It’s time to get on with this “Ball Mini Marathon”, and in what better way than to start with the Engineer II Magneto S?
With this watch, it’s impossible not to get technical. I will try to keep it in a passion-tech state of mind, as I dig into the specs, lume and details of this watch.
I have always liked gadgets. Things that let me interact and take part, makes me happy and often tricks me into spending time and money on it. Back in the days, when I was young and fearless, I had the need to push buttons, turn knobs and check how sharp knives were. My speciality is to turn on vintage televisions in vintage clothing stores. I need to check if they still work, and every single time they turned out to be fully functional, no signal though, but with the volume set to max. Another hobby is, as mentioned, to check the knives in the stores that sells kitchen stuff. Some of the knives are so sharp I won’t feel the cut in my thumb, only to notice a blood trail all the way through the store. My better half is not too happy about the extreme testing…
Back to the watch. Anti-magnetic, that the key word with the Magneto S. It’s built to withstand 80000 A/m. I have to admit it is a number that doesn’t tell me more than it can withstand a serious amount of magnetism, without interrupting the accuracy of the movement. To be able to stamp a watch with the anti-magnetic sign, it must be able to handle 4800 A/m. I have tried to go deeper into what these numbers mean, but as a simple, yet passionate chickenwrist, I do not want to go into science-mode and embarrass myself, trying to convince you that I know things I don’t…
Protecting the movement from magnetism has most often been solved by wrapping it up in a solid inner case, made of some special alloy. I like watches with these abilities, but at the same time, I don’t like that all is hidden behind “thick” metal. How to solve this? How to combine beauty and the ability to keep the watch safe from the magnetic, everyday surroundings?
A-PROOF! The name itself is maybe not that hot, but the feature is fantastic. It even makes, an already beautiful open case back, more beautiful. Ball has designed and solved this issue by adding a diaphragm mechanism which is operated by turning the coin edge bezel. Being a gadget-guy, this is heaven. The bezel feels smooth as silk when turned, and the showstopper is to see the iris inside the case back opens and closes, protecting the movement when needed. The 0,06mm thick sheets used in this diaphragm, is made of mumetal, an alloy with great abilities when it comes to shielding sensitive equipment from static or low-frequency magnetic fields. Combining this with Ball’s SpringLOCK system, that prevents the movement to be damaged by shocks and impacts up to 5000G, this watch will keep its accuracy even in the toughest conditions. So, if you think these features is made just to give the watch a fancy look, think again.
To finish off the inside of the watch, the movement is a Ball RR1103-CSL. With the ETA 2824 as base, Ball has, amongst other adjustments, fitted the SpringLOCK system and refined it to the standards of a Chronometer (COSC).
The case measures 42mm in diameter, without the screw down crown, the height is 12,9mm, lug to lug is 49mm and between the lugs it’s 21mm. For a guy that’s addicted to changing straps several times every day, 21mm is not the most useful size. The strap that is fitted is a robust Cordura. It feels a bit stiff in the beginning, but after using it for a day, it softens and gets comfortable and nice. The strap, with the standard Ball-buckle, suits the watch very well.
The case has polished sides and the top and bottom of the lugs are brushed. It’s not the most advanced finishing, but together with the large, shiny, coin edge bezel, it looks lovely. To really appreciate the looks of the case, it has to be seen in real life, to see how the light is reflected in ways that makes me want to take pictures of it all day long.
Sapphire crystals both in front and on the case back. The slightly domed crystal in front also has an AR coating.
On the left side of the crown you will notice a small window, which made me scratch my head for a little while, not knowing its purpose. After turning the bezel back and forward 29 times, I noticed that the window turned white and suddenly understood that it is an indicator that tells you if the A-PROOF system is activated or not. A small, but great feature, made so you don’t have to take your watch off the wrist to check if its ready to join you in magnetic environments. It’s even got itself a splash of lume, so you will see it in the dark.
The lume is always a chapter on its own when talking about Ball. One of the things that makes a Ball so easy to recognise, is the use of the small glass-tubes, filled with tritium gas. The Magneto S is equipped with 15 of these, on every five minutes mark and on the second, minute and hour hands. The fat and massive chapter ring also has got its lumed up parts, but these are with more traditional, “painted” lume, that must be charged with light. The sight of a Ball in darkness is always a stunning view, a lightshow made with green and yellow candies.
The design of the dial is quite unique. The chapter ring is one of the chunkiest out there, which makes the space for the dial quite small. It is not too small, making it hard to read, but it feels a bit compact. On the other hand, I think it has to be this way, not claiming to know if it’s the exact reason, but my thought is that the Diaphragm System has to be stored somewhere when not activated.
The dial is black with very few details, in my opinion the right choice. A sunburst dial, more letters or engravings would make it a bit over the top. The space beneath the sapphire is quite deep, almost feels like a well, making the whole design livelier and 3D’ish. This depth is found in many of Ball’s models, making them extremely satisfying to take photos of.
It's not easy to let the passionate part shine through when describing the tech-specs of this watch. Even how passionate and exited I am writing about this, you guys might not find it as hot to read about magnetism, brushed steel and buckles. But this watch also has the looks, that makes me very fond of Ball. The 42mm width and 12,9mm height fits like 42mm and 12,9mm, the watch has a very high-quality feel to it and it is a watch I want to look at. I actually struggle a bit when it comes to the specific reason why I love the design of the Magneto S. It has a quite unique look, a combination of being delicious, odd, high-tech, vintage-styled and glossy. As in many other aspects of life, the things that doesn’t let you know why you love them, tends to be the ones you love the most and can last decades without falling into the pits of non-lasting design. If this watch has these characteristics, is a bit early to tell, but I have a good feeling that the Magneto will become an all-time Ball classic.
It is a fun watch to wear. As I mentioned earlier, my eyes are often dragged down to my wrist, just to have a look at it. I usually don’t care what time it is, I just want to stare at it. See how the light reflects from the case and shiny bezel, how the thin, green ring, that separates the dial from the curvy chapter ring, matches the green color of the second hand, how the tritium-filled glass tubes elevates gently from the dial, just letting you know that the light yellow, daytime color will explode into a bright, but smooth, color-show when the darkness arrives.
I must advise you to order an extra Cordura when buying this watch. It is not the quality that is bad, it’s the iris on the backside that makes you take off the watch much more often than usual, just to look at the stunning piece of design. Open it, close it, open it again and so on. To see such a beautiful, and high-tech design inside a watch, is a major reason why I love horology.
With so many brands out there, it’s impossible for all watches to be different from each other. I will fully agree that some brands are too close being a true copy of important and historical brands, but with Ball I feel the passion and the spirit to make their own looks and inventions. With the Engineer Magneto S, Ball keeps on making their watches something different from the rest. Pushing the boundaries, both with technical solutions and design. Ball always has some elements of the design telling you that it is a Ball. The tritium might be the strongest indication, as well as the crown guard on the Hydrocarbon series, but with the Magneto S, I feel it’s the whole watch that shows the Ball-gene at its best.
So, to end this review, I will activate the anti-magnetic shields, probably several times just to have look at the sheets sliding into place, and walk outside, into the everyday magnetic fields. Totally relaxed and confident about the accuracy and safety of the watch.