Ball is a brand that has a rich history spanning 130 years since its founding in 1891. Ball are based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland but have roots in the USA having being founded in Ohio. Ball made a name for itself during the growth of railroads in the United States following a head-on collision between two trains in 1891. Founder Webb C. Ball set up tests and standards for all watches used on US trains to ensure timekeeping was accurate and to avoid future disasters. This became the railroad standard or “RR Standard” and to this very day features in Ball logo.

Ball is all about making watches with precision and technical innovation that reflects the nature of their intended use. There’s no mistaking that the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU is a tool watch that doesn’t pretend to be a pretty dress watch or a modern boardroom dive watch. This is the real deal.

NEDU refers to the Navy Experimental Dive Unit which is a unit of the US Navy that’s responsible for having developed the standards governing diving and decompression rules. Many modern dive watches are typically somewhere around 300m water-resistant, but the water resistance on the Ball NEDU is up to 600m/2000ft which is almost the length of 6 FIFA standard football fields. True to form, this diver’s watch doesn’t come with a clear case back but features a closed case back engraved with a diver logo and emphasising the chronometer certification.

The Ball NEDU is a larger than life 42mm titanium case with a steel and titanium bracelet. It also features Ball’s signature micro gas tubes for constant low-light illumination which far exceeds the performance of luminescent paint which is applied to most watches in the market. Being made from titanium, I thought the watch would be lighter, but in reality, it’s quite a hefty beast. It feels incredibly solid, but at 17.3mm thickness, its rather high profile means that it won’t fit under a shirt cuff.

The ceramic luminous unidirectional bezel features oversized numerals for legibility and has deep grooves cut into it. This unique look presumably makes it easier to turn the bezel even while wearing diving gloves. The case has two chamfers cut into the flange supporting the bezel which helps drain out any water that gets trapped. A built-in helium escape valve is integrated into the crown itself with Ball’s patented swivel crown protection system. The chronograph which has screw-down bolts on the pushers is also operable underwater with accumulated measurement of up to 12 hours.

The NEDU is powered by the Ball RR1402-C COSC certified automatic calibre which also provides day, date and chronograph functions. This is based on an ETA 7750 movement which is tried, tested and reliable. The watch also boasts 7,500Gs shock resistance and 4800A/m antimagnetic resistance. What this all means is that Ball has packed a lot into this watch.

The NEDU is a true diver’s watch. It’s not pretending to be a dress watch and it has unique elements which make it stand out from the crowd.

Things I loved about this watch:

  1. The multi-coloured gas lumens that keep the watch illuminated without a light source.
  2. That stunning blue dial.

The downsides:

  1. For a watch that is titanium, it’s not the lightest.
  2. It’s not a watch that would fit easily under a tight sleeve.

The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU Blue (DC3026A-06) retails for AUD$6,750 and that’s a lot of watch for not too much money. Well worth some consideration.

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