The Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital II is the worthy successor to the limited series of 999 pieces launched in 2010 with great success. It is more evidence of the watch brand's strong attachment to space exploration, being the result of a long partnership between BALL Watch Company and the space pilot Brian Binnie. As pilot of Virgin Galactic's "SpaceShipOne", Brian Binnie was one of the first civil astronauts to enter space at an altitude of more than 62 miles / 100 kilometers on board a private spacecraft, paving thus the way for the development of space tourism.
BALL Watch Company has been inspired again by Brian Binnie's space adventure. When Brian Binnie first ignited “SpaceShipOne” rockets, it was as though a giant, powerful wave descended into the little cabin. It is extremely challenging for the pilot to maintain control of “SpaceShipOne” when entering space and returning to atmosphere. BALL Watch has extended its line of highly advanced automatic chronographs fitted with its unique anti-shock system. Designed and patented exclusively by BALL Watch engineers, the Amortiser® device protects the Swiss made automatic caliber BALL RR1404 against damages caused by external shocks. Any substantial shock can create sudden and violent oscillations of the rotor of an automatic watch that can seriously spoil the movement. They can even cause the watch mechanism to stop completely. The high inertia of the oscillating weight can also be annoying when playing certain sports, such as golf, that repeatedly subject the wrist to external shocks. To protect the heart of the watch, the Amortiser® system consists of a protective ring around the mechanical movement that absorbs the energy created by side shocks. This protective ring also has anti-magnetic properties to preserve the movement from magnetic fields that can affect the precision of a mechanical watch.
Another feature of the Amortiser® system on this model is a locking rotor mechanism. A switch in the form of an aircraft propeller is located on the case back, enabling the rotor to be locked and unlocked as desired. The switch is significantly larger on the Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital II than on the previous model in order to make it easier to use. During activities that may create external shocks, locking the rotor prevents the energy of frontal impacts from being transmitted to the movement. However, the watch continues to run when the rotor is immobilized by drawing on the power reserve of its caliber. When the risk of shocks has ended, unlocking the rotor brings the automatic winding system back into action. The Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital II fitted with the Amortiser® anti-shock system has been demonstrated to endure 5.2 meters free fall without any damage on the mechanical movement. The system also shows its value when worn by Brian Binnie during his space flights that rely on sophisticated instruments in an environment subject to numerous shocks.
The Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster Orbital II is an imposing watch – diameter 45mm, height 18.3mm – but its large dimensions are compensated by a perfectly balanced design. And the choice of titanium for the material of the case makes it surprisingly light and comfortable on the wrist. Titanium also provides exceptional robustness and corrosion-resistance while presenting a beautiful matte finish. The anti-reflective sapphire crystal incorporates a Cyclops magnifying lens positioned over the date window at 3 o'clock, making it easy to read. The chronograph function operates in addition to the GMT hand that can be set on another time zone in order to offer some useful watchmaking complications.
Like a compass, the bidirectional rotating bezel is marked with a scale in segments of 5 degrees. The four cardinal points of the compass are indicated by stamped markers that stand slightly above the bezel for easy manipulation. To use the compass, the watch is simply taken off the wrist and held so that the local time hour hand points at the sun. In the northern hemisphere, south can then be determined by turning the bezel to position the south marker on the dial milestone located exactly halfway between the hour hand and 12 o'clock. This ingenious process instantly indicates the other compass cardinal points on the bezel, transforming the watch into a true navigation instrument.
Using its famous luminescence technology, BALL Watch has designed Arabic numerals with micro tubes of 3H gas that make the dial much more readable. 3H gas naturally emits continuous light that enables the time to be read in total darkness. This state-of-the-art Swiss technology requires no external light or energy source and is up to 100 times more effective than conventional luminescent paints. The same micro tubes of luminescent gas are applied onto the hour markers as well as the hands. BALL Watch has even managed to incorporate cylindrical micro tubes directly into the push buttons of the chronograph. The night-reading properties of the watch are completed by a powerful luminescent paint applied on the bezel.
Other characteristic elements of the Engineer Hydrocarbon collection are the patented crown protection system, the tapered titanium and stainless steel bracelet and the patented triple folding buckle with extension system. Together they complete the features of this chronograph.