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About Ballast (from web site):

The power, stealth, and raw beauty of submarines is legendary, as is the dedication and courage of the men who inhabit them – and it’s this remarkable match of man and machine that Ballast Time Instruments celebrates. Meticulously designed and crafted, every Ballast watch meets four basic principles: legibility, functionality, precision, and water-resistance. Ballast Time Instruments are built without compromise in a harmony of utility and raw beauty befitting of their wearer.

A classic design with a rugged twist - the Vanguard is the perfect time piece for any occasion. Features such as a solid marine grade steel case, screw lock crown, unidirectional bezel, custom molded silicone band and Swiss Made precision ensure that this watch is as durable as the submarine class it is named after.

Stock Photo:
Model tested: Ballast Vanguard BL-3114-11
This watch was donated for review.
Retail price: $395 USD


Initial Impression: My first impression was that this is a very "me too" diver. Similar in looks and style to many others with the basic black dial, bezel, hands and markers.


Delivered with both and outer and inner boxes. They are nice quality boxes. I wish companies would pay more attention to some of the small details of the watch and worry less about the presentation box. Maybe for gift giving a presentation box is important. They could always offer an upgraded and basic presentation package. Then those that want the fancy boxes can order them with their watch. I'd rather see the money go to an alternate strap than to the presentation box.

Included in the inner box was the watch, hang tag, manual and warranty card. The watch comes on a pillow. Not much protection provided in the box to prevent the watch from getting bounced around during shipment. This is one of the small details I like the watches companies to take note of. These watches NEEDto be secured for shipment. Some companies go to great lengths to make sure that their watches are not bouncing around as they make the trip to your home. I consider this a critical detail that can't be measured in the quality of the watch itself, unless it arrives damaged to you.

Dial and Bezel:

The dial is very nicely laid out. They use dots for the hour markers except for at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions. The 3, 6 and 9 positions use a larger index marker and the 12 position uses the company logo. I would have liked the 3, 6 and 9 markers to be identical. They are slightly different and I assume this has to do with the placement of the date window.

This is a very traditional diver bezel. It is a 120 click bezel which I like to see. The clicks have a solid feel to them. The bezel offers smooth rotation and very little , if any, play. The bezel contains a lumed pip at the 12 position.

The sword hands feature a solid minute hand and a partial skeleton hour hand. The lume on the hands is adequate. There is no lume on the second hand. The second hand does have a red tip that serves mostly as an accent color.

There is an open date window so that you can see 5 days in the window. However, only the even days are numbered and the odd days are represented by a dot. This feature makes for good date visibility as the numbers are large, but overall, I am not a fan of the even only numbering.

Case Back and Clasp:

Nice screw down case back. The case back is engraved with the company logo, model number, and some other information about the watch. It looks good and is functional as it contributes to the 200M water resistance rating.

The clasp is a one button divers style clasp. It only has one micro adjustment. I prefer 3 micro adjustments as in a more traditional diver clasp. This is also a single button release clasp with no safety lock. These features are more representative of a diver style fashion watch than a diver tool watch.


The crown is nicely engraved with the company logo and is protected by crown guards. It is a medium sized crown and it is easy to open and close when changing the time or setting the date.

Wrist Shot:

Nice wrist presence with this watch. Not overly large and very legible. I measured a 55mm lug-to-lug distance. The case measures 47.5mm and 50.5mm with the crown. However, I think this watch appears to wear much smaller that its actual dimensions. Maybe because the case is only 13.25mm thick or because the bracelet is only 3.75mm thick. But, I get the impression of a much smaller watch on my wrist.


Overall this is a good, solid bracelet. The bracelet is 24mm at the lug and tapers to 22mm at the clasp. There are 6 removable links. I removed one link and the watch wears a bit on the loose side for my 8.25" wrist. This is where the extra micro-adjustments would come in handy. The end links are solid and tight to the case. The clasp locks nicely and securely. It also releases easily when the button is pressed.

My only complaint is that the links are a bit on the thin side so the bracelet lacks that heavy feel that you get with a thicker bracelet. The weight is reduced as well, which may be a positive for some. I am more used to a heavy feeling bracelet that makes the overall watch feel more substantial.


Mediocre luminosity for a dive watch. The hands are brighter than the markers. The pip noticeably weaker. No lume on the second hand.


I opened the case back and the case contains a ISA-2330 movement, 0 jewels and Swiss Made.


Overall this is a decent dive watch for this price point.

The pros:
1) 200M water resistance
2) Smooth 120 click bezel
3) Very good readability

The cons:
1) No safety clasp
2) Only one micro adjustment in the clasp
3) Less than average luminosity

I have owned several divers in this price range and I think the average watch enthusiast will always make the comparison to the Seiko Monster when you are talking about $250 dive watches. The Monster is an automatic and has the some of the best luminosity in the business. This Ballast watch offers some very good qualities in a larger case size. But if you are looking for something different and don't want a 'me too' watch like the Seiko Monster this is a reasonable alternative.

I hope you find this review helpful and informative. Thank you.
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· Registered
311 Posts
Great review Marc thank you

· Premium Member
24,307 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the positive feedback. I hope that these reviews help you make purchase decisions or at provide you with some information that you would have to hunt for if you were researching a watch on your own.

· Super Moderator
21,562 Posts
Yowza Marc, definitely found this review helpful, and informative sir. :) Not sure had ever seen the brand, or these watches before either. So thanks once again for yet another introduction to a new brand. :thumb:

These really would be such a great option, or alternative for people. They have a look that's just traditional enough, but then changes things up incredibly well too. I mean all of the details added catch your eye, but take nothing away from the design of the watch, and only adds to it. Fantastic markers, and hands throw you a nice curve, then those textured lines on the dial add just the right amount of excitement without going overboard. Even the bezel font, as well as bezel is outstanding !

What a beauty Marc, and for such a great price also ! ..P.S. Did you see that orange, and black variation?! :eek: ..Really excellent watch, and review ! Thanks so much !!!
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