Ballast Trafalgar Specifications:
46.5mm diameter x 14.5mm high (lug tips to crystal zenith)
22mm lug width
Hand-wound mechanical movement with 21,600 bph
Power reserve of over 50 hours when wound fully
Flat Mineral with hardness coating
150 grams (with strap)
10 ATM (100 meters)
Retail Price $499 USD
I am always extremely excited when I have the opportunity to review a new or redesigned watch model from a company. Ballast Watches focus on nautical themes specifically submarines. If a reader visits the watch company’s website one of the first aspects noticed will be a quote from the well known Winston Churchill referencing the extremely dangerous nature of being a submariner. The company has produced a “Swiss Made” watch model in the past and has ties to Great Britain, but their upcoming release, the new Trafalgar, consists of a Japanese movement and most likely other components sourced from Asia. The new Ballast Trafalgar is a stout watch with a domed sapphire crystal and a Miyota automatic movement with a retail price tag of $499 USD. Ballast models have been heavily discounted in the past through various on-line vendors so I’d expect to see prices well below the full retail price noted above. The new Trafalgar will be available in 3 different case finishes: black, rose/gold, and silver/stainless steel. Based on my last conversations with company representatives this watch model will be available for delivery sometime in June 2016.
Let me get something out of the way from jump-street. In order to really appreciate the new Trafalgar, an appreciation of canteen style crowns is a pre-requisite. So if you don’t like canteen style crowns or the “Russian Diver” kind of appearance the Trafalgar may not be the watch to purchase. So with that bit of information out of the way, I’ll lead off discussing the seemingly well made case. The entire case is coated very evenly with a black IP titanium carbide finish with various IP rose-tone accents. The angular lug design is probably the feature I like most about the case. The case measures a rather robust 46.5mm and an even more substantial 53mm including the canteen crown. The canteen crown is over-sized as one might expect and measures a whopping 9mm in diameter. Personally, I am not a canteen crown fan but I have to admit the location, at the 4 o’clock position, makes this watch much easier to wear than if it was located at the more traditional 3 o’clock position on the case. Countless times I have heard people complain about canteen crowns located at the 3 digging into the top of the wrist and hand making the watch extremely uncomfortable to wear. The original Trafalgar model consisted of a canteen crown located at the 3 o’clock position. Great move by them modifying the location.
The canteen crown is obviously screwed down and what is found underneath is not the typical push/pull inner crown. I will get into this intriguing little feature a bit later. The opposite side of the case is another love it or leave it feature with the model noted on a small IP titanium carbide coated plate screwed down with rose-tone coated screws. Is it over-branding/marketing? Some will probably think so and personally I’m not a huge fan either. The plate does allow further nautical reference with the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service motto noted below the model name.
The most intriguing aspect of the new Trafalgar has to be the patented bezel control system. This feature is used to wind the mainspring of the Miyota automatic movement, as well as, setting both the date and time. The design also plays toward the nautical theme where submarine clocks and other timing instruments had to be opened for adjustment. So, you might be wondering at this point, what’s under the canteen crown? Quite simply a push button, or what Ballast calls “setter button”, which allows for switching between time and date setting for the bezel control system. When the canteen crown is unscrewed, some may see what appears to be helium release valve at the 3 o’clock position on the case. While it may resemble an HEV it actually works in conjunction with the push button so the specific adjustment position can be identified exactly like the setting positions of a standard crown.
Protecting the dial is a double domed sapphire crystal *Edited in specifications with Mineral Crystal as per the Ballast Webstite *, with an interior anti-reflective coating. The crystal is a robust 39mm in diameter allowing for a great view of the dial. Obviously, a lot of surface area is available on the dial which actually can be an enticement to overload the print on the dial. Outside of the typical branding, marker and numeric layout, Ballast chose to place a large company logo at the 9 o’clock position on the dial which is going to either be a love or hate feature. Personally, I would have rather seen the standard “9” on the dial to go along with the 12 and 6. The dial does contain some lume on the hands and hour markers. The lume fades rather quickly so really not a whole lot to discuss or love about that particular aspect. The last part of the dial that I did want to point out was the stamped and polished inner ring inserted inside the case illustrating the technical degree of engineering shown in the lines and construction of submarines.
The new Trafalgar is fitted with a rear crystal display which shows off a modified Miyota 8215 automatic movement. The 8215 historically has been considered rather robust and reliable. While not as accurate as the newer Miyota automatic movements or Swiss Made automatics it tends to be somewhere around +/- 20 seconds a day based on my various experiences. As usual various specifications are etched into the perimeter. The 8215 is an ugly movement with no decorative properties so I would have much rather seen a solid case back with a detailed stamped design of a submarine since the model is nautical themed.
Finally, the new Trafalgar is finished off with a high quality leather strap. The strap is extremely supple and made from leathers tanned in Italy. The strap is 22mm at the lug and does not taper through to the tail. Even at a whopping 4mm in thickness, the strap is extremely comfortable on the wrist. The aspect I appreciate most about the strap is that it corresponds perfectly with the IP finishes of the case and bezel. Finishing of the outstanding strap is a heavy duty submarine pre-V style buckle. A substantial strap deserves a substantial buckle and Ballast gets a big A+ with this feature of the Trafalgar.
Overall, if watches with a canteen style crown are appealing to you, I believe the new Trafalgar will be quite satisfying in design, fit and feel. At the full retail price tag of $499, the new Trafalgar isn’t what I would consider budget driven, but I expect to see a much lower price with various on-line vendors once released. The original Trafalgar consisted of a quartz movement and a mineral crystal and sold for well under $300 USD. I could be way off base, but if the sale price falls in the area I am anticipating, the new Trafalgar, which has an automatic movement, sapphire crystal, patented bezel/movement control system and great strap with an outstanding buckle, will present a great overall value for consumers.
7 3/4 inch wrist for reference
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