There are more than a half a million kilometers of coastline in the world with over 2 billion people living within earshot of stated coastline — and somebody’s got to keep ’em all protected. The Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes watches observe the women and men of the world’s many branches of the Coast Guard who do just that, using a pair of sporty and competent watches that look and feel as though they’re easily around the task.Now, in the event the V2-92 and V2-94 Garde-Côtes editions look eerily like the recent vintage-inspired V1-92 & V2-94 Bellytanker pill watches that’s OK — Bell & Ross supposed to do this. The ‘Vintage’ (delineated from the ‘V’ here) collection includes a consistent layout purpose and aesthetic, that has been demonstrated to be quite popular for its French manufacturer, so naturally we had been bound to see a few more color treatments to the original three-dimensional options introduced earlier this year.Each measuring a more traditional 41mm, both the V2-92 and also the V2-94 come in considerably smaller compared to Bell & Ross’ square-shaped 46mm BR 01, whose tool panel inspiration has become a signature of this brand. And thanks to this one-two punch of a slender profile and a stylish, vintage-inspired aesthetic, the conservative silhouette works particularly well on a wide selection of wrists too — something that should really appeal to anyone searching for an inoffensive, yet sporty alternative to the comparable, yet equally outstanding Diver 65 out of Oris.At the asking price for Bell & Ross however, you do start to see subtle embellishments standard with watches of this price point: things like beveled hands, a sloping date window cutout, and snailed and brightly sub-dials on the chronograph. You also receive a very liberally domed sapphire crystal, along with an exhibition caseback that conveys a marginally non-specific Coast Guard motif that also marginally obscures a clear look at the finishing on the motion inside. For your V2-92 3-hand option, you are looking at an automatic BR-Cal. 302, that is basically a modified Sellita SW300-1, also on the V2-94 chronograph, the motion is Bell & Ross’ Cal. 301 — a altered ETA-2894-2.
The very first thing that strikes you about the brand new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is the fact that it features the iconic BR 01 case – the case which we all know and adore. But look closer and you will realize that not all is what it seems. In fact, the instance is assembled using three distinct unconventional materials.To start with, the big 46mm-wide case, bezel, and crown are created using bronze. The choice of bronze is clear as it’s the metal that is most correlated with the sea. In the event you don’t already understand, bronze is widely utilized in marine applications because it obviously creates a patina which protects the inherent bronze metal from corrosion. Look nearer, and around the periphery of the circumstance is a band made from rosewood. Like wood, bronze is another substance closely associated with the sea. And ultimately, the situation back is made of ceramic -, a material ideal for marine applications as it is highly resistant to corrosion. It is also hypoallergenic, making it great for touch with skin as bronze has the propensity to blot skin.The situation is professionally and satisfactorily finished, along with the design is just one that we have all come to know and adore. It’s a simple layout, but it’s powerful and very appealing. And while it may be a big square case, it isn’t too thick, so it wears rather well on the wrist. The wearing comfort was also assisted by the comfortable brown alligator strap. The strap includes a matching bronze buckle, which can be a wonderful touch. Nevertheless, I believe that the big Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine case functions best on owners with chunkier wrists.
Bell & Ross is not only producing the rectangular aviation watches, but also has a fine collection of other models like the vintage series and the WW1 and WW2 collection (covered here and here). For me personally, the Vintage BR collection is very attractive as they offer very clean round watches at an interesting price point. Today, I will show you the Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H that Bell & Ross sent us just before the holidays.
Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H
During a diner with Bell & Ross not too long ago, they showed me a number of new models that were either just released or about to be released. One of the watches that drew my attention was this Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H. Quite a mouth full, but in fact is a very modest and clean-looking timepiece with one of the most important complications for mechanical watches – a second time zone.
Recently we featured this Bremont ALT1-WT World Timer that basically does the same as this GMT watch, indicating another time zone using an extra hour hand. However, where a World Timer watch like the Bremont has a dial filled with information about 24 different cities in 24 time zones (and a chronograph in this case), the Bell & Ross Vintage 123 GMT is a more modest timepiece that has much more the presence of a ‘tool watch’.
I won’t be insulting anyone or any brand if I write here that this Bell & Ross Vintage BR GMT seems to be inspired by the Rolex Explorer II Steve McQueen model. Even though the case shape and size are different, the beautiful matt finished 24 hour bezel and large orange 24 hour hand are clearly inspired by it. The dial with the large Arabic numerals reminded me of the 36mm Rolex Explorer (reference 114270) that my wife wears regularly.
In any case, it doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. On the contrary I’d say. The design is very likeable and you could say it’s a ‘proven design’ as well. The size is very comfortable on the average men’s wrist (42mm). The case has no crown guard, which I applaud, and has a satin brushed finish. The lugs of the watch are nice and edgy without becoming too sharp to wear. Some watches with sharp lugs have the tendency of sticking into the top of your wrist but in this case it is all good.
The watch comes on this weave rubber strap that doesn’t only look amazing, it also feels great on your wrist. It also remind me a bit of these old tropical straps that were used on diver watches long time ago.
As you can see above, the buckle is beautifully (matt brush) finished and features the BR logo. The rubber strap has a nice soft inside and is marked Bell & Ross.
The second time zone is very easy to set. You pull the crown into position one, and now you can either set the date by turning it counter clockwise or setting the 24 hour indicator by turning it clockwise. The crown is beautifully finished with the B&R logo.
The movement is something that remains unmentioned in the press release or on the Bell & Ross website, but it is clearly based on an ETA 2893 movement. I am not sure why it isn’t mentioned on the website, as it would be one of my first questions to ask. Anyhows, good choice to use this movement. It is a movement with quite a track record and based on the good ol’ 2892-A2 with a GMT module.
Bell & Ross has a strong feel for design, which also explains the interesting variations in their Aviation collection, and did a very nice job on this Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H. The comments I got when wearing it and when I already put some photos on our Instagram account (@fratellowatches) and Facebook were also very positive. I guess it is just one of those watches that is easy to wear and has a great vintage look while maintaining the current standards when it comes to size. The watch is just very wearable, which makes it a watch with a good potential!
However, most important aspect of a watch is of course the price tag. With a list price of 2700 Euro it is a very interesting timepiece. There are only few watches with a GMT function that have the same appeal as this Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H for this price.
More information and on-line ordering of this watch can be done here. All photos can be clicked for larger versions.