The face-lifted version of the Ball Watches Fireman Storm Chaser Pro (ref. CM3090C-L1J-BK) wrist watch, which is set to be released soon at the upcoming Baselworld 2014 event, is equipped with a finely executed telemeter scale and packs within its medium-sized 42 mm stainless steel body the same tried and tested automatic chronograph movement, but now looks a lot more elegant than the previous iteration of the timepiece. It’s almost like if Porsche has released its current-gen Cayenne performance SUV with its gorgeous exterior and plush interior without sacrificing all the off-road goodness of the first-gen model.
Compared to the 2011 Ball Watch Storm Chaser DLC Glow (ref. CM2192CP2BK), the new watch features a lot cleaner dial with a lot smaller (and also thinner) applique hour markers that are now crafted from some polished metal and house the brand’s signature micro-tube filled with high-glow H3 tritium gas. Mildly (and absolutely harmlessly) radioactive, the gas doesn’t need to be “recharged” under a source of external light and will glow brightly for literally dozens of years.
The thick (too thick to my taste) minutes/seconds markers were, too, replaced with 48 hair-thin dashes adding to the dial’s pristine appearance.
Looking at the device, I especially like the contrast color scheme that the brand has decided to use for this model. While the chronograph totalizers dominate the view, the small seconds display at 9 hours is almost blended into the layout: a very nice way of making the dial look less cluttered.
What else? Well, the hands seem to have preserved their basic shape, but now look a lot more elegant thanks to their open-worked design and significantly shorter luminous elements in them. The central chronograph seconds hand still keeps that BW insignia on its other tip that acts as a counterweight (a very nice touch, by the way), but is now colored black, too, blending quite nicely into the dial with only its bright orange tip standing out. Please note that the orange color accent on the indicator is also elegantly supported by 15, 30, 45 and 60 numerals on the seconds scale, four markers on the chronograph totalizers and a touch of orange on the chronograph “Start” push-piece.
While there are lots of luminous elements on the dial proper, they seem to have missed to add some lume on the black aluminum bezel, which is marked with a nicely designed telemeter scale. Since the watch is marketed as a choice of a stormchaser (and it is usually pretty dark during a storm) and is designed to allow you to measure distance between you and that especially fat and bright bolt of lightning, it would be logical to allow you to actually see the numbers on the indicator after you were temporarily blinded by the electric explosion.
Although watches made by the formerly American brand quite often disappoint with their rustic, inconsistent design, this particular specimen makes a very good, strong impression. The fact that it is powered by a movement, which is basically a redecorated version of the good old ETA Valjoux 7750 chronograph caliber only makes this impression stronger, while adding extra value to the gadget: there is nothing better for a medium-priced watch than an accurate, bullet-proof mechanism that animates it.
Photos: Ball Watches
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3/5
Ball Watches Fireman Storm Chaser Pro (ref. CM3090C-L1J-BK) automatic watch specification
Price: Approx. $4000 USD
Movement: Automatic, Ball RR1402 (based on ETA Valjoux 7750), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, telemeter scale on the bezel
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Aluminum, black anodized
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Dial: Black (Ref. CM3090C-L1J-BK, pictured) / Grey / White
Hour markers: 12 H3 tritium micro-tubes
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with orange stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, convex
Case back: Sapphire