Bell and Ross BR 05 gold
Conceived as an affordable entry into the world of the integrated-bracelet, luxury-sports watches, the BR 05 was first launched in steel, priced at a little under US$5,000.
Now the brand has just taken the covers off the decidedly more lavish BR 05 Blue Gold, which is rendered in the trendy colour combination of a metallic blue dial with a rose gold case, and even a matching gold bracelet.
When it made its debut last year, I found the BR 05 to be as good looking as it was controversial. At a glance the design is redolent of the usual suspects in the luxury-sports watch genre. However, there’s originality to the design that is less noticeable, such as the bezel derived from the quintessential Bell & Ross (B&R) wristwatch, the square BR 01. And the case finishing on the steel BR 05 is well done; not overly complicated yet managing to have well defined edges.
All of those qualities carry over to the rose-gold variant, which coupled with the blue, sunburst-brushed dial, results in a compelling watch. But the price is far from compelling. At US$32,500 on a bracelet (and US$11,000 less on a rubber strap), the BR 05 in gold is expensive, especially since the competition is very, very strong.
It is cheaper than the Royal Oak or Overseas in solid gold, but the difference doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch at this level. The Overseas in gold, for instance, costs a little over US$46,000.
While the value proposition in terms of the movement and finishing is not as compelling at this price point – and that is probably not the point of an all-gold watch anyway – the BR 05 in gold is handsome.
Compared with pricier alternatives from Audemars Piguet or Vacheron Constantin, the BR 05 case design is less nuanced but still nicely detailed. The case is a square with rounded edges, avoiding complicated geometric shapes and angles, but finished with sharp, polished bevels on all edges. The bezel is wide and flat, with four large bolts at each corner – a trademark element taken from the BR 01. But while straightforward, the case construction and finishing is excellent. Like most B&R cases, it is made by G&F Chatelain, a case specialist that also supplies bigger, more exotic names like Richard Mille and MB&F. The quality of the case finishing is accented by the rich tone of pink gold, giving it a more upscale look than the steel model.
The case is sized exactly the same as the steel version, 40 mm by 10.4 mm, giving it a compact profile on the wrist. And the movement is the BR-CAL.321, which is a Sellita SW300 fitted with an open-worked rotor.