It will not win any awards for innovation outright, but then again, choosing the best features of designs in the past and building them in near-perfect stability is not something you see daily. I particularly adore the domed crystal, which adds to the classic look by slightly distorting the edges of the minute track from different angles. The muted dial includes the contrasting reddish “100 M” depth score printing, which some purists can find more blasphemous than harmonious, because the watch is a pilot’s watch in all other respects.What’s interesting about a watch with a date feature is that the dial can be cut to show the day of the month everywhere around the number wheel. Here the date aperture is placed between the 4 and 5 o’clock hour mark, the only element of this layout that isn’t a historical throwback but a rather a nod to the other chronographs in the Bell & Ross line.The bezel is very classic looking, and also very smart. Borrowing the ultra-simple minute numbers and hashes from older dive watches of the 50s and 60s, you would believe you’re looking at an older plastic bezel insert that has been kept in pristine condition; after all, every bezel with this kind face and design was created from some sort of epoxy or celluloid. Not this watch. Just really thoughtful layout on an easy, flat metallic ring.
Launched in 1992, Bell & Ross was founded by Bruno Belamich and Carlos Rosillo. The first Bell & Ross models were very similar to those of Sinn Spezialuhren and officially, this collaboration lasted till 2002 (although Bell & Ross made their own models long before that year). Most people who started their interest in watches just recently, probably know the BR Instrument watches best.
In 2005, the first BR instrument was introduced and Bell & Ross clearly have been inspired ever since. They have been introducing various models based on the famous flight panel instruments, including the BR 03-92 that’s now being featured on Fratellowatches. A 42mm glass bead blasted steel case with black carbon powder coating and amazing orange coloured hour markers, logo and hands. The matching Bell & Ross strap with a black carbon powdered steel buckle matches the dial perfectly.
Inside the black case, an ETA2892-A2 movement is ticking away your precious time with 28.800 beats per hour. This movement could be considered commodity, as it is being used by numerous brands who don’t manufacture their own movements. It is a perfect movement, that has proven itself over time (since 1982, when the first version of this movement was introduced). A watch maker can get this movement to run as accurate as it gets with respect to mechanical watches. I didn’t have the time or the equipment at hand to test the accuracy of this particular Bell & Ross movement.
As I wrote above, the strap and clasp are a perfect fit to the case and dial. As you can see, the buckle is quite large but certainly not uncomfortable when wearing or using. The modest BR logo is engraved in the black carbon powdered clasp. The tan coloured strap with white stitches and fabulous & logo will probably become a bit darker when wearing, but just like good Santoni shoes, it will age nicely.
The case back is a bit confusing with all the engraving in it. Especially the screw that you shouldn’t unscrew is very tempting to use your screwdriver on. This screw is to be able to remove the crown, but this should only be done by a watchmaker who knows what he is doing. The engraving further bears some very true but yet irrelevant information, like the fact that it is a stainless steel case, that it has a mechanical automatic movement inside and that it is made in Switzerland. The one thing engraved that is useful, is the water resistance level of this watch. You can use this watch with a Bell & Ross rubber strap as well, and that would make it perfectly useful for a swim.
This rectangular shaped watch is very comfortable on the wrist. Although I could probably handle its bigger brother, the BR 01-92 (which is 46mm), this one sits perfectly on my (large) wrist. The thick luminous hour markers and logo are a joy to glance at when wearing this Instrument watch. The 4 screws in the dial (for attaching/de-attaching the movement) are part of the ‘flight panel’-look and do not disturb me whatsoever. The small round date window is located between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock and keeps the dial very clean.
With a list price of 2800 Euro, it is a very attractive time piece and you probably won’t see another guy wearing it in your office. The price is justified by the craftsmanship of the case, strap and dial. It is all done very well, feels solid and the finish of the various parts is of a high quality. As for comfort, you probably have to try one before you buy it, as not everyone likes a ‘flat’ and rectangular watch on his or her wrist.
Thanks to Watch-Site for lending me this watch. Watch-Site is a reputable on-line watch dealer and has this BR 03-92 (BNIB) for sale for 2155 Euro.