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 Skindiver II: Ball Brings its Biggest and Best Heritage Diver

Last year, to many people's surprise, Ball discontinued the Engineer Master II Skindiver (DM2108A), the 40.5mm heritage diver that was based on the original Skindiver, their private label dive effort from the mid 1960s. This year at Baselworld, Jeff Hess explained, that yes, there indeed was a Ball Skindiver in the 1960s and that it was a private label effort created by Sydney Ball for the retail Ball Watches Store in Ohio. The new Skindiver II (DM3108A) replaces the prior Skindiver. It has several points of differentiation and outright enhancement. 

From a size standpoint it's much larger. The prior Skindiver had a 40.5 mm case with a 20mm lug. The new Skindiver II boasts a 43mm case with 22mm lugs that has the feeling of even greater size due to some design attributes. First, there is much more open space on the dial.  This has been achieved by bringing down the font and marker sizes on the bezel, and moving all of the indices other than the hour markers from the dial to the chapter ring. The chapter ring gives the watch much better flow. Rather than the straight metal ring of the original Skindiver, it is black and sloped inward creating a nice bridge between dial and bezel. The cut outs for tritium tubes are also a nice touch.  Ball also eliminated the day feature which makes the watch seem bigger. The black insert of the Skindiver II is ceramic and has been updated with an attractive and functional hobnail finish.

A look at the previous Skindiver (DM2108A).

At $2,799, it is $100 more than the previous version of the Skindiver on a metal bracelet, but comes with a series of upgrades. In addition to the metal bracelet, a rubber strap with a tang buckle is included. Ball fans will recognize this as the standard issue band on the Ball Fireman Night Train II. The movement has been upgraded from an Elaborate Grade ETA to a COSC grade movement. The watch is also more professional grade. It now features an automatic helium release valve and its water resistance is increased from 300m to 500m.  The lume has been upgraded as well. While still featuring the lower tritium threshold T25 permit, the tubes are substantially longer with colors that are more easily visible. While the Skindiver (DM2108A) featured a relatively pale blue tritium tubes at the twelve o'clock marker, the new Skindiver II features a distinctive orange tube at twelve o'clock and green tubes on the other markers.

The prior Skindiver was my favorite Ball watch, and the timepiece I personally wore more than any other Ball watch over the years. While I am sad to see it exit the collection, I am thrilled with the way Ball has upped its game on the replacement.

The chapter ring with indices and tritium tube cut-outs on the new Skindiver II (DM3108).

Another view of the chapter ring and a close up of the second hand on the new Skindiver II.

The date indicator and lower portion of the dial of the new Skindiver II.

A look at the crown of the SkinDiver II (DM3108). Note both the crown and bezel received an attractive hobnail (or Clous de Paris) Guilloche treatment.

A look at the automatic helium release valve of the new Skindiver II.

The case back of the latest Skindiver II (DM3108) featuring the logo of the United States Coast Guard Reserve.

Left to right: the clasp of the new Skindiver II (DM3108) and the prior Skindiver (DM2108) are nearly identical.

The lume signature of the new Skindiver II (DM3108).

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.