The next thing that catches all of your eye is probably the brilliant white dialup, which is really lacquer – an unusual dial cloth for Bell & Ross watches. What’s also unusual is that the use of Roman numerals, railroad-style indexes, and blued pear-shaped hands, which pays homage to marine clocks of yesteryear. These design elements give the dial an amazing charm, but it takes getting used to because the BR 01 situation is usually associated with aviation-inspired layouts, which are inclined to be more modern. Nevertheless, it’s a harmonious appearance, and I especially like the blued steel hands and the whiteness of the lacquer dial.There’s a subdial for the running moments at 6 o’clock, also at the center of this subdial it reads CAL. 203. That is a reference to this calibre BR-CAL.203 that beats within. It is visible through the event back, and it’s a hand-wound mechanical motion. The choice of a hand-wound motion is apt since marine clocks of yesteryear were also manually wound. It beats at 3Hz and features a suitably long energy reserve 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 different watches. It appears really industrial, and if I were to nitpick, I’d have preferred a much more elaborately decorated motion to suit the rest of the watch. Since it is, the dial of the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is definitely more complicated than most of Bell & Ross’ other offerings, also I feel a more classically decorated motion with chamfered bridges, Côtes de Genève, or perlage are more suitable.The new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine marks an interesting departure from the brand’s customary aviation-inspired pieces, and the end result is definitely interesting, if not attractive. I don’t think everybody will be a fan of it, 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 a fun alternative, as it mixes the classic look of marine-inspired watches together with Bell & Ross’ signature BR case. If you enjoy the look of it, you’d best hurry since the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is limited to only 500 pieces.
For a single day, myself and 22 other far-more-qualified watch fans closely examined 71 watches in 14 groups, constituting the entire world of watchmaking from the $3,100 non-complication Tudor Black Bay into some woman’s tourbillion produced by Bovet that retails for over $200,000. Of all the watches that I saw, one which actually 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 produce as poor layout. It just takes some heart and soul to make it truly mean something. Better stuff cost more, sure, but a pad printer will put whatever style letter on a dial that you let it. As soon as an economical (though dependable) Swiss ETA movement is involved, as is the case with this BR126, most 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 good design barrier on watches in this level. We’ve seen brands like Omega and Panerai experiment with an artificial patina effect, but the BR126 claws the “aged luminous” look on its own hour markers and hands. If you’ve ever spent time staring at a vintage Sea-Dweller or Submariner, then you’ll appreciate how persuasive this looks. And in addition to adding some historical realism, in addition, it sets the tone for the rest of the watch concerning its colour palate: subdued, timeless, and cool.
Gerald Genta-style palms and fitting hour markers are tastefully placed on the upper part of the movement bridge. These hands and hour markers have been made somewhat distinctive due to their size and coloration. While they are full of Super-LumiNova luminous material, I feel that the satin-finishing of this hands blends in a bit too much with the dial so as to have ideal contrast for outstanding legibility. The watch is rather legible once you look carefully at it, but as is the case with many “artistic and complex” watches, legibility stands back a little in favour of pure aesthetic expression.Looking in the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic instance from several angles permits you to enjoy the interesting detailing and beveled edges of the sapphire crystal case top and rear. Clearly, the situation is inspired by Bell & Ross’ now iconic BR01 and BR03 set of square-cased watches. That said, the case is really a completely new dimensions, even though it is founded upon the BR03 – which can be 42mm wide. The Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is 42.5mm broad, so that’s only a small difference.There are lots of ways in which a design such as this could have gone wrong – but I credit Bell & Ross’ serious attention to design detail for creating something like the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic function as well as it will. I think it needs a mix of insisting on different design components (including the hour track ring on the dial to help emphasize the watch face) and restraint rather than adding too much to the total situation and movement design.Best of all, using its 42.5mm-wide square instance and thin profile, the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is a fairly comfy timepiece which makes it completely suitable for daily wear. This introduction model (I’ve a feeling that this is a theory Bell & Ross will go back to in decades to come) is put on a tapered light gray alligator strap. What I think is most striking about the general look of the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is that it’s decidedly a lookout for mechanical movement fans, but is able to keep a manly sex appeal and does not appear nerdy (as concepts like this tend to do).
The BR126’s dial color-way borrows most heavily from the Rolex “black/custard/red” combination from the “reddish” Submariner 1680. It will not win any awards for innovation outright, but then again, choosing the best features of designs from the past and building them in near-perfect stability isn’t something you see daily. I especially adore the domed crystal, which adds to the classic look by slightly distorting the edges of the minute trail from different angles. The muted dial includes the contrasting red “100 M” thickness rating print, which some purists can find more blasphemous than harmonious, because the watch is a pilot’s view in all other respects.What’s interesting about a watch with a date attribute is that the dial could be cut to reveal the day of the month anywhere around the number wheel. The date aperture is put between the 4 and 5 o’clock hour mark, the only element of this design that is not a historical throwback but a rather a nod to the other chronographs in the Bell & Ross line.The bezel is extremely timeless appearing, and also very smart. Borrowing the ultra-simple minute numbers and hashes from old dive watches of the 50s and 60s, you’d believe you’re looking at an old plastic bezel insert which was kept in pristine state; after all, every bezel with this type face and design was created from some sort of epoxy or celluloid. Not this watch. Just really thoughtful design on a simple, flat metal ring.
For a single day, myself and 22 other far-more-qualified watch fans closely examined 71 watches in 14 categories, spanning the full world of watchmaking from the $3,100 non-complication Tudor Black Bay into some woman’s tourbillion made by Bovet that retails for over $200,000. Of all of the watches that I saw, one which really stood out to me was the Bell & Ross BR126 Sport Heritage Chronograph. An entry in the Sport Watch class, The Sport Heritage Chronograph didn’t take home an award at the ceremony, 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 have discovered in my years as both an artist and also a watch collector: excellent design costs the same to make as bad layout. It just takes some heart and soul to make it really mean something. Better materials cost more, sure, but a pad printer will put all those style letter on a dial you let it. When an economical (though reliable) Swiss ETA movement is involved, as is true with this BR126, many watch companies begin from a point of resignation and don’t even attempt to do something genuinely rewarding. Bell & Ross appeared past the price point on the Sport Heritage and really broke the good design barrier on watches at this level. We’ve seen brands such as Omega and Panerai experimentation with an artificial patina effect, but the BR126 claws the “outdated luminous” look on its hour markers and hands. If you have ever spent some time staring at a vintage Sea-Dweller or Submariner, then you will appreciate how convincing this looks. And along with adding some historical realism, it also sets the tone for the remainder of the watch in terms of its colour palate: subdued, timeless, and cool.
During BaselWorld this year, photographer Bert and I were visiting the Bell & Ross booth and one of the watches that made us very enthusiastic was this World War 1 Chronographe Monopoussoir Heritage. I am sure you’ve seen it here or here for example.
The kind people of Bell & Ross showed us the entire new collection, but we had our hopes for this one, the WW1 Mono pusher chronograph. Drop dead gorgeous with its wire lugs, large dial, yellow-ish numerals and a nice ‘new’ patina on the dial. With a retail price of approx $7500 USD it was quite firm for today’s critical buyer, or should I say buyer in critical times? Nevertheless an awesome watch that makes a great alternative for some other big label brands.
Anyhows, how come we don’t see it in the flesh? Is the 1920s style too dandy for most people? We love the WW1 Chronographe Monopoussoir for the reasons mentioned above, as it really stands out from the crowd.
A good reason might be that it hasn’t been covered enough and it is still a hidden treasure only known to those who are somewhat more deeper into watches than average. The Bell & Ross WW1 Chronographe Monopoussoir deserves more attention in our opinion, with its wonderful and clean dial lay-out (30 minutes counter at 3 o’clock and 60 seconds counter at 9 o’clock) and 1 button operated chronograph mechanism.
This watch has a pilot-worthy diameter of 45mm, an automatic mono-pusher chronograph movement and a great looking gold-braun leather strap with superb stitching.
More detailed information at the official Bell & Ross website and don’t forget to visit the Bell & Ross Forum over at Watchuseek.