Ball DeepQuest II close up on wrist

Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. As far as I know, Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t write about watches for the Internet. But I do, and I’ve consistently sung the praises of minimalist timepieces. Whatever else it is, the BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST II isn’t that. It’s ugly and ungainly. And yet . . .

The DeepQUEST II has uberholt prestige. That’s the German expression for a car whose aggressive looks and obvious high-speed capability say “get the fuck out of my way.” Think Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS sitting on your rear bumper at 140 miles per hour on the autobahn. Waiting. Like a bahn burner, the BALL watch has unavoidable presence.

Side of Ball DeepQuest II

A lot of that has to do with the DeepQUEST II’s sheer size. BALL’s website claims the case is 42mm. Measuring across the bezel, I make it to be 46mm. And quite the bezel it is too. Viewed from the side, it looks like a flying saucer that lowered itself onto a undersized landing pad.

The contrast between the bezel’s high polish coin edge and the brushed case is particularly jarring. As is the silvery crown exploding from the watch’s side with vesuvian abandon.  And if that’s not enough to make the DeepQUEST II stand out like a cigar smoker in a new baby ward, there’s everything else.

Close up Ball

A black double-sunk dial lies deep beneath an anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Off-white indices stand proud of the surface in high relief. The 2 in the 12 and the 6 are formed by indices arranged like matchsticks – a crude solution that never fails to capture the eye. And not in a good way. The semi-skeletonized hands are equally square. And not in a Huey Lewis and the News kinda way.

Ball whole thing

At least the DeepQUEST II’s date window is small enough to be unreadable. But wait! There’s more! Literally. The Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST II is a towering 15.5mm tall. Compare that to the not insubstantial Rolex Submariner, a watch that dares stand 13mm. And here’s where I pivot to why I like this thing.

A Rolex Submariner doesn’t look like a dive watch. It’s too elegant, too schwing to evoke – never mind perform – underwater work. Which is why millions of non-divers love it. The only person who could love the BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST II is someone who’s not afraid to stand on the kitchen table at a party and belt out there ain’t nothing like the real thing baby. Naked.

Ball caseback

Someone who understands, appreciates and maybe even does scuba diving. We’re talking about a Swiss made behemoth that’s water resistant to 1000m/3300 ft (as opposed to the Rolex’s 300m/1000 ft).

As you’d expect – assuming you’re familiar with hypoxic breathing gas – BALL equipped the DeepQUEST II with a helium release valve to prevent the crystal from popping off when returning from a deep dive. Unlike the OMEGA Seamaster 300M’s side wart, the DeepQUEST II sequesters its neva been dun befoe HEV system in the crown.

That’s as subtle as this thing gets. But not as macho. Shock resistance? The DeepQUEST II laughs at 7,500Gs. Anti-magnetism? It’ll survive an electrifying 4,800 A/m. Fourteen hundred newton impact on the patented buckle? Nice try.

Timegraph BALL

In short, the BALL DeepQUEST II is a brick shit house that looks like a brick shit house. A COSC-certified shit house, no less.

Strapped to the Timegrapher, the DeepQUEST II proved its temporal mettle, providing -1 second per day accuracy. No surprise there. The BALL’s smooth sweeping second hand’s powered by a top grade ETA 2892-2, also used by OMEGA and Breitling.

With ye olde Incabloc shock protection system, 42 hours of power reserve and plenty of available parts, the rechristened BALL caliber RR1101-C is a sensible choice for a hefty hefty hefty timepiece.

Knuckle duster

Yes there is that. Despite the fact that the case is made from a single block of titanium connected to a titanium and stainless steel bracelet, the DeepQUEST II tips the scales at 6.9 ounces.

On the positive side, diving weights? We don’t need no stinkin’ diving weights! Alternatively, the DQ II is an awesome knuckle duster. On the negative side, the BALL diver makes the 5.5 ounce Rolex Submariner look like a lightweight.

Ball DeepQUEST II lume shot

Don’t worry about breaking your toe on a carelessly discarded DeepQUEST II. Its tritium tubes are bright enough to guide lost ships on a dark and stormy night. OK, maybe not that bright. But luminous enough to serve as a baby’s nightlight? You betcha! Just hope your rug rat grows out of their nyctophobia by the time they reach 25, when the tritium tubes will glow no mo’.

Ball railway watch

I collect Ball railroad pocket watches. The DeepQUEST II is as far from those minimalist meisterwerks as you can get without buying a Wilbur Watches Launch Edition. But I don’t think Webb C. Ball would be outraged by this horological sea monster.

Mr. Ball’s watches were minimalist only because the design maximized legibility, preventing train collisions. The DeepQUEST II is ginormous and aesthetically challenged only because it was built to survive deep dives, preventing underwater mishap.

Ball DeepQuest II and Vette

Both railroad timekeeping and deep diving technology have moved on. That shouldn’t stop us from admiring watches designed and built to do a job, no matter how plain or pug ugly they may be.

Sure, $3749 is a heavy price to pay for obsolete authenticity. But honestly? The DeepQUEST II couldn’t care less what you think. Yeah, it’s that tough.

Model: Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST II
Price: $3749


Case: Titanium single block
Size: 46mm X 15.5mm
Lug width: 21mm
Lug to lug: 53mm
Bezel: unidirectional 120-click rotating bezel with Super LumiNova
Crystal: Anti-reflective sapphire
Bracelet: Titanium and stainless steel w/folding buckle extension system
Crown: Screw-down crown with patented helium release valve
Lume: 24 micro gas tubes on indices; hour, minute and second hands
Weight: 6.9 ounces
Water Resistance: 1000m/3300ft
Anti-Magnetism: 4,800A/m
Shock resistance: 7,500Gs
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * *
Two stars for daring to be so ugly.

Legibility * * * * *
A saving grace.

Comfort * * *
Heavy AF despite titanium case and bracelet bits. Pro tip: don’t rest your arm on a table – the patented folding buckle makes quite an impression.

Overall  * * * *
An extremely capable aesthetic affront that’s built like a tank.


TTAW is a fully independent watch website
Ball lent us this watch for review. No other considerations provided


  1. I am totally perplexed by how the HEV goes in the crown, but I guess that is a factor of oversize everything.
    Congratulations on avoiding a “balls deep” gag. I keep seeing the browser tab for this article an I giggle each time.
    I agree that there is an honesty to these that pardons many misgivings.

  2. What a watch print! 46mm you say? Do not have the balls to wear this one. Golly. Gave it one look and it shouted back to me ‘I have a helium release valve hiding somewhere’.

    I do like the previously reviewed BALLs though and am enamored of the matchstick fonts as originally highlighted by Mr Racer88. 24 micro-gas-tube-matchstick-fonts; love it. Captures my eye in a good way; sorta old school or folksy or something. Maybe it is childroom memories of building houses out of burnt matchsticks. Toy houses that is.

    ROTFL about the diving weight.

    Sure there is a market for these though, as this is for Panerai. Heft and Holler – “I am wearing a diving watch with a helium release valve in the crown which I can also hang my scuba suit on”.

    One question – will it scare off the sharks?

  3. I completely agree that the Submariner is too posh to be a dive watch, but at $3,749 so is this Ball, and at least with Rolex one gets a brand that justifies the price.

    The accuracy is impressive. One thing I wonder about with review loaner watches is whether manufacturers are supplying “ringers”, as was often, and probably still is often the case with the cars that get provided to reviewers. A watch manufacturer, particularly a small one, has a big incentive to make sure that the media loaners are particularly well adjusted.

    Be wary of companies that state anti-magnetism in A/m. 4,800 A/m is 60 gauss.

    It’s interesting that Ball went through the effort (and added the repair difficulty) of making this a front loading watch, minimizing points of entry by not having a caseback that opens, but then included an HEV as a point of failure.

    Adjusted for inflation a Submariner from the ’60s cost about $1,000, and that’s where I recommend people cap out on dive watches to keep them true tool watches. Doxa, Squale, Zodiac, and Ollech & Wajs, and Swatch Group have great options in that range, and of course there is Seiko.

    • I’m guessing it was taken in a mirror. Image is reversed (look at the 6 and the 12 indices… and the “Ball” logo).

      Ah… that’s better!

      • Oh… other things “wrong” with this picture:

        1. Smartwatch on wrist. Heresy!

        2. Bezel pip is not perfectly aligned with the 12 index. Aaaagh! My eyes! My eyes!

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