Cleveland-born and now Swiss-headquartered watch company, Ball Watches, makes timepieces that are as tough as nails. Their tagline is “Since 1891, accuracy under adverse conditions,” and every watch the brand manufactures embodies this spirit. For their latest incarnation of the Storm Chaser line, Ball partnered with Dr. Joshua Wurman of Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers fame to develop an instrument fit for such a distinguished meteorologist. We’re not thrill-seekers by any means, but inside the handsome package there seems to be some pretty useful stuff if you find yourself tracking down tornadoes.
What utility does a mechanical chronograph offer to storm chasers? To start, the new Storm Chaser Pro is modernly sized with a brushed and polished steel case of 42mm, so it’s presence will aid in legibility. It’s thick at about 15.5mm. The chronograph pushers feature a splash of color, I suppose to aid in differentiating the start and stop/reset functions. The new Storm Chase Pro does away with the tachymeter scale entirely and instead an aluminum bezel features a telemeter scale measured in kilometers. A storm chaser such as Dr. Wurman would start the chronograph as soon as he saw a flash of lightning and then stop the chronograph once he heard the thunder. The second hand would then point to how far away the lightning is. A lot of us played this game as a child to determine if a storm was moving toward or away from us by counting the seconds between the flash and the resulting rumble. If, on subsequent lightning strikes, the time increased between the flash and the thunder, then the storm was traveling away; if the time decreased, the storm was approaching. Well, a telemeter is how the grownups do it.
The dial is legible and clean. Its splash of color on the boxy seconds hand tip matches the chronograph pusher and adds a professional tool aesthetic. However, the Pro is a much more appropriate watch for civilians than other versions of the Storm Chaser that featured a heavy texture on the dial. You’ll still get some interesting circular graining on the chronograph subdials at 12 and 6 o’clock, but for the most part you’re getting a matte black dial. The skeletonized hour and minute hands are decorated with tubes of H3 gas along with the seconds hand and hour markers. Unlike a SuperLumiNova or another luminous paint, H3 doesn’t require any charging, so it’s more effective in promoting visibility in low lighting conditions, like when the sky darkens during a storm.
The Storm Chaser Pro is powered by a Ball caliber RR1402, which is an ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement with a 42-hour power reserve. You can see the movement through the sapphire exhibition case back, and the watch is water resistant to 100m, which should be plenty even if caught in a torrential downpour. Should a gust of wind knock you to the ground, the good news is that the Storm Chaser Pro is seriously shock resistant and can withstand up to 5,000 Gs. The Pro comes in several dial variations, black, gray or white, and you can pick up the watch on either a stainless steel bracelet or a leather strap with orange stitching. It will retail for a very reasonable $3,000. ballwatch.com