New Watch Alert: BALL, Longines, Bulova

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BALL Roadmaster TMT Ceramic – $2,149 (pre-order)

New watch alert - BALL Roadmaster TMT Ceramic

I’ve consistently argued that the tourbillon is watchmaking’s most useless – if awesome – complication. A watch mounted thermometer runs a close second – unless you’re a hypothermia-averse polar explorer or ice fisher. Props to BALL for being new watch alert enough to know that making a better watch isn’t the key to competing against Rolex, OMEGA, et al. It’s making something different. And here it is. “Distinctive enough” to forgive the BALL Roadmaster TNT Ceramic’s “unique” date window position? . . .

Not for symmetry-seeking minimalist me. But the BALL’s rugged reliability is the bomb. The Roadmaster TMT Ceramic bezel can take a beating (impervious to ultra-violet rays!) and how can you not love a watchmaker that boasts “Our specially blended Swiss oils ensure that our mechanical calibers can safely and precisely operate in temperatures from -45°C to 80°C (-49 to 176°F).” It’s available in both behemoth (43mm) and large (40mm) sizes, Fahrenheit or Celsius. For temp freaks, the heat is on.

Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium – $3500

Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium - new watch alert

Bereft of new watch alert ideas, Longines has been going back for the future to flog their mid-market marvels. Their latest command performance: a refreshed re-release of an original watch they never released, this time with a 41mm grade 5 titanium case and a gradient blue dial. In case you missed it, back in the day, some bright spark at Longines decided the combination of “aviation” and “navigation” would catch on. Back before anyone thought a blue dial was the bomb. What’s not immediately clear . . .

Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium close up

What indices-eating subdial does what. The oversized 30 minutes counter lives at 3 o’clock, the 12 hour counter runs at the 6 o’clock and the stopwatch second hand spins at the 9 o’clock. Why it’s arranged thus is anyone’s guess, but the layout may account for the fact that Longines never put this design into production (until it did). The glove-friendly pushers are connected to Longines Calibre L688, a column wheel-modified Valjoux movement with a 54-hour power reserve. Another “unique” piece for your dining and dancing pleasure.

Bulova Devil Diver – $750

Bulova Devil Diver - new watch alert

The new watch alert know that Bulova is Having a Moment. The Devil Diver – named for its 666 feet (203 meters) water resistance – is sure to move the ball forwards. For one thing it’s orange – not the color of the year but definitely the color of Doxa’s most coveted timepiece. For another, it’s got a cushion case box crystal vintage vibe like, well, you know (even though the 41mm Devil Diver’s a retread of the significantly smaller 60’s Bulova design). And unlike the $1800 previous metal braceleted version it’s priced to go.

Bulova Devil Diver side

On the downside, it’s powered by a Miyota Caliber 821D (reinforced version of the 821A), a reliable enough engine that delivers a less-than-stellar -20 /+40 seconds accuracy per day. The rubber strap looks almost as comfortable as the Seiko Orange Diver’s horological hair shirt (jury’s out). Still, the Devil Diver’s a sensible watch at a sensible price, unlike their $3450 Spaceview actual Accutron redo. “Proper” retro for the win! Proof the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

9 COMMENTS

  1. “Props to BALL for being new watch alert enough to realize that making a better watch isn’t the key to competing against Rolex, OMEGA, et al. It’s making something different. And here it is.”

    That’s not to mention AVAILABLE and comparatively affordable. 🙂

    The date window placement is a rather odd choice. I was just getting used to that 4:30 date window location that became popular.

    As for the thermometer… I have to assume it is influenced largely by body temperature just as the thermometers on some of my G-Shocks. As such, it is utterly inaccurate while being worn on your wrist. Off the wrist? Good to go.

  2. “The oversized 30 minutes counter lives at 3 o’clock, the 12 hour counter runs at the 6 o’clock and the stopwatch second hand spins at the 9 o’clock.”

    Indulge the noob here… WTF is a “30 minutes counter?” Furthermore it has no labels at all. I’m trying to figure out what it does. I know what an hour counter does. I know what a second hand does. But, what is a 30-minutes counter? What am I looking at here?

    I’m sure I’ll smack myself in the forehead once someone points out the obvious. Maybe my brain isn’t working this early?

    • If you look at the hours sub-register at “6:00” it has hashes at the hour and half hour. The minutes counter at “3:00” tells the wearer exactly how many minutes they are at between those half hour hashes (a sixty minute sub-register gets pretty busy). The running seconds (seconds for the regular watch part of the chronograph) are at “9:00” and the chronograph seconds are the center seconds. To tell the elapsed time it is basically look at the hours register, look at the minutes register, and then look at the center seconds.

      This, to me, is why a traveler GMT is a more practical complication for most people than a chronograph, although chronographs can look cool.

      • Ah, I see. But, yeah… not intuitive. I see it, but you have to count by threes. That’s just stupid (IMO). I’m sure you’d get “used to it” eventually. But, naaaaaaa… I still think it’s stupid.

        • If the dial were marked, it might be more processable. I’m not wired to readily count by 3’s arranged with 36 degree spacings either. It can be done, but it is an alien system.

  3. Over ~$1,000 is too much for a dive watch, at least one that does not say Rolex, Omega, or (specific to dive watches) Blancpain. There are great alternatives to the busy, gimmicky Ball with the Tissot Seastar Silicium (silicon balance spring), Doxa Sub 200, Zodiac Sea Wolf, and various Squale and Ollech & Wajs dive watches (all Swiss Made with strong histories making dive watches – Zodiac was making dive watches before Rolex). The Bulova Devil Diver is interesting at the grey prices, especially given the sapphire box crystal.

    I hate to see Longines creep up in price, but I believe that the titanium BigEye is the cheapest chronograph by far to have both a column wheel and silicon balance spring. Hopefully the steel BigEye will get the silicon balance spring upgrade also.

  4. I have to hand it to Ball. The date in a circle after their name is crammed in their such that I didn’t notice the shortened 1 o’ clock index till I saw the radioactive glow shot. I do wonder if the Swiss oils are nautural or synthetic.

    Avigation is actually a dictionary word, not some new portmanteau! Concur with texastimex, whenever a central second hand is shown at 12 o’clock, chances are it is parked there when not chronographing. I suspect that is why the seconds sub-dial gets a different style hand than the others too, for differentiation.

    I have a weakness for the C-case shape, and good on Bulova for fitting a tiny lume pip by the date window. I’m a sucker for these parquet textures in silicone even if I think faux (or even worse, real) stitching is silly.

    • I do wonder if the Swiss oils are nautural or synthetic.

      Naaa… “Ancient Chinese secret.” (reference to an old TV ad)

  5. Seems that Ball could have placed the date window at 6 but would have to remove “freeze” and “heat” which could risk throwing off the thermally challenged.

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