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Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier Watch Review

Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier

Despite often emphasising the kind of over-the-top, rugged watches built to survive a rockslide and a name that can evoke sniggers from more immature collectors (and myself, when we have more than one in the office), Ball is low-key one of the best watchmakers in their price segment. We’re talking watches with COSC-certified spec sheets to rival the big boys at half the price. Sometimes less. Well, if there’s one watch that’s going to make as many collectors sit up and take notice as they should, it’s the Engineer III Outlier.

The Outlier is downright cool, which is not something that I could apply to Ball a few years back. And yet as the recent Marvelight answer to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual shows, they’ve begun showing what they can do in very direct ways – and it’s working. The Outlier therefore is their answer to the blurred line between the Rolex GMT Master II and Explorer II.

Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier
Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier

Before I quit making Rolex comparisons and get onto the watch on its own merits – I’m getting there, honestly – the Outlier is basically what happens when you combine the engraved, steel bezel and utilitarian tool watch vibes of the Explorer II with the rotation and capabilities of a classic GMT Master II, with a couple of cool twists that are distinctly Ball.

One of those twists – and probably the single element Ball are most closely associated with – are the H3 gas tubes on the dial. These glass tubes of (slightly) radioactive material are rare, used by Ball, Luminox, Pro-Tek and… not many others. They’re harder to use than just slopping lume everywhere, but glow extraordinarily without need for charging in the light. And as the glass can be tinted, you can easily make them glow in practically any colour – which Ball have done plenty of times now with rainbow indexes.

Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier
Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier

Here though, they’ve kept to the militaristic feel of an Explorer with the usual ghostly green on black, with a couple of orange highlights. It works for the elongated indexes too and set into the hour and minute hand. It’s not that you can read it in the dark; you can’t ignore it. The GMT hand has a tiny tube on the tip, but otherwise looks like its floating across the dial with a black stem that blends into the dial.

There are other versions of the Outlier, including a white dialled version that leans even more on those Explorer II vibes. This is one of the few times I actually prefer the black; there’s enough going on with the indexes, GMT hand, and somewhat crowded logo that it feels anything but boring.

Back to the bezel, it’s one of the coolest GMTs I’ve come across. Maybe I’m just well over blue and red, but it’s subtle in that it doesn’t have two coloured halves but instead colours the engraved numerals, day hours in white, night hours in black, with an orange and black 12 o’clock marker. I love this. It’s the only way I can imagine maintaining the steel-on-steel look, but still allowing you to know what time of day you’re working with, and I much prefer it to the ceramic option, which is both more expensive and less interesting.

Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier
Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier

On the wrist, the 40mm Outlier (I’m going to keep dropping the Engineer III for ease) is superbly solid. Everything from the bracelet to the tactile thunk of the bezel, which has 24 clicks to match the hours, is great. I found it a little hard to use the crown with the crown guards either side and the bezel on top, but that’s it. And, as the Outlier has become my new daily wearer in my brief time with it, I imagine keeping the movement wound wouldn’t be an issue.

Speaking of, the movement here is the calibre RRM7337-C, an in-house (or more accurately, manufacture) movement that has a lot going for it. It has a 42-hour power reserve, not too bad, and more impressively some serious protection from shocks and elements. Along with the gas tubes, Ball’s 1,000 gauss magnetic resistance and 5,000gs of shock resistance are more than enough to keep is safe from anything short of crash-landing into the Large Hadron Collider. Its 200m water resistance can get lost among all of that.

Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier

For those of you wondering, the RRM7337-C (catchy names are not a Ball signature) is a true GMT, with a quick-set local hour function rather than GMT hand. This makes it better for genuine jet-setters, rather than those of us that like to show off the time in Uzbekistan. It’s a bit more prestigious and another feather in the watchmaker’s increasingly heavy horological hat.

So, you have serious build quality, a great manufacture movement and some unique twists to established GMT formulae. The bottom line however is price, which in this case is £2,860. That’s at the top end for Ball, who start at about £1,500. But given what you’re getting, I’d argue it’s worth every penny – and if this doesn’t make you sit up and take notice of Ball, nothing will.

Price and Specs:

Model: Ball Watches Engineer III Outlier
Ref: DG9000B-S1C-BK
Case: 40mm diameter x 13.8mm thickness, stainless steel
Dial: Black
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Ball calibre RRM7337-C, automatic, COSC-certified
Power reserve: 42h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £2,860

More details at Ball.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.