When we started New Labels Only, there were brands which we hoped one day we will be working with. We have worked with some of them already and today is another brand on that list Ballast 1903. We have finally got our hands on one of their watches and we will be reviewing the Ballast 1903 Trafalgar.
As is it tradition with any new brands, we always like to know about the background and where the idea of the brand came from.
Ballast 1903 watches is an homage Naval submarines, submariners and to all the sailors who spends months in the deep dark depth of the ocean. The impacts of submarines during times of war and of peace absolutely ingrained in history permanently.
Ballast 1903 watches are a perfect representation of submarines, bold, large iron beast, built to withstand any impact and powerful in every way.
There are two models in the Ballast 1903 collection: the Trafalgar and Valiant model. The model we will be reviewing is the Ballast 1903 Trafalgar BL-3134-03.
Material : 316L Stainless Steel
Diameter (mm) : 47
Thickness (mm) : 14.5
Case back : Exhibition
Indexes: Applied Indexes with Swiss Super- LumiNova
Dial: Black Dial, Skeleton
Type : Miyota 8215. 21 Jewels
Origin : Japan
Material : Dark Brown with Black Edge Genuine Leather Strap
Buckle : Strap Buckle
Width (mm) : 22
Water Resistance : 10ATM
Bezel: Patented Bezel Control Engineering
This watch is huge! We have reviewed large watches before but this has to be the biggest by far. The watch stands out straight away and there is not chance you will be confusing the Ballast 1903 Trafalgar with any other watches. The one features which will definitely interest you straight away is the ‘crown’. It is not your conventional crown. It is unique and new for sure.
Setting the time
We did not know what to call it, so we called it ‘Setting the time’.
Setting the time on the watch will need getting used to. It is a bit tricky at first but after a couple of try you’ll be fine.
First you will need to open the Canteen lock, press the setter button and this will unlock bezel. With the bezel unlocked, you will then need to rotate it to adjust the time. After that is done, press the setter lock and that will lock in the bezel.
It is a weird way to set the time but it is quite fascinating on how it works. It must have taken a lot of investment and time to perfect this type of time setting.
As it is an automatic watch, how do you wind up the watch? Well, when the bezel is locked, rotating the bezel will actually wind up the movement. Again, this is a fascinating on how the bezel control both setting the time and also winding the movement.
When it comes to winding the movement, it is a but hard when the watch is on the wrist. It is better if you remove the watch and then turn the bezel. You will also get a lot of thumb print on the dial when you rotate the bezel and it will need to be continuously wiped.
The diameter of the watch is 47mm and the width is 14.5mm. This is certainly the biggest watch we have ever reviewed and it will take a lot of space on your wrist. The watch however feels comfortable on the wrist despite it’s size.
The curved lugs helps to push the watch down the wrist and it is noticeable. The watch does stick out from the wrist but it does not get much in the watch of the wrist. Similarly, the ‘crown’, which does stick out considerably, feels very comfortable and does not poke the wrist.
The lens is made from Sapphire mineral glass and it is slightly domed. It is a bit hard to notice the domed but it is there. Visibility from the watch is great and glare is at its minimal.
An interesting feature on the watch is the tag on the left hand side of the watch. On a gold plate, the word ‘Trafalgar, We Come Unseen’ is written. This is the motto used by the Royal Navy Submarine Service and is another reminder to of the story us about the story of the watch.
The Skeleton heart of the watch is the stand out feature from the dial. This is the only feature that adds to the most to the dial to an otherwise an average looking dial. You also have the Ballast logo on the left hand side on the dial. The logo is noticeable but not bold. We would have loved the logo to be a big more bigger. The hands of the watch will cover the logo easily.
On top of the index, you have a teeth cut design going on around the index, it is very much visible and goes well with the design of the watch. It adds a bit more ruggedness to the watch. The index itself has small rectangular bars to represent the numerals. However, at each odd numeral, the rectangular bar is replaced with a screw. It does add to the tough image the watch is design to project and does make it look a bit bolder. You also have an inner index around the Skeleton heart. There you have 12 little screws around it.
The design of the hands is mixed. The hour and minute hands have a semi circle curve tip but the second hand has a Breguet design. We are a bit conflicted on the design selection. The hour and minute hand for us look a bit soft however it due to the size of the casing, it suits the watch. The second hand with its red tip does suit the watch.
Both the hands and the rectangular index have been given a lumed finish. It is not the greatest but has good enough visibility at night.
The strap is made from genuine leather and is quite thick. The strap is comfortable and does wrap around the wrist well. Small sized wrist will have no problem with the strap. There are more than enough holes. The strap does not need to be broken into and it is already soft.
One feature we found very pleasing with the strap is the buckle. Rather than using your traditional buckle, on the Ballast 1903 Trafalgar you have a submarine. Very cool feature.
The movement inside the watch is a Miyota 8215 with 21 jewels. We have come across this movement multiple times before.
The power reserve is around 40 hours and the time accuracy is -20 ~ +40 seconds per day. To get the full power reserve, you will need to rotate the bezel around 40 times. The movement is reliable but we expected a more stronger and solid movement, especially for the price the watch is worth.
Buy, Shortlist or Avoid?
Let’s talk about the price first. The RRP of the watch is $520/ £420/ €470. It is price is definitely quite high and there are more established brands with watches at lower prices. However they are not a Ballast 1903 watch. The design of the watch does not need any more comment and the watch is bold. People will know you are wearing a Ballast 1903 watch and the ‘crown’ is simply unique.
We would shortlist this watch. If you have the money to spend, then for sure go for it.
We also have a discount code you may use for 15% off any Ballast 1903 watch. Do use NEWLABELS10 at checkout.