This review will be a bit different than the others. I think I will go as far as calling this a love story, not a review.
I usually don’t start it all off, presenting the conclusion, but it is no secret that I have a soft spot for Ball watches. I need to get this off my chest, right here and right now. I love this watch! I am in love with a watch! I have discussed this with my better half and assured her that I love her as well. I am all clear to let you know why a man can fall in love, head over heels, with a hot chunk of metal and glass. So now you know which way this is going…
Skindivers has always been a type of watches that has intrigued me. The sleek design, the historical part of the glory days of diving, the vast amounts of models from the big brands to local watchmakers on a French corner. When thinking of the era when diving became immensely popular, in the late 50’s and 60’s, I get a bit sentimental. If there was a time that I would like to be a part of, these decades are high on the list. This might seem a bit weird, since I have never dived, other than in the summers when I was a teenager. Not far away from the beach, only to try on some new goggles and to look at the local seaweed. And a crab.
I can’t put my finger on the exact reason behind this fascination, but it triggers something inside of me. I know this is a review/love story about the Ball Skindiver II, but I must mention one of the most touching stories in my years as a watch enthusiast. I got deeply into the story of the brand Ollech & Wajs, a brand I discovered through endless searches for vintage watches on eBay. I knew absolutely nothing about them, only that I found their name a bit catchy. Having a series of nice, watches I decided to do some research. I am not going to get into that story now, but it sums up very much my passion for both divers and military watches. And the thing that made it all very special to me was another search I made online, trying to find a place to buy an OW. I ended up on a site, a quite cheesy site to be honest. It contained a menu of different models, no pictures, only a form where I could submit my credit card number. All the alarm bells were ringing, and I was to leave the site. But at the bottom I discovered an email address, and I thought It would not do any harm to send them an email, asking for pictures. I got a short answer the same day, telling me that the OW company had been sold some years earlier. I replied, telling about my fascination of their watches and history.
Some days later I got another email, and this time he presented himself and told me a bit more. It was from Mr. Wajs himself, 88 years old. He was very thankful for my kind words and told me he had to give up his business as a watchmaker because of his sight getting weaker. For a couple of minutes, I sat on the couch, looking into the wall. I could not hold my tears back. I felt the history came so close, almost too close. From reading their fantastic story, to suddenly, first hand, know that it all has come to an end. Happenings like these makes a deep impression on a fragile soul…
Back to the Ball. What makes this watch such a glorious timepiece? As with all Ball watches, the lume is an important part of the fascination, but with the Skindiver II, it is not only the bright lights that draw my attention. It is the design, the presence, the huge flat surface, the bezel with the luminous insert, the shape of the case, the bracelet and the rugged crown. When Ball designs a watch and the tritium tubes are not the biggest eye catcher, you know it is a special one.
Even if the looks of this fantastic watch have been simplified, compared to the former Skindiver I, the details still amaze me. Being “only” 14mm thick, the depth of the dial, featuring 15, double sized gas tubes, 12 on the dial and one on each hand, is massive. The tubes shine in bright green, except from the tube at twelve and on the hands, that glows in warm orange. The ceramic bezel has got luminous numbers and indexes that shines in bright blue. Another great touch is how the large tubes are carved into the chapter ring. The easiest thing to do would have been to reduce the size of the tubes and kept them lying on the dial, but this design really completes the looks on the front of the watch.
In profile, it has the looks of a navy officers’ hat and I’m waiting for it to give me orders not to act like a soft chickenwrist, but get it all together, be a marine and get into the water!
The features mentioned above is enough to make a man, or a woman, like this watch, but what makes me go as far as falling in love with it? Straight angles, curves, brushed and polished steel, the hobnail finish on the large screw down crown and bezel’s edge, the shape of the case, the weight, the presence and the large, flat front of the watch. The case itself measures 43mm, but the bezel stretches out to reach 44,5mm. This does not only make the unidirectional, 120 click bezel easy to use, it gives the watch a bad ass attitude! The flat front is connected to a 1,3mm “neck” that connects it to the case.
Inside the Skindiver II you will find the COSC certified movement RR1103-C, based on the ETA2824-2. The water resistance is set to 500m and the watch is fitted with a helium release valve. This feature seems to occur on every 300m+-diver these days, but for most of us, its functionality is never used. Shock resistance is set to 5000G and it’s anti magnetic up to 4800A/m, just enough to get you through your everyday life above the surface.
You might wonder how I can wear this watch? I am worried that my arm will break in half every time I put on a timepiece that weighs more than 100 grams. I have had some massive divers in the past, up to 48mm, but sold or flipped them after a week. Even if this watch isn’t as big as the biggest boys out there, it is substantial. From lug to lug it measures almost 54mm. That is close to one centimeter more than I usually prefer! It almost covers the width of my wrist, missing only by 0,34mm.
Maybe it is just a bit big for my wrist, but with true love and willpower, it fits like a glove. The small-linked engineer bracelet is as smooth as a bracelet can be and the surface area on the case back, that rests on my wrist, is just 27mm wide. A case back engraved with the emblem of the United States Coast Guard, a tribute to Ball’s heritage and American history.
As much as I love this watch, I also respect it very much. Being a high specs masterpiece with an extremely firm design, I feel Ball has made another classic with this watch. They have been true to the origins and developed an up to date, modern sized tool, that ticks all of my boxes. I have had a crush on both Ball’s Skindivers, without ever seing them in real life, so when I finally got my hands on the Skindiver II, the bar was already raised to the sky. Could this watch live up to my expectations?
110% yes! I have had many sad moments when favorites have disappointed on arrival, but the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II, with the hot model number DM3108A-SCJ-BK, is even more fantastic than I hoped it would be.
So, to wrap it all up, I’m not going out for a walk in the rain or expose the watch to other extreme conditions, I’m just going to give it a kiss, on the 44,5mm, flat, delicious, AR-coated sapphire and ceramic front.