Consider this BR-01 Instrument watch on steroids. It’s a chronograph movement created exclusively for Bell & Ross plus a pumped-up case that is both ultra-light and ultra-durable because it is assembled with high-tech materials and equipped with strange features such as protective bumpers and a toggle-pusher-operated chronograph. “The goal,” Rosillo states, “was to make the greatest usefulness watch, equivalent to an SUV, but in an watch — as tough as a 4×4 but as mild as a drone.” Step one was finding an exclusive movement. Bell & Ross doesn’t make its own movements and has no aspirations to become a manufacture brand. For its complex bits, it taps the deep pool of accomplished third party movement producers in Switzerland. When it developed its own tourbillon watches, by way of instance, it relied on the then notable, now defunct BNB for the movements. (They are created by MHC, Manufacture Hautes Complications.) For the BR-X1 Rosillo and Belamich desired a chronograph movement as a chrono is the complication many valued and most often used by pilots. “The best complication for a sports watch, for an aviation watch, is a chronograph,” states Belamich. “We wanted to have the best chronograph movement we could.” Nevertheless, they needed a movement which they may customize since Belamich had a number of inventions that he wanted installed in the motion to make it.
By James Phang
Bell & Ross has been known for its ruggedness and strong statements through its iconic square timepiece – the BR01. For Baselworld 2016, Bell & Ross steps up its game again through its military inspiration, with two new ceramic watches designed to cater to air forces operating in warm countries. The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Desert Type is a 3-hander with date while the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Desert Type, is a chronograph with bi-compax layout.
Together with the BR-X1, Rosillo states, Bell & Ross has broken the horological sound barrier, so to speak. “What is the noise barrier for watches” he asks. “The technical sound barrier is a manufacture movement. The business sound barrier is to market watches costing more than $10,000.” Other watch firms have broken those barriers, of course, but for Bell & Ross they’re new frontiers. “For us, these are enormous challenges,” Rosillo says.To match them, Rosillo and Belamich chose to make a wristwatch that was basically an extreme version of their most popular watch, the BR-01 Instrument. The BR-X1 has the exact same instantly recognizable shape as the BR-01 Instrument, the opinion that put Bell & Ross on the watch map when it appeared in 2005. Produced by Belamich, it is made up of a round dial in a square case, a look inspired by the tools on plane dashboards that fascinate Belamich and he started collecting as a youthful man.With the BR-01, Belamich created a cockpit clock for the wrist which celebrated the merits of usefulness, simplicity, legibility and precision appreciated by pilots. Those attributes now specify the Bell & Ross design aesthetic.The BR-01 Device has been a smash hit and gave Bell & Ross its own corporate identity, its signature appearance and its chief version. Now, in its many variations, it accounts for more than half of Bell & Ross sales. (Just how much more Rosillo does not say. Privately held, the firm does not disclose revenue or production figures.) Belamich calls for the BR-X1 “a body-built BR-01.”
I printed about the brand new for 2010 Bell & Ross Vintage Heritage collection and Vintage Original watches here. Though at the time I wasn’t sure of the exact names (not certain if Bell & Ross did). In that article I spoke that the Bell & Ross Vintage Heritage BR 123 and 126 watches, as well as the beige coloured Vintage Original 123 and 126 watches. By the way, “123” stands for a watch using a three-hand with sub seconds automatic containing a Swiss ETA 2895, while “126” is for models using a 2894 automatic chronograph movement. In that article I showed a number of the elderly Bell & Ross watches that this new collection will be a “revision” of.The classic Bell & Ross Vintage and Geneva versions are beautiful, and very well designed. They’re only marred by their size — that is roughly 36-37mm in width. These brand new watches are 41mm broad — that with their thin bezels wear ‘large’ on the the wrist. In this post I’m displaying images of this new Bell & Ross Vintage Original Black, and the yet to be formally announced dressier version of the watch that might be called the Vintage Geneva. I presume that as it is “classic” in the sense it is a thematic re-issue of a former Bell & Ross view, and is thematically similar to this Geneva. This usually means that Bell & Ross might clarify the name afterwards, but “Vintage Geneva” 123 and 126 would not be a dreadful name.UPDATE: The watches that I presumed will be known as “Geneva” bits are in fact going to be known as “Bell & Ross Vintage Officer watches”
The new Desert Type timepieces by Bell & Ross will be encased in the BR 03 shape (a smaller version of the square-shaped, on-board instrument-like case). In line with its moniker “Desert Type”, Bell & Ross has applied a camouflage style to its iconic model which stays true to its aviation and military concept. Both BR 03-92 Desert Type and BR 03-94 Desert Type chronograph sport a classic black PVD 42mm ceramic case and the dials are sand-colored with black indexes and inscriptions. It achieves two purposes, for the matte and furtive aspect, as well as strong(er) resistance to wear and scratches. Both models come with 2 straps, a sand-colored leather strap and a black ultra-resistant fabric strap which can be switched around for a darker look. As always with Bell & Ross, legibility and ease of use are top priorities as these watches are designed with military personnel in mind – and have been known to be used on field by certain special forces (lucky them!). All the indications perfectly contrast with the sand-colored dial. The hands, with their aviation shape, are coated in black but are still luminous during darker conditions.
The main novelty of the BR 03-92 and BR 03-94 Desert Type is the use of a sandwich dial, which has been perceived as the ideal military construction and is most well-known to consumers through Panerai’s timepieces. Formed by two overlapping inserts, the beige upper section is cut away around the numerals and indices, revealing the black photo-luminescent coating covering the lower insert. This black and sand-colored contrast provides optimal reading of the dial during the daytime, as well as during nighttime as all the hollows will reveal the luminescent numerals and indexes.
Both the BR 03-92 and BR 03-94 Desert Type are equipped with modified ETA automatic movements and feature a date window at the 4h30min mark, with an extra chronograph function on the BR 03-94 Desert Type (which displays a small second at 3 and a 30-minute counter at 9).
The BR 03-92 Desert Type is priced at USD 4,300 while the BR 03-94 Desert Type Chronograph is priced at USD 6,000. For more info, please visit bellross.com
JAMES PHANG – CONTRIBUTING WRITER
James Phang is a young watch enthusiast from Singapore and is a self-professed fanatic of independent brands for their unique avant-garde designs. Some of his favorite brands include MB&F, Urwerk, Romain Jerome, Sarpaneva, Peter Speake-Marin and Azimuth. His love for art extends out to all things handmade, and he has made it his personal mission to find the best handmade straps and buckles worldwide for his humble collection. Read his articles here