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If a Rolex Submariner has long been on your shopping list, then so should a Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original. There’s a new model coming out in less than a fortnight’s time to mark the model’s 15th anniversary, and with it comes Ball’s famed self-powered micro H3 gas tubes, said to give off 100 times more light intensity than even the best quality SuperLuminova. In addition to being deployed on hands and indexes, these are placed for the first time below the dial for even greater luminosity.

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Patricks Lab, BALL Watch Company’s proprietary research and development arm, set out to design a sporty-sophisticated watch, which, as with so many modern sports watches, is made to do a tough job, but also offer plenty of appeal for the ardent desk diver in the bragging rights department.

Most people think of Ball as the brand that took the fledgling American railroad industry by the scruff of the neck and made it punctual and reliable with a long series of excellent pocket watches. But since those far off days, like Hamilton, Ball is now Swiss made. However, it still makes watches purely for industrial function.

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Sturdy, robust, uncompromising and all those other adjectives that describe toughness in a tool watch, the Engineer Hydrocarbon Original is a watch you can wear in some of the most inhospitable reaches of the deep. Yes, we know in reality divers work with dive computers, but the point they are making is this is a professional dive watch.

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In this regard, the unidirectional bezel is graduated to help divers accurately measure their dive time and adjust decompression stops safely. The watch features special indents so as to adjust the watch either with or without diving gloves. The black dial, (you can have any dial color as long as it’s black), features a day/date window at 3 o’clock with chunky cathedral hands that point to Submariner style indices.

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Water-resistant to 200 meters, beneath the 40mm surgical steel case beats a COSC-certified BALL RR1102-CSL automatic movement; an ETA 2836-2 base with 38 hours of power reserve. The movement features hours, minutes, central seconds, day and date functions. The movement is protected by two patented devices to shield it from impact. The SpringSEAL® system protects the regulator assembly to prevent it from a change of position, and the SpringLOCK® system, a modern-day incabloc system that covers the hairspring so as to limit the unfurling of the coils and to prevent from twisting. And all of this is further protected by the Amortiser® anti-shock system that surrounds the movement and absorbs bumps and bangs during exploration.

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The unusual-looking crown with its patented protection system consists of a valve covering it to ensure that it is securely screwed-in and inaccessible when diving. In fact, this is the only feature that will have people believe you are wearing anything other than a Submariner.

With its stainless steel bracelet and deployant clasp, coupled with its sober looks, you won’t get full marks for dive watch originality with this model, it’s firmly rooted in the Submariner inspired camp. But for an overengineered dive watch with plenty of built-in accuracy, reliability, and protection, not to mention a realistic price tag of US$2,380, it’s certainly worthy of a second look.

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