on the dials and hands to create the BALL Watch signature design. Just as what we always do to go beyond imagination, our designers make use of the various sizes, shapes and colors of the gas lights to build an array of collections, each with its own unique style. One of the most important breakthroughs was the patented illuminated calendar (Patent pending number: 10-307,059). Inspired by our strong railroad heritage, the pioneering 'Moon Glow' design enables the wearer to read not only the time but also the date clearly under the darkest environment. In the 1947 Train of Tomorrow, the "Moon Glow" was an observation compartment built for friendly relaxation in a cozy environment that provided a magnificent view of the landscape through its wide windows.

Shock Resistance

The pulling of objects toward the center of the Earth by gravity is called G force and is it a measurement of acceleration. The force of gravity while you are sitting or standing is considered 1 G. As you pull more Gs, such as when jumping up and down or when riding on a roller coaster, your weight increases correspondingly. A 10-pound human head will weigh 90 pounds under 9 G acceleration.

Built with the highest of quality standards in mind, every BALL watch has undergone rigid testing procedures to verify shock resistance. This is

 

 

especially true of the unmatched standards of the Engineer Hydrocarbon series, rated up to 7,500 Gs. According to the International Standard (ISO 1413), the shock resistance test is conducted using a pendulum impact-testing machine. The mechanism sets off a circular movement which brings the pendulum to hit the watch from 1 meter. The first shock is directed against the side of the case, parallel to the plane of the watch, on the 9 o'clock side. The second shock is directed against the glass, perpendicular to the plane of the watch.

At Ball Watch Co., we go beyond the above standard by hitting with a tougher 1.5 meter hammer strike and adding a third shock directed against the relatively weaker 3 o'clock crown position of the watch. The Hydrocarbon must pass the test without any damage. Finally, the sapphire glass used in the Engineer Hydrocarbon collection is specially made 4mm thick for better protection.

Anti-Magnetic

Mechancial watch accuracy is easily affected by magnetic fields. Even a brief contact with a man-made magnet, which is very common in our daily lives, will lead to magnetization of an automatic mechanical movement. BALL has a solution to this problem.

What does the term "anti-magnetic" actually mean within the watch industry? The existing standard is defined thus:

   
   
if a mechanical watch does not stop when exposed to a magnetic field of 4,800 A/m and subsequently does not deviate by more than 30 seconds per day, it can be called "anti-magnetic". Our watch collections achieve this by a special case design constructed with corrosion-resistant ferrite stainless steel materials and a special inner soft iron jacket consisting of a back plate and a ring surrounding the movement and the dial. This special alloy, reinforced by the shape of the inner case, prevents magnetic fields from penetrating as far as the movement and has no adverse effect on its accuracy.

The ultimate explorer watches, the Engineer Hydrocarbon series far surpasses the common standard with a magnetic tolerance up to 12,000A/m.

Low Temperature Movement Oil

Movement oil plays an important role in every mechanical movement as it acts as a lubricant to reduce the friction between contact surfaces of the many different small components within. Without the movement oil, the friction created between components will wear out the movement and adversely affect its accuracy.

Any surface contains irregularities, even when polished to a mirror finish. Therefore, when two surfaces are gently brought together, only some points on the surfaces make contact and wear against each other. The purpose of movement oil is to fill in the irregularities between surfaces.

With lubrication, a protective film is present on each surface where there is contact between two surfaces. The protective film must adhere to the surface and must resist being sheared off or pushed aside by the movement of the surfaces, particularly under a load and through temperature changes.

Today's commonly available lubricants are manufactured from petroleum and consist of chains of carbon and hydrogen called alkanes. An oil molecule usually has between 15 to 20 carbon atoms, while a grease molecule will have 20 to 25. The side of the hydrogen atoms facing away from the carbon atoms has a slight positive charge, attracting it to the sea of electrons of the metals. This force will of course be considerably stronger in a longer carbon chain. The lubricant adheres to the surface yet easily slips over other lubricant molecules, reducing the level of friction as lubricant molecules rub together rather than brass and steel surfaces.

A lubricant with a longer carbon chain is less volatile, that is, it does not evaporate as easily. As the temperature rises, vibrations break apart the lubricant molecules, leaving a watch movement vulnerable to damage. Because molecules with longer carbon chains vibrate less at a given temperature, they are less likely to evaporate.

On the other hand, we must consider what happens to a lubricant in colder temperatures. In this case, the weight of longer carbon chains is no longer a benefit. Oils with higher molecular weights will thicken more rapidly and clog a watch movement.

In practice, manufacturers blend oils to modify and perfect the lubricating and thickness properties of the combined mixture. When considering how thick a lubricant to use, one must determine the thickness of that lubricant at the coldest temperature the timepiece will be subjected to. Watches worn on the wrist under normal conditions should not be lubricated with the ultra-thin lubricants necessary in extremely cold environments. By blending watch oils, a talented watchmaker can achieve perfect lubrication in all temperature ranges.

Our researchers at Ball Watch Company have engineered timepieces with special lubrication for expeditions in the North and South Poles. These timepieces feature specially blended Swiss watch oils that give the watches an operating temperature range from -40°C to 60°C. This special feature allows the Engineer Hydrocarbon to fulfill its promise as a dependable partner for Richard Limeburner in his search for the USS Alligator under the icy ocean.

Patented Crown Protection

A special crown protection system was designed for the Engineer Hydrocarbon series to guarantee its exceptional water resistance of up to 1000 meters and its unequaled shock resistance of 7,500 Gs.

As shown to the right, a protective plate rotates to lock into position around the crown, which ensures the crown must have been screwed down to its original secure position after time adjustment. Thus all crown / stem seals are engaged and water resistance is assured.

This crown protection system also protects the crown and winding stem from damage due to shock. By industry standards, the crown is not considered part of shock testing. However, here at BALL we take that extra step to certify that the most sensitive part of the watch is also just as durable as the rest of the watch. BALL includes a third test for shock resistance that includes a 7,500 G strike directly to the crown in the locked position to ensure its durability.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is tested by immersing the watch completely in distilled water containing a wetting agent of 1% by weight and under different levels of atmospheric pressure (depending on the watch series) for at least 5 minutes. To be qualified, the watch must not show any evidence of leakage.