Ball Engineer II Green Berets
Titanium. Tritium.Titanium Carbide Coating. Field Watch. Honestly, when describing the Ball Engineer II Green Berets, I could probably end the review right there. This is not a new piece from Ball, but it is one I have been wanting to review for some time. Ball, as we know, uses tritium tubes almost exclusively in almost all their watches, and they have countless models, but something about this classic and simple looking field watch, machined out of titanium and DLC coated, just evokes everything I think about when picturing a military field watch and at 43mm, it is a perfect size for many. At $2200 ($2,199 officially), it also houses an ETA 2824 Movement that is COSC Certified. It is a lot of watch for the money in my opinion, but let’s go ahead and explore it further.
43mm Titanium Case
Black TiC (Titanium Carbide Coating)
Stainless Steel Case Back
21mm Lug Width
50mm Lug to Lug
82 Grams in Weight
Automatic caliber BALL RR1103-C
Chronometer certified COSC
Screw Down Crown
100m Water Resistant
Nubuck Leather Strap
I have talked about this in length with recent Ball reviews, but not everyone is a fan of tritium tubes, I myself being one of them, or more specifically, it really does depend on the watch. I think there are quite a few watches from Ball that I would prefer more if they used SuperLumiNova, but on this Ball Engineer II Green Berets, I think it works perfectly. These are T25 Tritium Tubes (more on that later), and the coloring is pretty standard, green markers everywhere except the hands and 12 o’clock indices, which are orange. This can also be had in the rainbow configuration if you want something a little more daring.
Just like all of you, when I see something online, I know that when I get it in hand or at least finally see it in video and real photography that there are going to be a few things that I do not love, at least usually. I think that is why reviews like these are so important and even though I have always been a fan of this watch from Ball, there are a few things I will point out before getting to the rest of the review. The hands are fully polished, which is an odd choice for a watch that is all blacked out and has a military theme to it. At the very least, I would have preferred brushed steel hands or brushed gunmetal.
The polished hands are something that is subjective though, but what isn’t is the color of the strap and the titanium buckle. In images you will see online on the Ball website and dealers, the strap is a dark brown color. Even in the picture, I posted of the Rainbow version above, the strap is a dark brown. The reality is the strap is NOWHERE near that color at all. It is more of a mustard tan and is distressed, and the more you wear it the darker it may appear over time, but it will never look like the stock images at all. I am not sure if at some point this watch did come with a darker strap and they never bothered to update the images, but I think it is very important to point out, especially if you are wondering why the strap looks so different in my review here.
And then we get to the buckle-and I am fully aware I am doing this review a little backward compared to normal, but as I said, I felt important to point these things out, because, on the Ball website, they do not show you the buckle at all, so you assume this is going to be coating black just like the entire case and crown. Your assumption would be wrong though. Here we have a stainless steel buckle, a great buckle in its own right with the roller style look, which not only looks attractive but buckles and lays on the wrist as it should, but why is it not black? On a $2,200 watch, I never expected this lack of attention to detail such as this. Also, not titanium, which is a head-scratcher.
Okay, but let’s turn this Ball Engineer II Green Berets back over and talk about the case and some of the things I truly love. The dial is matte (another reason the polished hands confuse me), clean and uncluttered, and really allows the glass-encased tritium tubes to show off, and even though this model has a date magnifier, something I usually detest, I do not hate it here for some reason. You won’t forget this model is a certified chronometer either, as Ball decided to print this on the dial, and do so in red text, a color I am not sure really goes with this dial (green or orange would have worked better), but it is not a deal-breaker, at least for me.
The titanium case allows the watch to be extremely lightweight, as I imagine if this 43mm watch was stainless steel, it would weigh almost double what it does now, which is 82 grams. Every time I put on a titanium watch I realize just how comfortable they are to wear. Some folks don’t like titanium as they feel it is too lightweight, but I think it is a nice change to have something on your wrist you almost do not know is there. Something not always seen on field watches with 100m of water resistance is a screw-down crown, and it really is a pet peeve of mine. I just generally prefer any of my watches to have a screw-down crown, regardless of the style. Fortunately, the Ball Engineer II Green Berets provides me with this insurance, and the crown is easy to grasp and manipulate to set the time and date, or wind if I choose to do so.
As many of you are probably aware by now if you are regular readers, I love a good solid case back. I know, I am in the minority, and I find myself typing that a lot. Most would rather see the movement on the back of the watch, I just never really cared. I rarely pull my watch off the wrist to look at the back of it, regardless of the movement, and as I have stated many times, most movements do not need to be seen. Highly decorated in-house movements with a lot of complications? Okay, that is a different animal then, but even COSC movements such as this Ball Caliber RR1103-C (ETA 2824, do not be fooled into thinking it is in-house), just don’t do it for me. But, take a look at the photo of the case back below. Can you honestly tell me you would rather have a sapphire window showing off a mundane movement than this great stamped artwork?
But there is something a little odd about the case back. Like the buckle, this case back is stainless steel, not titanium. Not only is stainless steel not nearly as hypoallergenic as titanium, something quite a few people with nickel allergies would be looking forward to with an all-titanium watch, but it is also adding weight. Again, the case back with the Special Forces badging looks great, but not sure why they chose steel over titanium.
So, yes the strap is exactly the rich brown they show on the website, but it is a great leather strap with a smooth feel, a soft black leather backing and just overall does compliment the watch well and will get darker and develop a “patina” over time. One thing of note though, and this seems to be something Ball does often, this is not a standard lug width at 21mm, so keep that in mind if you are someone who likes to change straps often.
On my 7.5 inch wrist, this watch not only looks great, but it also feels great. The combination of the lightweight titanium along with the very comfortable leather strap allows the watch to just feel like it almost isn’t there, but this is not a Swatch watch from the 80s either, there is still a little bit of heft, and I haven’t noticed the crown digging into the back of my hand, which is something I was initially worried about. Like most stock straps though, it is a little on the short side, and should just about fit an 8-inch wrist, but just barely. If you are looking for hard numbers, 120x80mm is the measurement.