The Ball Engineer II Magneto S Automatic (ref. NM3022C-N1CJ-BK) is a fascinating timekeeper. It features an interesting combination of sporty -albeit a bit deceptive- exterior with a reliable -even if a bit too standard- mechanism. It is the way the shielding system works that makes this new gadget stand out from the ranks of other magnetically shielded wristwatches.
Major watchmaking brands invest serious cash trying to make their mechanical watches less sensitive to magnetic fields. Rolex, for example, uses unique nickel-phosphorus escapements combined with expensive Parachrom hairsprings to make their “Superlative Chronometers.”
Ball Watches can’t make such expensive mechanisms: their profit margins are just not as fat. Instead, they use a trick that allows to magnetically shield a timekeeper without making it too expensive. It also makes a watch look great.
Their A-PROOF anti-magnetic system is rated up to 80,000 A/m of anti-magnetic protection and comprises two sub-systems.
First, is a soft iron “cage” that shields the mechanism from magnetic fields. The MuMETAL cage is crafted from an alloy that is usually 77% nickel, 16% iron, 5% copper, and 2% chromium or molybdenum.
Such cages normally require cases with solid back covers. The second sub-system solves this problem. Ball Watches engineers developed an iris diaphragm that allows you to take a peek at the mechanism simply by turning a notched bezel. As long as you don’t try to get your daily fix at a powerplant, the solution is safe and fun.
Alas, this particular caliber’s finish is basic at best for a watch that costs around €3000. Open the diaphragm and all that you’ll see is an oscillating weight featuring the usual Geneva stripes and gold inscriptions.
The caliber, by the way, is the same COSC-certified BALL RR1103-CSL automatic movement. We have seen it last year in their 2014 Engineer II Pioneer Chronometer.
The mechanism is based on the well-known caliber ETA 2824-2, but features a number of enhancements, besides a refinished rotor. The original Incabloc anti-shock system is replaced with a patented SpringLOCK module. The module uses another “cage” to protect the balance wheel spiral and to reduce its shock impact by 66%.
Compared to the aforementioned Pioneer, this new Magneto S looks a lot sportier. It is also a bit more legible.
There are only three micro-tubes filled with tritium: mildly radioactive, self-illuminating gas. Other elements, including the markings on the chapter ring and numerals on the rotating bezel, are filled with the omnipresent Superluminova.
All elements are easily readable at night. The baton-shaped hour marker at 12 hours even features a drop of a chemical luminous compound of a different shade of green for even better legibility.
Although the watch features styling that hints at some serious water resistance capacity, this is not a diver: it is rated for just 100 meters. The device will allow you to swim in a pool or do some light snorkeling. Try to use it for real diving and you will know what instant regret is.
At 42 millimeters in diameter, the wristwatch is similar in dimensions to the 2014 Engineer Hydrocarbon Hunley. Yet, with its subtler styling and better proportions, it doesn’t look as massive. It is one of those rare “tool” watches for a white-collar worker.
Photos: Ball Watches
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Ball Engineer II Magneto S (Ref. NM3022C-N1CJ-BK) specification
Price: $3400 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber BALL RR1103-CSL (base ETA 2824-2), COSC-certified chronometer, A-PROOF anti-magnetic system up to 80,000 A/m, SpringLOCK anti-shock system, shock-resistance up to 5,000 G, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Movement decoration: Oscillating weight adorned with “Cotes de Geneve” pattern, covered with antimagnetic A-PROOF diaphragm
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous (green Superluminova)
Hands: Luminous (tritium tubes)
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black cordura fiber with buckle