For a single day, myself and 22 other far-more-qualified watch fans closely analyzed 71 watches in 14 groups, constituting the full world of watchmaking in the $3,100 non-complication Tudor Black Bay to a woman’s tourbillion made by Bovet that retails for over $200,000. Of all of the watches that I watched, one that really stood out to me was that the Bell & Ross BR126 Sport Heritage Chronograph. An entrance in the Sport Watch category, The Sport Heritage Chronograph didn’t take home an award at the service, but it left a lasting impression on me for holding its own against the rest of the watches at the running.Here’s one thing I’ve discovered in my years as both an artist and a watch collector: excellent design costs the exact same to make as poor layout. It just requires some heart and soul to make it really mean something. Better stuff cost more, sure, but a pad printer will lay all those style letter on a dial that you tell it to. As soon as an economical (though reliable) Swiss ETA movement is involved, as is the case with this BR126, many watch businesses start from a point of resignation and do not even try to do something truly rewarding. Bell & Ross appeared past the cost point about the Sport Heritage and really broke the fantastic design barrier on watches at this level. We have seen brands like Omega and Panerai experiment with an artificial patina effect, but the BR126 claws the “aged luminous” look on its own hour hands and markers. If you’ve ever spent some time staring at a classic Sea-Dweller or Submariner, then you’ll appreciate how persuasive this seems. And along with incorporating some historic realism, in addition, it sets the tone for the remainder of the watch concerning its color palate: subdued, timeless, and trendy.
He asks me (probably rhetorically), “what’s the most significant part a wristwatch?” I’m pretty certain I know he wants me to state “the movement,” so that I do. “Yes,” and he proceeds to explain to me how the design philosophy of this BR X2 watch is all about eliminating what appears to be the separation of situation and movement, rather melding it into one visual thing. Thus, with a steel motion plate between two thick layers of closely machined sapphire crystal, there’s a transparent sapphire instance that connects directly to the movement. The effect is both visually stunning and rather novel.Bell & Ross does so entirely for visual scenery – and it appears to work. When I last encountered a concept much like this, it had been from the Piaget 900P (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here) which merged the motion plate and watch instance so as to generate the thinnest mechanical watch movement in the world. Though the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is really thinner-feeling compared to the brand’s other square-cased “Instrument” watches, it isn’t about breaking dimension records. More importantly, it is all about looking darn cool whilst also being something movement nerds can reliably stand behind.Bell & Ross worked together with the Swiss motion manufacturer MHC in order to produce the movement inside of this Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic. The movement is, for the most part, simple (for a tourbillon) and satisfying, supplying the time with tourbillon as the seconds indicator, and automatic winding by means of a micro-rotor that may be seen on the back of the motion. Bell & Ross uses their now signature ampersand emblem on the cage across the varying inertia balance wheel tourbillon mechanism. The tourbillon is decidedly wide in diameter so as to supply an expansive view on the dial.
The BR 03 family of watches has stood as a foundation of the Bell & Ross catalog throughout recent years. From Bauhaus-inspired to desert combat-ready, we always see Bell & Ross build upon the existing concept to make watches that are thought to appeal to a broad range of enthusiasts. More recently, the brand has included the third and newest variant, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Black Camo, to their powerful line of “camouflage watches.” While it’s true that many Bell & Ross models can seem somewhat “loud” on the wrist, this one seeks to be, well, a bit more covert.All joking aside, the sheer number of BR 03 versions can seem overwhelming for the average watch purchaser. However, I think it is entertaining to watch Bell & Ross since they include more styles, incorporate different materials, and draw a diverse audience to their timepieces, all while staying true to their individuality. After all, there is no doubt that the BR 03 line delivers powerful brand recognition so it makes sense for them to explore the possibilities provided by the underlying design even if that just means easy aesthetic updates.At 42mm wide, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Dark Camo features the same dimensions as the rest of the BR 03 watches. In my experience, it’s the most comfortable size to get a Bell & Ross and the matte black ceramic case with this one should only serve to enhance wearability because of the substance’s lightness and also the fact that one doesn’t need to be concerned about scratching it. As a successor to the two previously published watches at the camouflage sub-collection (the BR 03-92 Phantom and BR 03-92 Commando), this model almost seems to tie in visual components from both of them while functioning as a worthy, closing installment from the series.As I mentioned, everything about this watch is meant to fly under the radar, for example, dial itself. It’s entirely composed of, you guessed it, a distinct black and gray camo patchwork pattern. It’s intriguing to see how it works with the sandwich layout, which Bell & Ross does really well. The bottom layer is a good disc of black Super-LumiNova that glows through the numeral cutouts of the top dial coating. Black lume isn’t bright like C3 or similar variants, obviously – because that might give your position away to the enemy.
The next thing that catches all of your eye is probably the brilliant white dial, which is actually lacquer – an unusual dial cloth for Bell & Ross watches. What’s also unusual is that the use of Roman numerals, railroad-style indicators, and blued pear-shaped palms, which pays homage to marine clocks of yesteryear. These design components give the dial an old-world charm, but it takes getting used to because the BR 01 case is ordinarily associated with aviation-inspired layouts, which are inclined to be more contemporary. Regardless, it is a harmonious look, and I particularly like the blued steel hands and the whiteness of the lacquer dial.There’s a subdial for your running seconds at 6 o’clock, also at the middle of the subdial it reads CAL. 203. That would be a reference to the calibre BR-CAL.203 that beats within. It is visible through the event back, and it’s a hand-wound mechanical movement. The choice of a hand-wound motion is apt because marine clocks of yesteryear were also manually wrapped. It defeats at 3Hz and features a suitably long power book of 56 hours.Though Bell & Ross does not say it, the BR-CAL.203 is likely the ubiquitous Unitas 6497. A tried-and-tested hand-wound motion that sees activity in a number of other watches. In the event of this Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine, it has been simply finished with black and brushed bridges and blued screws. It appears very industrial, and if I were to nitpick, I would have preferred a much more elaborately decorated motion to suit the remainder of the watch. I don’t think everyone will be a fan of this, but if you enjoy watches such as the Ulysses Nardin Marine collection, then I feel that the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine will be an interesting alternative, as it blends the timeless appearance of marine-inspired watches together with Bell & Ross’ signature BR case. Price is $8,700.
The very first thing that strikes you about the new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is that it comprises the iconic BR 01 case – the case which we all know and love. In reality, the case is constructed using three different unconventional materials.To begin with, the big 46mm-wide case, bezel, and crown are created using bronze. The choice of bronze is obvious as it’s the metal that’s most correlated with the sea. In case you don’t already understand, bronze is commonly utilized in marine applications since it obviously forms a patina which protects the inherent bronze metal from corrosion. Look nearer, and round the periphery of the case is a ring made of rosewood. Like bronze, wood is another material closely associated with the sea. And finally, the situation back is made from titanium – again, a material perfect for marine applications as it is highly resistant to rust. It is also hypoallergenic, making it great for contact with skin as bronze has the propensity to blot skin.The case is well-constructed and expertly finished, along with the design is just one that we have all come to know and love. It is a very simple design, but it is strong and very appealing. And while it may be a massive square case, it is not too thick, so it wears quite well on the wrist. The wearing comfort was also aided by the comfortable brown alligator strap. The strap comes with a matching bronze buckle, which can be a nice touch. That said, I think that the big Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine case functions best on owners using chunkier wrists.
The BR 03 household of watches has stood as a cornerstone of this Bell & Ross catalog throughout the years. From Bauhaus-inspired to desert combat-ready, we continually see Bell & Ross build upon the current concept to make watches that are meant to appeal to a broad assortment of enthusiasts. More recently, the brand has added the third and latest version, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Black Camo, to their successful line of “camouflage watches.” While it’s true that many Bell & Ross versions can appear somewhat “loud” on the wrist, this one expects to be, well, a little more covert.All joking aside, the absolute variety of BR 03 models can appear overwhelming for the ordinary watch buyer. Still, I think it is entertaining to watch Bell & Ross as they add more styles, incorporate different materials, and attract a diverse audience to their timepieces, all while staying true to their identity. After all, there is no doubt that the BR 03 line provides strong brand recognition so it is logical for them to explore the options offered by the underlying layout even though that just means easy aesthetic updates.At 42mm broad, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Dark Camo features the same measurements as the remainder of the BR 03 watches. In my experience, it’s the most comfortable size to get a Bell & Ross and the matte black ceramic case with this one needs to only serve to boost wearability because of the substance’s lightness and also the fact that one does not need to worry about scratching it. As a successor to both previously released watches at the camouflage sub-collection (the BR 03-92 Phantom and BR 03-92 Commando), this version almost appears to tie in visual elements from both of them while serving as a worthy, final installment in the series.As I mentioned, everything about this view is meant to fly under the radar, for example, dial itself. It is completely composed of, you guessed it, a different black and grey camo patchwork pattern. It’s intriguing to see how it works together with the sandwich design, which Bell & Ross does really nicely. The bottom layer is a good disc of black Super-LumiNova that glows throughout the numeral cutouts of the top dial layer. Black lume is not bright like C3 or similar variations, obviously – because that might give your position away to the enemy.
The very first thing that strikes you about the new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is the fact that it features the iconic BR 01 situation – the case which all of us know and love. But look closer and you’ll realize that perhaps not all is what it seems. In fact, the case is assembled using three different unconventional materials.To start with, the large 46mm-wide case, bezel, and crown are created using bronze. The choice of bronze is clear as it’s the metal that is most associated with the ocean. In case you don’t already understand, bronze is commonly used in marine applications since it naturally forms a patina which shields the underlying bronze metal from corrosion. Look nearer, and around the periphery of the circumstance is a band made from rosewood. Like bronze, wood is another material closely associated with the sea. And ultimately, the case back is made from titanium – again, a material ideal for marine applications as it is highly resistant to corrosion. It’s also hypoallergenic, making it great for touch with skin as bronze has the propensity to blot skin.The situation is well-constructed and expertly finished, and the layout is one that we have all come to know and adore. It is a very simple design, but it is powerful and very appealing. And while it could be a massive square instance, it isn’t too thick, so it wears rather well on the wrist. The sporting comfort was also aided by the comfortable brown alligator strap. The strap comes with a matching bronze buckle, which can be a wonderful touch. That said, I think that the big Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine case works best on owners using chunkier wrists.
A decade ago Bell & Ross unveiled the BR 03-92 Phantom, an all-black wristwatch that perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the era, becoming an overnight bestseller. Now the French watchmaker revisits the same look, with a grey-on-black camouflage dial that is perhaps a nod to a motif popular in contemporary streetwear.
Like the recent BR 03-92 Horolum, the Black Camo has a sandwich dial: the upper camouflage disc has cut-outs for the hour numerals and markers, while the lower disc is covered in black Super-Luminova that glows in the dark. Because the luminous material is black, it has a dark glow rather than the typical green or blue illumination.
The BR 03-92 Black Camo has a 42mm by 42mm matte black ceramic case produced by G&F Chatelain, the high-end case maker that’s owned by Chanel, Bell & Ross’ parent company. As with other BR 03-92 watch cases, the perfectly aligned screws visible on the front are actually nuts that are secured by actual screws on the case back.
Inside is the automatic BR-CAL.302, which is the robust Sellita SW300.
Price and availability
Available on a fabric or rubber strap, the BR 03-92 Black Camo is already in stores, priced at US$3800 or S$5500.
For more, visit Bell & Ross.