The basic design, function and aesthetics of the mechanical chronograph have remained largely unchanged since Breitling patented the independent-reset push piece in 1934. Starting, stopping and resetting has been done with those distinctive buttons on the side of the case ever since. Sure, there have been the odd variations, like Jaeger-LeCoultre’s AMVOX chronograph, which controlled functions with a press of the crystal. And some brands have gone retro with integrated crown-mounted monopushers. But by and large, the archetype of the chrono has been two stalks straddling the crown. Now Ball Watch Company has introduced its Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph ($3,700), which, at first blush, is a game changer.
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The Slide, as its name suggests, dispenses with the push pieces in favor of a spring-loaded sliding lever on the left side of the case to control all chronograph functions. Any ergonomic advantage is debatable since pushing buttons was never much of a hardship, but the new design does give the watch a more streamlined look and less snagging on your shirt cuff. Its movement is based on the venerable ETA (Valjoux) 7750, but took considerable modification to mate the slide to the chronograph linkage via a circular bar around the perimeter of the movement inside the case.
Ball is no stranger to functional innovation. This watch’s strange name comes from Ball’s roots, building rugged and accurate pocket watches for the American railroad in the early 20th century. Its watches are known for their anti-magnetic and anti-shock properties as well as all-night illumination thanks to encapsulated tritium (H3 for you chemistry types) tubes on their dials and hands. The Engineer Master II Slide Chronograph has been tested to withstand 5,000 Gs of shock, considerable levels of magnetic influence and, even with the new slider mechanism, 50 meters of water pressure — all the while maintaining the look of a classic chronograph with traditional totalizer sub dials, albeit without push pieces. We break the watch down for you above.