Category: Bell and Ross Watches
Every so often, a watch brand will unveil a timepiece with a dial that’s entirely luminescent, such as the Citizen Promaster Full Lume Divers or the TAG Heuer Monaco Night Driver that came out earlier this year. This isn’t just practical for superb visibility at night but looks rather spectacular as well. However, a fully-lumed case? That’s a novelty that’s certainly unprecedented, but also a head-scratcher when it comes to construction. Well, Bell & Ross, whose BR-X5 Green Lum series launched in 2017 and has featured some fully-lumed dials in its own right, has now debuted a radical version of the BR-X5 Green Lum with a case that glows bright green. For starters, let’s look at the case composition, for which Bell & Ross has employed a luminescent fiberglass composite material called LM3D. This material sandwiches a DLC-finished micro-blasted grade 2 titanium in between for extra sturdiness. The top part of the composite also sports the titanium material for the bezel insert, screw-down crown, crown guard, and caseback. At 41mm, the case boasts 100m of water resistance and is integrated with the openworked rubber strap. While the case glows green at night, the matte black dial also features a nice dose of lume, including on the skeletonized hands, hour markers, and power reserve indicator subdial. Like the other BR-X5 Green Lum , there’s a wide date window at the 3 o’clock position and a minute track on the outer flange. Bell & Ross’ Kenissi-based BR-CAL.323 automatic movement powers the watch, which features a 70-hour power reserve and can be viewed through the exposition caseback.
I’ve long been on record as an appreciator and fan of the wilder designs from Bell & Ross. Few watch brands, in fact, have a wider design purview than B&R, which has fairly traditional aviation inspired watches at one end of the spectrum, bronze skull watches on the other, and their standard square case instrument watches right in the middle. The BR-X5 Green Lum series, an ongoing collection of watches that use luminescent material in a manner that can only be described as Maximalist, sits somewhere near the skulls, I think. Watch enthusiasts, of course, are notable in that we tend to love inventive applications of lume, but bold designs centered around the stuff still feel fairly niche. The new BR-X5 Green Lum takes the brand’s experiments with lume to a new level, giving the case itself the full lume treatment.
The new BR 03-94 Blacktrack chronograph from Bell & Ross, in a limited edition of only 500 pieces, goes perfectly with the new Blacktrack BT-06 motorcycle, designed jointly by designer Sacha Lakic and Bell & Ross. More than a simple collaboration, it is the extension of a unique machine to a new Bell & Ross instrument watch. Power dressed in an ultra-graphic fairing. For its new instrument watch, Bell & Ross reconnects with its love of motorcycles and continues its exploration of dynamic forms. Inspired by the avant-garde lines of stealth aircraft, the new BR 03-94 Blacktrack chronograph watch matches perfectly with the Blacktrack BT-06 motorcycle, created jointly by Sacha Lakic and the watch brand’s designers.
Some designers are truly gifted. From automotive and industrial design to interiors, architecture, furniture and even bicycles and scooters, for Sacha Lakic, nothing can stop inspiration. Sacha Lakic expresses his talent in many creative fields: furniture design with the Bubble sofa, an emblematic piece of Roche Bobois, urban furniture with Stay Concrete, and even designer furniture for dogs and cats for Bogarel, the brand that he co-founded. But speed and movement remain at the heart of the designer’s work. At the origin of the style of exceptional Venturi electric vehicles, Sacha Lakic has received several awards for his daring creations. His concepts are at the origin of several extraordinary motorcycles, notably for the French brand Voxan, before diversifying and creating his own brand in 2016: Blacktrack.
« The goal is to create functional and passionate products that give their owners pleasure and arouse emotions. Blacktrack creates that rare feeling that emanates from an extraordinary encounter between performance and form, color and distinctive design », Explains Sacha Lakic. This approach is directly manifested in its cafe racers and, more recently, in the launch of a range of accessories lifestyle.
It’s no secret that Bell & Ross is intrinsically linked to aeronautics. But fans of the brand are also aware of its forays into the world of motorcycles over the past ten years. This exciting adventure combining design, technique and performance began in 2011, when Bell & Ross teamed up with Shaw Harley-Davidson to create a unique motorcycle: The Nascafe Racer Bell & Ross. Among its notable features, the special BR 01 Carbon watch inserted in the center console, like an on-board tool. In 2014, Bell & Ross paid creative homage to the golden age of two-wheel speed records with the spectacular B-Rocket. Inspired by the first jet planes designed in the United States, the concept bike was created with engineers from Shaw Harley-Davidson. The B-Rocket directly inspired Bruno Belamich, creative director of Bell & Ross, to create two instrument watches: the BR 01 chronograph and its little sister, the BR 03 B-Rocket. In 2023, the BR 03-94 Blacktrack opens a new chapter in this fascinating and daring saga. At the heart of the project, the idea of a motorcycle fairing inspired by the facets of stealth aircraft, with the desire to create a machine with flat and angular surfaces. Once again, Bell & Ross’ iconic design is manifested in a surprising way with the new BR 03-94 Blacktrack chronograph, featuring a 42mm case in matte black ceramic, water-resistant to 100 meters. Its appearance is always inspired by the world of aeronautics. This creative source is also found in certain design elements of the Blacktrack BT-06 motorcycle, whose faceted angles directly reference the technical design of stealth aircraft. Bikers will immediately notice the black calfskin strap inspired by the engine, hemmed with a red edge and lined with a high-strength technical material. The strap fastens with a black PVD-coated steel pin buckle, while the quilting of the strap itself is a nod to motorcycle seat covers and riders’ overalls. Innovative and iconoclastic, the new dial of the BR 03-94 Blacktrack takes on the appearance of a dashboard. Bell & Ross is known for transposing the precision of cockpit instruments to the wrist. For the first time, the counters of this chronograph adopt the very specific design of motorcycle handlebar dials. The link with motorcycle instrumentation is obvious. In the red tone of a gauge, the chronograph’s 30-minute totalizer is immediately readable. The dial has a subtle detail: the superposition of the chronograph seconds hand, off-center, on the minute hand creates the “B” of the Blacktrack. This faceting work is also found on the bezel which, seen from above, has an octagonal shape. With a subtle contrasting mix of gray and black, remarkable on the numbers, all the information is present and readable on a dial that leans towards dark tones, decorated with an openwork cooling grid. On the flange and indexes, the typography of the numbers is carefully worked. The indexes are treated with Super-LumiNova
, as are the skeletonized hands. To mark the link between Bell & Ross and motorcycles, the BR 03-94 Blacktrack chronograph can be inserted in the center of the motorcycle console, thus allowing the instrument watch to move from the wrist to the dashboard: symbiosis between the two machines is complete. Like all Bell & Ross watches, the BR 03-94 Blacktrack does not stop at the finesse of the aesthetic execution. Above all, it is an instrument watch designed to be precise, readable, functional and reliable. A focus on performance and reliability is at the heart of this collaboration. Thus, the design is equipped with a beautiful motorization: at the heart of this contemporary and sporty timepiece is the BR-CAL.301 self-winding mechanical movement. Caliber with refined finishes and a 42-hour power reserve, it allows the display of hours, minutes, seconds and date, as well as chronograph functions. It perfectly meets the performance of the 1,200cc that equip the Blacktrack motorcycle. Efficiency meets personality.
We’ve told the story of Bell & Ross many times, and most of you will be familiar with its most emblematic watch, the BR Instrument. A circle within a square, a watch directly modelled after dashboard instruments found in antique military aeroplanes, this watch (and all variations) is the brand’s icon. Recognizable among all is the BR 03 (the smaller version of the BR 01, which has become the standard model), which has been around for more than 15 years now. It was about time to give it a slight update. But with such a cult status, it had to respect some codes. Let’s find out about the updated Bell & Ross BR 03 Collection in this article and our video above. Bell & Ross was founded in 1992 as a university project by two friends: Bruno Belamich (the Bell in the name) and Carlos Rosillo (the Ross in the name). The initial idea was to create instrumental pieces inspired by everything military – special forces, diving commandos, air forces and field action in general. The first watches were made with German manufacturer Sinn and quickly gained recognition from civilian enthusiasts and military personnel. But the real turning point in the brand’s history occurred in 2005, with the creation of a watch that would become the emblem of Bell & Ross BR 03 , the BR 01 Instrument.
It was the brand’s declaration of independence, a watch with its own design and identity. A key watch for Bell & Ross, it gave the brand international exposure. The main reason for the success of this watch lies in the simplicity of its design. Unique and easily recognizable, it is permeated with military roots. The distinctive design came from transferring the shape of vintage dashboard instruments from a plane to the wrist. This no-nonsense design made it into a wristwatch with the now-emblematic circle within a square, held by 4 functional screws (one in each corner) and an extremely legible dial in the centre. Soon after, the imposing BR 01, with a 46mm width, gave birth in 2006 to a smaller version, the 42mm BR 03, which has now become the cornerstone of the collection, derived in dozens of versions, even some directly inspired by the display of dashboard instruments. With more than 15 years of existence, this design is getting a discreet but welcome update in 2023 with the new Bell & Ross BR 03 Collection. Rest assured, the emblematic, instantly recognizable shape and the military and aviation inspirations are still at the heart of the watch. But it’s been lightly revamped to make it even more attractive.
First of all, the new collection respects the original canons of the watch: it still has a square case with a perfectly round dial under a flat sapphire crystal, it is still secured by 4 screws, and it still has one of the purest and most legible dials in the industry. However, some changes have been made to make the BR 03 slightly more appealing without denying its military roots. First, the case is now 41mm x 41mm, meaning it’s now 1mm smaller. And considering that a square watch has more presence than a round watch with an identical width, every millimetre counts. More subtle changes have been made to the case. The lugs, for instance, are now 4mm in width, compared to 4.5mm in the past. Also, they have a new faceted profile, which brings more curvature towards the wrist. In the same vein, the rounded corners have a slightly larger radius, and the lateral bevels on the side of the case and the bezel are much larger than before for more depth. The case retains its comfortable 100m water resistance, with a solid back and a sapphire crystal on top. The small changes can be felt, and the watch wears slightly smaller and sits more comfortably on the wrist. The design is more refined, thanks to more rounded corners and larger bevels (polished on the steel models). More importantly, the rubber strap has been redefined, with a narrower profile and a more tapering effect at the buckle, again increasing comfort.
Following this evolution, the new Bell & Ross BR 03 only bears very light changes on its ultra-legible dial. Mainly, the hour hand is slimmer, while the tracks and numerals are slightly more pronounced. Thanks to high-contrast matte dials and the generous use of Super-LumiNova, time is visible at a glance in all situations. The date window at 4h30 will remain a point of debate; we think the watch could do without it.
The BR 03 new generation is presented as a complete collection of eight references. It comprises three classic black ceramic case models – Black Matte with white numerals, Phantom with a full-black look, numerals and hands included, and Heritage with a retro look. The three classic steel versions are back too, with the Black Steel, Blue Steel and Golden Heritage models, respectively, with black, blue and brown dials. Also, Bell & Ross introduces two new models. First is the BR 03 Copper with a galvanized brushed dial, engraved black numerals and indexes that give it further depth. It has blue metallic hands, a steel case and a brown strap. The second is the Bell & Ross BR 03 Military Ceramic, with a black ceramic case and a khaki green dial, as the most military inspired model of the collection. Last but not least, Bell & Ross also updates the movement with an upgraded calibre 302. It uses the latest innovations of Sellita with an extended power reserve of 54 hours versus 38 hours in the past and is based on the Swiss manufacturer’s SW300 architecture. All in all, the new Bell & Ross BR 03 collection isn’t a revolution. And this is exactly why it is a clever move. It would not have been clever to dramatically alter a watch with such a recognizable design. Instead, gradual evolutions to bring slightly better specifications and refined design feel like the best solution to ensure the BR 03 retains its emblematic status over the years.
In September 2019, Paris-based Bell & Ross debuted its most ambitious watch in years: the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Green Steel. The BR 05 (BR05) was ambitious because, for the first time, Bell & Ross was producing a watch simply designed to look and feel good, as opposed to needing inspiration from a particular world of sport or activity (such as flying, racing, or diving). The BR 05’s development was fueled by popular watch collector demand for easy-to-wear steel watches that came on integrated steel bracelets, and in some ways, it shared an aesthetic with watches that came before it. That said, the Bell & Ross BR 05 is most inspired by the past work of Bell & Ross itself. The amazing watch is among the most satisfying I’ve worn in a while — and then Bell & Ross decided to come out with the Chronograph version in the BR 05 Chrono. Today, I review the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Green Steel reference BR05C-BU-ST/SRB in steel with a deep metallic blue dial and matching blued rubber strap. I will readily admit I was reluctant to review a watch so specifically designed to fit on a bracelet… on a strap. I’m actually really glad I did. While it can be particularly satisfying to review a watch such as the BR 05 on the companion bracelet that is designed to go with it, there are times when life doesn’t get any better than a supple rubber strap. Bell & Ross debuted the BR 05 Chrono (on aBlogtoWatch here) about a year after the original three-hand BR 05 models came out. The BR 05 Chrono has the same 42mm-wide steel case, but it is a little bit thicker on account of the automatic chronograph movement. The automatic is, indeed, a bit larger of a watch as compared to the three hand-model, but when worn snug it is very comfortable, and the case proportions are lovely.
Speaking of the case, the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Green Steel itself is a thing of beauty that takes the square case look of the Bell & Ross BR 01, then softens it and gives it fancier polished angles and surfaces for the BR 05. It’s the Gerald Genta watch Bell & Ross made — that simple. As a tool watch, the BR 05 is still pretty competent, even if it is designed for lifestyle appeal. The case is beefy and water-resistant to 100 meters, with a screw-down crown and a sapphire crystal over the dial. The side of the case has an attractive crown and chronograph pusher guard, and the dial legibility is very good, overall. I particularly like the design of the two subdials, whose shapes mimic that of the BR 05 case itself. Bell & Ross chose a bit of style of functionality for the dial of the BR 05 Chrono, on account of the fact that the hour-counter chronograph register has been removed, even though the movement offers a full 12-hour chronograph. This means the base Swiss Made ETA 2894-2 automatic movement (which Bell & Ross calls its calibre BR-CAL.301) is outfitted to have a 30-minute chronograph, along with the time and a round date window located between 4 and 5 o’clock on the dial. Through the rear of the watch you can admire the movement, which has been perlage-decorated for use in the BR 05 Chrono watches and given a custom Bell & Ross wheel spoke-style automatic rotor. This latter design element is a bit random, even though it does tie into the larger DNA of the Bell & Ross brand. The movement operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve.
Returning to the watch dial, I really admire how Bell & Ross skillfully played with levels and materials. The combination of slightly recessed subdials, applied hour markers, and the sloped flange ring gives the BR 05’s dial a welcome and handsome sense of depth. While you can opt for a more classic black-dial version, this blue-dial version of the BR 05 Chrono further delights with the dynamic way the dial color plays with the light and goes from deep midnight to glossy ocean blue. One of the interesting surprises when wearing the BR 05 case on the available (and lower-priced) rubber strap is how much I like it — not only how it feels but how it looks. Visually, the lack of a bracelet actually enhanced visual attention to the case, while also emphasizing its squareness and unique looks. It all sort of blends together when on the matching steel bracelet. Thus, wearing a Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Green Steel on a strap or a bracelet makes for an entirely different style experience. There is also the matter of simple comfort. The tapering rubber strap is closed with a comfortable fold-over steel push-button deployant clasp. This combination of elements makes for extremely comfortable wearing experiences, as proven to the watch industry by Hublot. Now Bell & Ross has built a product that not only has an available Gerald Genta-style bracelet but also a luxury sports watch rubber strap option. Good for Bell & Ross — because this wearing experience is not really found elsewhere at these price points.
For the first time, Swiss watchmaker Bell & Ross celebrates their partnership with the Alpine F1 racing team with their urban-inspired BR 05 watch collection. The brand has elected the chronograph variant of the sports watch, combining its integrated architecture with the blue livery of the motorsport team. Meet the new Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch…
Bell & Ross is best known for its association with aviation, creating cockpit instruments and pilot’s watches for military personnel. In more recent years however, the luxury watch brand has begun making their mark within the world of motorsport. They originally announced a partnership with the Renault F1 racing team back in 2016 and in turn released several special edition and limited edition watches in collaboration with the team. Then in 2021, the Renault F1 squad changed its name to the Alpine A1 team and so a whole new set of Bell & Ross A521 watches were launched. Over the last two years, the collection has continued to grow with each design boasting the bold blue attire as seen on the Alpine team’s attire. For the first time however, the collection introduces a design based upon Bell & Ross’ popular BR 05 integrated sports watch.
David Gendry, VP Sponsoring, Partnerships and Communications at Alpine speaks on the partnership: “When it comes to our partnership with Bell & Ross, our philosophy is one of style and performance. We work in a high-pressure environment where precision and performance are essential to deliver results. Wearing a Bell & Ross watch is not only a constant reminder of our goals, but also an integral part of how we achieve them: through precision, punctuality and reliability”.
Bruno Belamich, Co-founder and Creative Director of Bell & Ross, also adds: “This year, the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch completes the series of Alpine timepieces, subtly adopting its colour code while perfectly meeting the needs of the team’s drivers. But beyond style and colourways, above all, we are designing a tool that serves the driver: an ally at all times… The choice of chrono movement meets the needs of Team Alpine, who are of course measuring speed and sports performance. Bell & Ross conveys the Alpine identity in each of its designs through the colour code and logo.”
The Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch fulfils much of the same specification as previous BR 05 Chrono watches, reaffirming its sporty chic nature with a 42mm stainless steel case with integrated lugs and straps, a rounded square bezel and a flat chronograph pushers. The steel architecture presents alternate polished and satin-finished surfaces for elegant reflections of light and features a screw in crown with large crown guards and a screw down sapphire crystal exhibition case back for a 100 metre water resistant rating. The case also lies at 14.25mm in height.
It’s predominantly the dial of the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch where the newness takes place. The dial is generously adorned in electric blue accents to honour the livery of the racing team. A blue tachymeter scale is added around the edge of the smooth black dial to pair with blue hands for the central chronograph seconds and 30 minutes totaliser. The two subsidiary dials for the small seconds and 30 minutes chronograph counter are outlined in recessed silver tracks, blending nicely together with the large silvered Arabic numerals and central hours and minutes hands with added Superluminova. Additional references to the Alpine F1 racing team are included to the central chronograph hand with its A-shaped counterweight and beneath the lettering for “Automatic Chronograph” at 6 o’clock, where the French flag is incorporated.
Powering the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch is the self-winding mechanical BR-CAL.326 calibre with hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, central chronograph seconds, 30 minutes counter at 3 o’clock and date functions. It also delivers 25 jewels, a frequency of 28,800vph and a power reserve of 38 hours. The Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch is completed by the iconic BR 05 integrated bracelet or a black calfskin leather strap with sporty blue stitching and lining. Both straps are completed by satin-polished stainless steel folding buckles.
The Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 watch is limited to 500 pieces and retails at £6,100 on the leather strap and £6,500 on the metal bracelet. You can learn more about this new release and order both models on the Jura Watches website here. Alternatively, get in touch with the team by calling 01335 453453 or send us a message at
For the 10th edition of Only Watch on November 2023 in Geneva, French luxury watchmaker Bell & Ross is bringing along an eye-popping variation of its iconic BR 03 timepiece, the Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Rainbow. I don’t believe I have seen a BR 03 this colorful before.
The Cyber Rainbow is an audacious, unique, and unique innovative timepiece that brings a multicolored take to an original and futuristic design exclusively for the 2023 edition of Only Watch.
The Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Rainbow for Only Watch 2023 features a full 3D skeleton movement and an oscillating weight. The bridges, which are made from DLC micro-blasted metal, boast pockets filled with varnish while the micro-blasted metal hands are enhanced with white SLN for optimal legibility.
It has a unique black DLC titanium case with colored varnished pieces, “meticulously applied using a specialized process” and is paired with a rubber strap that has been varnished with a soft and colored material.
This unique strap design together with the case creates a consistent mosaic pattern that seemingly emanates out from the center of the watch. Colorful does not quite resonate with futuristic but in the case of the Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Rainbow it kind of does. Speaking of the center of the watch, it has color bridges with the same mosaic pattern.
For this one-of-a-kind timepiece, a specially developed caliber is responsible for the clockwork that features a self-winding system that provides a reliable power reserve of 48 hours.
The Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Rainbow will be auctioned off at the 10th edition of Only Watch which will take place on November 05, 2023, at 2 PM (CET), in Geneva. I honestly don’t know what’s going on with this watch but I don’t think that matters. Aimed at November’s Only Watch auctions, this wild, rainbow BR 03 features a skeletonized movement and a completely rainbowed-out face and band. The band itself has color embedded into it to minimize the transition between the case and the band.
Bell & Ross has given its BR 05 GMT dual timer a fresh sky-blue sunray dial and complementary home time zone hand.
Like the rest of the family, the watch has an internal 24-hour bezel divided into light daytime blue and shaded night time silver periods.
The French watchmaker is keen to talk about its urban styling, but with the GMT it also wants to appeal to people rediscovering travel after the pandemic. “The new Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT Sky Blue is dedicated to experienced travellers as well as city dwellers who dream of far-away horizons,” the company hints. The 41mm stainless steel four-hander with date runs off a Sellita-made BR-CAL.325 automatic calibre, which can be seen through an exhibition case back.
It is water resistant to 100 metres, and can be worn on either a pale blue rubber strap or satin brushed steel bracelet.
Dedicated to travellers as well as city dwellers who dream of far-away horizons, the Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT Sky Blue watch is now available in a new Sky Blue dial version.
Boasting a blue-tinted dial and the emblematic round within the square case, this sport chic dual time wristwatch draws its effectiveness from Bell & Ross’ experience in designing and producing instruments for professionals. Designed for travelling, it offers contemporary globetrotters a clear and simple display of a second time zone thanks to a fourth hand.
For perfect readability, this hand with a large white arrow-shaped tip instantly indicates the time of the country of origin thanks to a 24-hour graduated inner bezel. This flange is enhanced by a two-tone treatment, sky blue and silver, satin-brushed and rhodium-plated, making it possible to immediately tell the difference between the hours of day and those of the night. The hands and rhodium-plated baton-shaped indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova. Another noteworthy feature, the date, appears in a rectangular window at 3 o’clock, surrounded by metal. Inside this timepiece beats the BR-CAL.325 calibre, a self-winding mechanical GMT movement based on a Sellita movement. The sapphire caseback offers the view of the specific finishes of this calibre and the 360° rotations of the oscillating weight. To guarantee water resistance up to 100 metres, the crown is screwed in, making the watch perfectly versatile for daily use. The Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT Sky Blue is available with two types of straps. The first is a stainless-steel bracelet, which fits perfectly into the 41 mm wide case. Its satin finishes and the ergonomics of its articulated links not only make it very comfortable but also contribute to making this watch a piece of contemporary design. The second is a blue rubber strap, perfectly matching the tint of the watch, reinforcing its bluish tone. It has a steel folding clasp for added comfort and security.
Parisian brand Bell & Ross was founded in 1992 with a shared vision of functional and tough watches. It has a long history of military-inspired watches, but also watches issued for special forces, squadrons, astronauts, the French Naval Air Force or elite squads such as the GIGN and the RAID. In 2021, following the release of several collections purely intended for civilian use, the brand went back to its roots, by announcing its partnership with France’s precision aerobatics demonstration unit, the world-famous Patrouille de France. In order to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the elite unit, Bell & Ross releases the limited edition BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary watch . It felt rather natural that the French Acrobatic Patrol “Patrouille de France” chose French brand Bell & Ross as its official watch partner, following Breitling, which was officially partnering with the Patrol since 2017 but actually made some watches with this team already since 1993. The Patrouille de France is one of the world’s most famous precision aerobatics demonstration unit. Born in 1953 but active since 1931 under different names, this elite unit under the control of the French Air and Space Force (the Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) is the oldest of its kind and is considered one of the best in the world. The patrol’s mission is to perform aerial displays consisting of precision aerobatics, such as the opening of the Bastille Day military parade in Paris. The squadron is composed of 9 pilots and 35 mechanics. They have for mission to maintain and repair the 12 Alphajet planes assigned to the unit. Back in 2021, the partnership was announced and it already gave birth to two dedicated models; the BR 03 Type A with digital display (a specific request of the pilots) and the BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary watch . The third special edition model has now been released and pairs traditional Bell & Ross codes with flamboyant French colours and unique design elements to celebrate 7 decades of precision aerobatics. The choice for the new watch dedicated to the Patrouille de France is the most classic of models from Bell & Ross, the BR 03-92. Also known as the instrument line, it comes in the signature case (the circle within a square) with 4 functional screws, directly modelled after vintage dashboard instruments. Measuring 42mm x 42mm, with a reasonable height of 10.40mm, it is here presented in a stealthy version, with a matte, microblasted ceramic case. The back has been decorated with the silhouettes of the 5 aircraft that have flown since the creation of the Patrouille de France in 1953 – Thunderjet, Ouragan, Mystère IV, Fouga Magister and Alphajet. The dial of this BR 03-92 Patrouille de France also pays tribute to the acrobatic patrol, with a particularly luminous shade of blue, evoking the colour of the Alpha Jet of the BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary watch – which you could name Bleu France. The matte background is home to multiple highly contrasting white elements, such as the large luminous Arabic numerals and markers, as well as oversized white-SLN-coated hands. The insignia of this elite display team and the specific logo of its 70TH anniversary appear at the heart of this dial, which unfortunately still retains its date window… Powered by the Calibre BR-CAL.302, a Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement, this BR 03-92 Patrouille de France is delivered with two straps; a tone-on-tone leather strap with French stitching and a steel PVD-coated pin buckle, and a black synthetic canvas fabric strap.
French watch manufacturer, Bell & Ross, has been supplying the French air force (and recently the space force) with outstanding pilot watches since it was founded in 1992. In 2016, the company launched a partnership with the Renault Sport 1 Formula Racing team, making limited edition watches. The square case BRs have been the most popular designs from Bell & Ross, whether they were designed with racers, pilots, or divers in mind. Speaking of pilots, The Patrouille acrobatique de France (or French Acrobatic Patrol for you yankees) is an aerobatic show similar to the Navy Blue Angels here in the US, and it’s celebrating its 70th birthday. To mark this occasion and the French Air Force’s history with Bell & Ross, the BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary watch has been announced.
One might only associate Bell & Ross with aeronautical watches, but they’ve been making diving watches for some time now. In fact, I think these are some of the coolest-looking diving watches that don’t have a round case. The big and chunky square case lends itself very well to the diving watch theme, which is about thick watches with high levels of pressure resistance. There’s less need to hold back with diving watches, and Bell & Ross’ 2022 models show us that they are aware of this.
The BR 03-92 Diver White and BR 03-92 Diver Brown Bronze have exceptionally clear dials thanks to the high contrast between the dial plates, the hands and the markers. A square Bell & Ross pilot’s watch typically has some large numerals and extensive hands smothered in white lume. On the bronze model, these hands and markers are rose gold plated. It’s nice to see that they went with round markers and more subtle hands for both watches, although there’s still plenty of lume on both. There’s also an unobtrusive date window, but I wonder whether it’s particularly legible in person.
The watches are available in one size only, and that size is 42mm x 42mm x 12.05mm. The white dial option (which is more silvery than white) comes with a stainless steel case, while the brown version comes with a solid bronze case. Bronze is something Bell & Ross has been doing for years, and, like Panerai, they make it work well. I remember trying out a skull watch in bronze several years ago when we covered the opening of their boutique in the Burlington Arcade, London. Both cases are water-resistant to 300m. Both watches come with a couple of straps. You get a black rubber strap and a super-durable synthetic fabric strap for the steel version. For the bronze, you get a brown calfskin leather strap and a black rubber strap too.
Inside these watches is a Sellita SW 300-1, which Bell & Ross modifies to their needs and then calls the BR-CAL.302. The BR-CAL.302 offers a power reserve of 38-hours and an accurate 4Hz beat rate. Our readers were quite harsh on Bell & Ross in the comments section of our recent hands-on review. I wonder what they’ll think of these.
Introduced in 2017, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver is not the brand’s first dive watch, but it is the first dive watch in their iconic square case. It is, in my opinion, a great success in balancing various design elements and themes as well as boldness and wearability. “Balance” is a word that I kept returning to when considering different aspects of the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver. The result is a solid, refined dive watch with a look and character quite unlike any other I know of, and it is just plain fun to wear.
No matter how good, satisfying, or original a brand’s watches are, a genuinely “iconic” model is something most watch brands will never be able to convincingly claim – by its very nature the term can be accurately applicable to only a limited number of watches. I try to avoid even using the word, but I think many watch enthusiasts will agree that Bell & Ross’ square-cased, aviation-themed watches based on the dashboard instruments of old airplanes will qualify. The design is strongly associated with and rooted in aviation, but Bell & Ross has branched out to plenty of other genres or styles with the square case as the foundation. While the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver could get lost among so many other variations on the theme, taken alone it is successful as a compelling dive watch.
There are several Bell & Ross collections that use essentially the same basic case design but in different sizes (and each with different models). The BR 01 is a wrist-eclipsing (for me, anyway) 47mm, the BR 03 like the one reviewed here is 42mm, and the BR S is 39mm. The BR X watches are Bell & Ross’ “Experimental” collection that also use some variation of the square case but with generally more elaborate constructions, avant-garde designs, and haute complications (hands-on example here with the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor). There are divers in other collections – and there have been more in the past, such as the BR 02 – but, again, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver is the first diver in the square case.
You will have to be the final judge as to whether Bell & Ross got it right with the BR 03-92 Diver – and I recommend you try it on first – but my judgement after wearing it almost daily for a couple weeks is that they did. The Bell & Ross case is immediately identifiable as such, but the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver is also just a serious-looking dive watch. It further manages to play the part of a bold-wearing luxury sport watch with an aggressive presence – and at the same time, it looks purposeful and down-to-earth, so the wearer doesn’t look like he’s desperate for attention. Finally, despite that boldness and presence, its size and dimensions somehow keep it surprisingly wearable. At least, these have been my impressions while wearing it.
About those dimensions: Looking at the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver on the wrist, one might not guess that it measures only 42mm wide. It might be a weird or abstract thing to say, but I would describe the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver as wearing more like a 44mm-wide watch. Square cases are going to wear larger than their measurements would suggest – if you are familiar with watch measurements and have a habit of guessing how a watch might fit you based on pictures and specs before seeing it in person. Perhaps a corner-to-corner measurement is a good way of evaluating the size of a square watch because that may better represent how much wrist real estate it occupies. I really made an effort to portray in some of the photographs how well it wears on my 6.5″ (17cm) wrist – though I probably couldn’t pull off even a millimeter larger.
Bell & Ross have always been a watchmaker to avoid conventionality. Even their most traditional looking timepieces are square-shaped with perfectly round dials interrupting at the centre. A family from the Swiss manufacturer that disrupts convention more than any other is their Skull collection. Every few years, Bell & Ross launches one of these limited edition Skull watches to prove their prowess with avant-garde techniques. The latest to join the ultra-modern collection is the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica watch.
The first Bell & Ross Skull watch was launched in 2019 offering the framework of their BR 01 model with a skull-shaped dial, four bones leading out to the iconic four case screws and hands mimicking pirate swords. Ever since, this limited edition has been followed by multiple iterations in different materials and with different complications including a tourbillon model in 2011 and the first bronze edition in 2015. One of the most significant out of the lot remains the BR 01 Laughing Skull watch introduced in 2018 which debuted Bell & Ross’ first ever automaton movement. This meant that as you wound the movement, the jaws of the skull appeared as if it was laughing. Then three years ago in 2020, the luxury watch brand changed things up again with the original Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull watch. This futuristic design used ceramic and sapphire crystal to make it appear as if the skull and bones was floating in mid-air, with the manufacture movement perfectly adapted to hide behind it.
The new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica watch copies the architecture of the 2020 Cyber Skull watch but instead incorporates a new material, the patina-pending metal of bronze. The entire case, crown and pin buckle are engineered from this alloy (CuAI7Si2) which is ultimately a blend of copper and tin. Like other bronze watches, the limited edition will acquire a unique patina over time, changing colour and texture and becoming completely bespoke to the wrist it sits upon.
As before, there’s a departure from the more traditional square-shaped case with four screws at each corner. Instead, the case is insanely modern with a faceted structure for a sleek and futuristic look. Bell & Ross describe the style of the case to be “reminiscent of the angular fuselage of a stealth aircraft”, revealing the same mass of angles and facets which reduce the radar signature of the plane. The almost-square case is disrupted by angles in the corners and measures to 45mm by 46.7mm in diameter and 13.70mm thick. The Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica Limited Edition is finished by faceted sapphire crystal glass on top.
Joining the warmth of the new bronze case, the skull-shaped dial of the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze watch is finished in rose gold-plating. The skull and crossbones appear as if they are floating between the two sheets of sapphire crystal but are in fact cleverly secured by four matching rose gold plated screws at each corner, fixing the skull to the movement behind it. The movement has been immaculately developed to fit almost perfectly in line with the skull with just subtle elements like the barrel at 6 o’clock and certain gear trains visible. The main element on show is the spiral balance wheel at 12 o’clock which is designed to symbolise the brain of the skull full of life. At the centre of the dial is two gilt hands for the hours and minutes dressed in Superluminova inserts.
The Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica Limited Edition still maintains its automaton mechanism which sees the jaw of the skull come to life when you manually wind the movement. The jaw moves up and down as if it is laughing at you and when it unwinds, it gives you a clearer view of the barrel behind it. The movement used is the Calibre BR-CAL.210 with a frequency of 28,800vph and a power reserve of 50 hours. Finally, the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze watch is completed by a 50 metre water resistant rating and a black rubber strap with bronze pin buckle.