Ball Watches Review – Railroad Precision

Ball Watches Review


ball watches reviewIt seems like I’ve been reviewing a lot of watches lately that have been inspired by aviation.  Aviation certainly requires precise timekeeping, but before aviation, there were railroads, and railroads were what made timekeeping absolutely necessary.

Prior to that, every town just kept their own time.  When trains came along, it became necessary for everyone to agree on the time.  Ball watches got their start in 1891, and the company is named for the man who was first responsible for ensuring that the trains ran smoothly via an agreed-upon time system.

The company was founded in America, but it’s now based in Switzerland and owned by a firm in Hong Kong.  They also make a high-quality timepiece that’s got tremendous build quality and a lot of technical innovation.  If you’re one of those watch collectors who loves innovation on the inside of the watch, you’ll love this brand.

Read on for the full Ball watches review.

Build Quality
Styling and Features
Care and Maintenance
Where to Buy

Ball Watches Build Quality

The build quality is quite good.  Most of their models feature stainless steel cases and rock-hard sapphire crystal, which is exceptionally resistant to scratching, to protect the watch face.  Cases are made from stainless steel and titanium.

Water resistance ranges up to 3000 meters for some models, making them suitable for use in the water, rather than what most watches offer, which is the ability to get them slightly wet.


The movements are Swiss made automatic mechanical movements, with most offering 20+ jewels and power reserves of up to 42 hours.  Most of these movements are sourced from outside manufacturers, though several feature in-house modifications.

Click here to shop for Ball watches at Amazon (new window)


If you’re a fan of innovation in a watch, you’ll love Ball watches.  Few watch companies do much in the way of innovation anymore; most just make variations of the same watches that everyone else makes.

That’s not the case with Ball watches; they offer some features that you won’t see in other watches, and they’re useful, too.

Their “glass tubes” system of illuminating the watch dial uses tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that offers exceptionally bright illumination for the dial and will allow you to easily read in the dark. These tubes will work for at least 25 years from the day of purchase.

Models with bracelets feature a unique buckle system that’s easy to use with one hand, yet rugged enough to keep the watch closed while under stress.

Most models feature a patented crown protection system to ensure that the watch works well while retaining water resistance at depths that most manufacturers would regard as extreme.

Ball watches are also renowned for their shock resistance, and that’s quite important if you have a watch with a mechanical movement.  Ball’s Amortiser system features an anti-magnetic ring around the movement that helps absorb the shock.

This antimagnetic system also protects the movement from magnetic fields, which can damage the movement and prevent it from working correctly.

Another interesting feature in some models is that the movement is oil-filled, which allows the watch to work well under a greater than average temperature range.

One of the company’s models, the Trainmaster TMT Celsius, actually includes a thermometer on the face of the watch that will display temperatures from -35° to 45° Celsius.

ball watches engineer trainmasterStyling and Features

As the company started with the railroad, it wouldn’t surprise you to see that many of their models are still inspired by trains.  Their collections include the Engineer, the Engineer Master, the Engineer Hydrocarbon, the Trainmaster, teh Conductor and the Railroad watch.

Features vary according to the collection, but these watches feature such complications as date, day/date, chronograph, temperature, and the aforementioned thermometer.

Colors aren’t too diverse; you’re mostly going to see silver colored stainless steel cases with black or white faces.  The company does make a number of limited edition watches, however, and some of these feature gold or rose gold cases.

As far as we know, these are all men’s watches; that is, there are no models specifically made for women.  Case sizes run in the 40-45mm range, so they’d likely be a bit large for most women, anyway.

Care and Maintenance

As with any watch with a mechanical movement, you will likely need to have your watch serviced every few years to ensure that the movement continues to work correctly.  This will involve opening the case and cleaning the parts inside, along with replacement of any worn or damaged parts.

We didn’t see a recommended service schedule on the company Website, so we’d recommend that you inquire about this at the time of purchase.

Aside from this consideration, you should store Ball watches away from extremes of temperature and store them in a cool, dry place.

With proper care, your watch should run well for decades to come.

Ball Watches Warranty

These watches are warranted against defects in materials and craftsmanship for two years from the date of purchase.  This is the industry standard warranty and is of the same duration as about 90% of all watches sold today.  As Ball watches are tested thoroughly prior to shipping, defects are likely quite rare.

ball watches trainmaster


These watches are not inexpensive, but are far less expensive than watches from other companies with similar levels of innovation.

We’ve seen some models for sale for as little as $600 or so, while some limited edition models with gold cases may sell for as much as $15,000 or so.  Most models seem to be priced in the $1000-$3000 range.

Where to Buy

You can find them for sale at a number of retailers, both online and off.  In brick and mortar stores, you’ll be most likely to find them for sale at fine watch shops.

Many online retailers that specialize in high quality timepieces offer the brand for sale, including Amazon.  Buying online may offer your best opportunity to find discount Ball watches and may also give you the best selection from which to choose.

Ball Watches Summary

If you like well-built, attractive wristwatches with a lot of complications and under-the-hood innovation, you’ll like Ball watches.

They’re solidly built, with high-quality mechanical Swiss movements and sapphire crystal.  They offer innovative features such as gas-tube illumination, helium valves for extreme water resistance, oil-filled cases for use in extremes of temperature and exceptional shock resistance.

They also offer a variety of limited edition timepieces for those who need a bit of exclusivity.

If you want an interesting watch that will run for decades that will be distinctly different from what everyone else is wearing, you should give Ball watches a look.

Click here to shop for Ball watches at Amazon (new window)