The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.

The Engineer Master II Pilot GMT



The Pilot GMT is a "Métrailler", as in a watch that's designed by Megan Metraillier, the former Jaeger Le-Coultre designer who created the 'Ball for BMW' watch collection. In interviews describing the creation of Ball for BMW, she described that collection as an attempt to intersect the worlds of Ball watches and BMW cars. By comparison, the Pilot GMT is less ambitious. Rather than creating an entire new collection, the Pilot GMT is a new model in an existing and popular part of the core Ball product line; the Engineer Master II series.

Since the Engineer Master II series now has a new model with a new designer, it's a great opportunity to think about the collection as a whole and to try and define it. The Engineer Master II series is the sport range of Ball watches and are lighter in scale than the Engineer Hydrocarbon collection of "tool" watches. While the Hydrocarbons are unified by their extreme shock resistance, incredibly distinctive crown protectors, and temperature resistant oil, the Engineer Master II collection is a little less rugged, and with a few exceptions are themed towards diving or aviation.

Since we became a Ball dealer in 2005, the most popular Engineer Master II watches have been the Engineer Master II Diver, Aviator series, and Skin Diver models. While the Pilot GMT has much in common with the other popular models in the series, its use of sunken tritium tubes, thinner case, and elaborate dial all provide features we haven't seen before in an Engineer Master II.

The biggest difference between this watch and other Ball watches is the way the tritium tubes of the dial are recessed. Instead of applying the tritium tubes on the dial, and putting the hands above the tubes, the tubes are recessed into the dial. The tops of the luminous tubes of the hour markers do not extend higher than the dial. This allows the lowest hand to be extremely close to the surface of the dial. This provides two effects. First, the lume almost reminds me of sandwich-type dials used by Panerai or the new Omega 300. The recessed tritium also makes the watch's thin case possible. Even though it has an external bezel, the watch registers at 11.9mm. Not only is the watch dramatically thinner than the other external bezeled watch in the series, (the 14.3mm Skin Diver), it's also thinner than the watches in the series that do not have an external bezel, such as the Aviator, (13.3mm), Diver, (13.3mm) and DLC (13mm). Also contributing to the thin case is the display caseback. This is the first Engineer Master II model that doesn't feature a solid back and the playful caseback art that has always adorned it. In terms of diameter, the watch is also significantly larger than the Skin Diver at and comes in at 43.5mm.

The recessed tritium tubes of the Pilot GMT.

The GMT hand looks much closer to the dial than other Ball Watch designs.

The thin 11.9mm case of the Pilot GMT.

The Pilot GMT features the first display caseback for the Engineer Master II series. In addition to being attractive, it also allows for a thinner case. The highly visible movement features decorative pearlage on the bridges and rotor.

The dial is very distinctive, both relying on the DNA of other Ball watches and providing attributes that are new. While the "globe" pattern in the center is consistent with the other Ball watches (we've seen it in the Trainmaster Worldtime watches) the surface of the dial is unique. It's an attractive texture that provides extreme contrast and makes it easy to quickly pick up the hands and recessed tubes.

A close-up view of the entire dial of the Pilot GMT.

Mechanically the watch features the RR1201 movement, which is an ETA 2893-2. With this movement, the local time is set in the third crown position and the date and 24 hour GMT hand are set in the second position.

Last, but not least, is the lume. The Pilot GMT uses relatively thin tubes, and even though they are recessed, the lume appears equivalent to other T25 watches. When combined with the superluminova from the aluminum bezel and the GMT hand, the lume signature is attractive and has a distinct character.

The lume signature of the Pilot GMT.

Below are a few more photos of the Pilot GMT on a metal bracelet. It is also available on a crocodile band with deployant clasp. Either configuration retails for $2,499.

The case and bracelet of the Pilot GMT.

Another view of the textured dial of the Pilot GMT.

Another view of the caseback of the Pilot GMT.

The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.