I may never be able to fully explain my love of lume and dive watches, but with the Ball Skindiver II, I can at least frantically point at a shining example. Announced this year at Baselworld 2015, the new Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is an update to the vintage-inspired Skindiver of 2012. The second generation of this diver is a bit bigger and a bit more grown up, all while retaining Ball’s mix of classic dive watch styling with just enough innovation for a modern wrist.
While the OG Skindiver from 2012 was 40.5 mm wide, the new Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is 43mm wide and 14mm thick with a steel case, sapphire crystal, and luminous ceramic bezel scale. Loosely based on a Ball Skindiver model from 1962, the original model stemmed from the growing popularity of skin diving (aka free diving). Those of you who pay attention to free diving know that Ball is quite active and has been a long-time supporter of Guillaume Nery, a free diving world champion and a pioneer within the sport.
With the larger case size comes increased water resistance, now 500m versus the 300m resistance of the previous model. The Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II also features an automatic helium escape valve which, while functionally useless for 99% of the market, has become a hallmark feature on “hardcore” dive watches over the past decade or so.
As with all Ball models, lume is crucial, and the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II features the same bright and legible setup as the preceding model, with 15 double-sized micro gas tubes forming the markers and luminous elements of the hand set. These micro gas tubes glow without requiring any external light for charging, they are bright and hugely legible in low light situations. The luminous ceramic bezel has been carried over from the previous model and offers both excellent legibility, a complete minute scale, and proper scratch resistance.
Aside from the additional 2.5mm of case width, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II can be recognized for an updated and somewhat cleaned-up dial design. The new dial is textured and forgoes the more pronounced minute markers of its older sibling. Also cut from the new design is the eccentric disconnected day and date display, with the Skindiver Part Deux opting for a simple date display at 4:30, where it won’t interfere with any of those glowing tubes. Finally, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II has an orange second hand, a small but noticeable change from the Skindiver’s red second hand.
Inside its up-sized case, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II uses Ball’s RR1103-C, which is an ETA 2824 that has been treated to COSC certification. While treading into the upper-middle range of prices where we normally see the 2824, the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is still a fitting home for such a movement. Ball has not (yet) gone down the road of creating and implementing their own movements and the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II sits at a price point well below newly in-house competition like the Tudor Pelagos ($4125).
The Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II retails for a price of $2799 USD, including both the multi-link steel bracelet and the comfy and sport-ready rubber strap seen in the above photos. While the Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II is a step away from the vintage aesthetic of the previous model, it is a definite step towards the sport dive watch that Ball needs. With a competitive price, simplified design and toolish intentions, it’s hard not to dig the new Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II. After all, it’s a diver and it packs a respectable glow – what’s not to like? ballwatch.com