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.

BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase: Welcome Back, Lit Moon.

The BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-BE

Prior to the release of the 2015 Trainmaster Moon Phase, two other three-hand BALL moon phase watches have preceded it. The first was the Engineer Master II Moon Phase, which came out in the mid 2000s. It featured the signature 40mm Engineer Master II case, a backlit crown-operated moon phase, and Arabic twelve, nine, six, and three o'clock markers made out of tritium tubes. The watch's signature feature, and in my opinion the reason why it has held its value so well over the years was its backlit moon; resulting from BALL's ingenious idea to backlight the moon phase register with an array of tritium tubes. The Engineer Master II Moon Phase was replaced in 2009 with the Engineer II Ohio Moon Phase.

The Engineer Master II Moon Phase from the late 2000s.

An Engineer Master II Moon Phase that recently appeared on Topper Pre-Owned Select.

The BALL Engineer II Ohio Moon Phase.

Like its predecessor, the Engineer II Ohio Moon Phase featured a case measuring 40mm in diameter and 13.2 mm thick. Ball removed the Arabic numbers constructed from tritium tubes and replaced them with the Ohio Collection's signature mixture of applied Arabic and triangular markers. The moon phase aperture was enlarged, particularly at the edges, the framed date window was moved from four-thirty to three o'clock, and the sunburst dial became much more pronounced.

What was missing from the Engineer II Ohio Moon Phase, and something that fans of the brand have expressed to me that they truly did miss, was the backlit moon phase. Save the occasional new old stock (NOS) that would occasionally turn up in a stock balance, there hasn't been a back lit moon phase in the collection for several years. This is why the new Trainmaster Moon Phase is such a big deal. BALL has finally brought the back lit moon back! This post will look at a both the blue and silver dial versions of the Trainmaster Moon Phase.

What's clear looking at this watch is that it brings its own stylistic energy to the piece. When writing about the Cleveland Night Express recently, I wrote that BALL's Trainmaster watches always include display backs, minimalistic tritium tubes, and formal finish on the dials, and that there is a core group of watches that take design cues from the American era of Ball pocket watches. This model is not that type of Trainmaster.

As far as I can tell, (and BALL pocket watch experts, please correct me) the Trainmaster's scalloped dial doesn't particularly spring from pocket watches of the past. Instead of featuring the Ohio's pip style tritium tubes, the watch features tubes placed lengthwise directly on the markers. The indices also seem higher than those found on the Ohio. The entire moon phase opening and presentation of the moon and night have been reimagined. Instead of the crescent-shape opening of watches past, the opening is a complete circle. The stars are both on the dial and in moon complication itself. At 14.5mm thick, it is slightly thicker than the Ohio models. The Trainmaster moon is also much prettier and more sparkly than the Ohio moon.

Below are photos of the Trainmaster with focus on the backlit moon in various phases. What do you think of BALL's newest moon phase effort?

BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-SL.

The moon phase complication of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-BE.

The date and moon phase complications of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-BE.

The scalloped dial of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-BE.

The moon phase complication of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-SL.

The scalloped dial of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-SL.

The crown and case side of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase NM3082D-LLFJ-SL.

The standard black alligator band and deployant clasp of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase.

The case back of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase.

The movement of the BALL Trainmaster Moon Phase.

The lume signature of the Trainmaster Moon Phase.

MOON CALENDAR PORTION

November 11th, new moon.

November 17th, waxing crescent.

November 20th, waxing crescent.

November 25th, full moon.

November 30th, waning crescent.

December 5th, waning crescent.

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.