By: Jeffrey P. Hess
Rarely do I get a chance to provide such a quick follow-up to a story about a watch company. But the reaction from many of you (the phone calls, emails and letters) about our story on the resurgence of the BALL WATCH COMPANY two issues ago (Volume 7, Issue 6, Nov./Dec. 2004) has been so great that a follow-up became necessary.
Most readers asked about the company's historical aspect or the American connection, which remains strong. Today, each watch sold in the USA is rigorously inspected by American watchmakers before being sent to dealers.
It is interesting to note that Webb C. Ball never manufactured original watches from scratch himself, but rather, used movements supplied by others, improving them enough to be deemed "Official Standard." In the early days, Howard, Waltham, Hamilton, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin movements were used and in later days, ETA movements were employed. Ball continues that tradition. The fine Ball watches made today are all Swiss made and use mainly ETA base calibers, many with COSC certificates and all with terrific timekeeping capabilities.
Another popular question was weather Ball makes ladies' watches, karat gold watches or pocket watches. The answer to the ladies' watch question is "yes." The answer is "not yet" regarding karat gold and pocket watches. The company is pretty tight lipped about new products, but is certainly innovative enough to pull something like this off. So do not be surprised if these are in the works. We suspect they may be coming sooner than you think!!
But most of the questions regarding what is often considered the Ball Watch Company's signature watch, the "Engineer Hydrocarbon GMT." Pictured here is an example of this watch that seems to have taken the world by surprise. The innovations, both bells AND whistles, are many. The double-locking screw-down crown, Lumanova bezel, gas tube dial numerals (many swear this is the most readable dial in the watch business), and a GMT hand (really an independently set hour hand that could serve as a second time zone!), along with anti-magnetism and a 300-meter water resistance make us understand why this watch, at under two grand, is one of the company's best sellers. (And most people overlook the added value of the shock resistance of this watch, which has been rated at 7,500 g's!)
But the single most prevalent question asked was how to contact an authorized dealer. It seems that the press has taken a real and genuine (if premature) liking to this line (if I may say so myself) and the result has been a small overworked and "under-watched" dealer network that struggles to keep up with high demand.
Ball Watch Company USA (which has only had watches in the United States for about 80 days) promises to quadruple within the next 90 days its fledgling network of fine stores and has made sure that all of the existing stores have an ample supply of all Ball watches, even the Engineer Hydrocarbon GMT. (Most dealers had been sold out of both the GMT and the non-GMT versions from the start, but have since reordered.)
Some of the present stores include Paul Dodds Jewelers in Kansas City (Lee's Summit location); Feldmar in Los Angeles; Henry B. Ball Jewelers in Akron/Canton, Ohio; Kenjo in New York City; Vierks Fine Jewelry in Lafayette, Indiana; Hess Fine Art in St. Petersburg, Florida; Perry's in South Park in North Carolina; Box and Box in Huston, Texas; Jordan Ellisons in Columbus, Indiana; and Ridglea Watch and Jewelry in Fort Worth, Texas. More stores are being added every day.
So take a peek at the two watches pictured, the aforementioned Engineer Hydrocarbon GMT (a watch that has been dubbed on the net as the "Ultimate Divers Watch") and the Limited Edition Ball "333 Up and Down Indicator" (limited to 333 pieces worldwide). Both watches are winners (as is the surprisingly clean-lined, crocodile-strapped COSC time only "Engineer Chronometer" model (NM1020C-SC-BK). We understand that Ball Watch will be shaking up the watch world again at Basel this year with three of four new models that will once more highlight its design team's "out of the box" thinking. We can't wait! And of course, we will keep you posted.
For more information, visit the official website of Ball Watch Company www.ballwatch.com or the American distributor site www.ballwatchusa.com.
To locate a dealer near you, obtain more information or request an appointment at the Basel fair, you can call Ball Watch USA at 727-896-4BRT or 727-896-0622, ext. 209.