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 BALL Fireman NECC: BALL Brings in a Diver Under $1,599



There are seven main families of BALL watches: Conductor, Fireman, Engineer II, Engineer Hydrocarbon, Engineer Master II, Trainmaster, and Ball for BMW. Conductors are easily distinguished from the other families with their tonneau shaped cases. Hydrocarbons are visually unique due to the crown protection systems. A few years ago, you could say that Trainmasters were differentiated from all other BALL watches as they were the only ones featuring display case backs, and more than other families had design cues taken from the American era of Ball watches. While the later is still true, the display case back has found its way into more and more collections in recent years.

A few years ago, BALL for BMW watches began featuring display case backs in all models. Last year, the Engineer Master II collection, whose hallmark was anti-magnetic (non display) case backs on all models, came out with the Engineer Master II Pilot featuring a display case back. This year, the display case back comes to the Fireman series in the Fireman NECC, honoring the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). The NECC serves as the single functional command and central management for the U.S. Navy's expeditionary forces. This post takes a look at this 42mm and 300m rated dive watch.

The NECC bracelet is a new for BALL and distinct from other Fireman models. Rather than featuring the same bracelet common to all Fireman models from sport chronographs such as the Stormchaser Pro to formal dress watches like the Fireman Victory, this bracelet is new. It's a traditional three-link bracelet with a raised and polished center link. The two outside links are recessed and sport a brushed finish. The clasp is first rate tool watch quality and appears to be cut from the same mold as the Hydrocarbon "Mad Cow" clasp from 12 years ago. It features a single-fold bracelet with three micro adjustments, safety clasp, and a diver's extension.

The NECC features a similar clasp to the Hydrocarbon "Mad Cow" from the mid 2000s.

Another view of the clasp of the Fireman NECC bracelet and clasp.

At $1,599 retail, the watch is significantly less expensive than the Engineer Master II Diver ($2,299) or the Skindiver II ($2,799). With its 300m water resistance and 120-click unidirectional bezel, the NECC in many respects is on par with BALL's other dive models. The clasp of the watch even provides superior utility to the invisible bracelet style of the Engineer Master II Diver which does not feature micro adjustments or a diver's extension.

If there was one compromise BALL made in order to achieve the NECC's attractive price point, it would be the use of an all-steel bezel rather than using a more scratch resistant ceramic option. BALL describes the bezel as "stainless steel carbide". This all-black bezel gives the watch a clean and modern look. It works particularly well with the guilloche treatment on the dial and splash of color on the inner chapter ring between twelve and three o'clock. However, exposing a black metal surface makes the watch vulnerable to scratches. Like many other watches in this price range, the NECC bezel also does not feature any lume treatment. The bezel also lacks a requisite dive watch pip at twelve o'clock.

While the NECC bezel is a bit spartan, the sapphire caseback may be somewhat overly adorned. The etching of the full name and logo of the NECC consumes so much surface area of the sapphire display back that it obscures the underlying automatic caliber BALL RR1103. Just as the Skin Diver II limits the United States Coast Guard Reserve name and logo to the case back, there appears no NECC theme in the dial of this watch.

Without a doubt this watch appears to be the biggest "bang for the buck" in the entire line. It also contains features not found on more expensive BALL models. The NECC is available on steel bracelet with the option of black, blue, or silver dial.

The silver dialed BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

A closer view of the silver dialed BALL Fireman (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

The date aperture and chapter ring of the BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

The hands and applied hour indices of the BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

A view of the bezel and case side of the BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

The hands and black accents on the inner chapter ring of the BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

The signed crown of the BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

The NECC logo applied display case back of the BALL Fireman NECC.

As expected, the Fireman NECC displays an outstanding lume signature.

The black dial version of the BALL Fireman NECC, model DM3090A-SJ-BK.

The red accents on the hour hand, hour indices, and chapter ring of black dialed version Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-BK).

The date aperture and chapter ring of the black dial version of the Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-BK).

The bracelet meeting the case of the black dialed Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-BK).

The hands and red accents on the chapter ring of the black dial version of the BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-BK).

The signed crown and bezel of the black dialed BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-BK).

A wrist shot of the 42mm silver dialed BALL Fireman NECC (DM3090A-SJ-SL).

Another wrist shot of the silver dialed version of the BALL Fireman NECC.

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.