The chronograph has one additional detail exclusive to the Garde-Côtes, not found on another Vintage-series watches: a pulsometer in the aluminum bezel insert for measuring an individual’s heartbeat, rather than the more commonly seen tachymeter scale. But it is a fantastic thematic touch, because let’s be honest — we were not all cut out to be rescue swimmers (in fact, the majority people were not — that the app is proud of its famously higher attrition rate, which rivals that of the Navy SEALs). The Bell & Ross Garde-Côtes collection costs begin at $2,900 for the 3-handed BR V2-92 about the rubber strap, and jumps to $4,300 for its bi-compax chronograph variant.Though likely best known for its more affordable, instrument-inspired pilot and field watches, French watchmaker Bell & Ross continues to assert itself as a great deal more than a one-trick pony, using the most recent addition to its BR-X “Experimental” collection: the crazy Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire.Standouts in this occasionally divisive collection have included the stealthy forged carbon BR-X1 (hands on) along with the more exotic Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic watch (hands-on). Sapphire crystal is more or less scratch-proof, but its hardness has made it particularly hard to utilize in anything aside from very simple contours. Technology and techniques have improved in the last several years, nevertheless, with much more completely sapphire-cased watches, as well as costs for them starting to come down such as using the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire (hands-on) – however they tend to stay more rare and costly even than precious metal instance watches.
For one day, myself and 22 additional 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 to some woman’s tourbillion made by Bovet that retails for more than200,000. Of all the watches that I saw, one which actually stood out to me was the Bell & Ross BR126 Sport Heritage Chronograph. An entry in the Sport Watch class, The Sport Heritage Chronograph did not 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 have learned in my years as both an artist and a watch collector: great design costs the same to make as bad design. It simply takes some soul and heart to make it really mean something. Better stuff 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 the case with this BR126, most watch companies begin from a stage of resignation and do not even try to do something truly rewarding. Bell & Ross appeared past the cost point on the Sport Heritage and really broke the fantastic design barrier on watches in this level. We have seen brands like 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 time staring at a vintage Sea-Dweller or Submariner, you’ll appreciate how persuasive this seems. And along with adding some historical realism, it also sets the tone for the rest of the watch in terms of its colour palate: subdued, classic, and cool.
There are over 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 safe. The Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes watches celebrate the men and women of the globe’s many branches of the Coast Guard who do just that, with a pair of sporty and capable watches that look and feel as if they’re readily around the task.Now, if the V2-92 and V2-94 Garde-Côtes variations seem eerily like the recent vintage-inspired V1-92 & V2-94 Bellytanker pill watches that’s OK — Bell & Ross meant to do that. The ‘Vintage’ (delineated by the ‘V’ here) collection includes a constant layout intent and aesthetic, which has been demonstrated to be rather popular for the French manufacturer, so obviously we had been bound to see a few more color treatments to the original three-dimensional options introduced before this year.Each measuring a much more conventional 41mm, both the V2-92 and the V2-94 come in much smaller compared to Bell & Ross’ square-shaped 46mm BR 01, whose tool panel inspiration has become a signature of this newest. And as a result of this one-two punch of a slim profile and a stylish, vintage-inspired aesthetic, the traditional shape works especially well on a huge variety of wrists too — something that should really appeal to anyone searching for an inoffensive, yet stylish alternative to the comparable, yet equally excellent Diver 65 from Oris.At the asking price for Bell & Ross though, you really do start to see subtle vases standard with watches of this cost point: things like beveled palms, a sloping date window cutout, and snailed and recessed sub-dials on the chronograph. You also get a very liberally domed sapphire crystal, along with an exhibition caseback that conveys a somewhat non-specific Coast Guard theme that also slightly obscures a clear look at the finishing about the movement inside. For the V2-92 3-hand choice, you are taking a look at an automated BR-Cal. 302, which is basically a modified Sellita SW300-1, and about the V2-94 chronograph, the motion is Bell & Ross’ Cal. 301 — a modified ETA-2894-2.
BR01 Aviation Collection 2013
Bell & Ross and its iconic BR01 Aviation collection has a few new instruments this year: the Heading Indicator, Airspeed and Climb. Limited to 999 pieces only, although the first 99 pieces are only available in a collector’s box that also contains the BR 01 HORIZON, ALTIMETER and TURN COORDINATOR (introduced in 2012). So basically, there are 900 pieces for sale if you don’t fancy this collector’s box.
BR01 HEADING INDICATOR
The Heading Indicator piece shows the time using rotating discs. Three discs are in place, for hours, minutes and seconds. Bell & Ross made the dial look like the original heading indicator instrument, using the W, E, S and hour indicator (N) on the hour disc. The yellow plane and hour (white and yellow) indices are engraved in (or better: under) the sapphire crystal.
The movement is based on the solid workhorse (since 1982) from ETA, the 2892-A2. The discs are 30 times as heavy as normal hands, so Bell & Ross had to develop new materials and methods to get it all working flawlessly. Its 46mm case is made out of stainless steel with PVD coating.
Personally, we love the Airspeed best in terms of appearance! Mainly due to the use of colors and the cool lay-out of the dial. Just like the BR01 Heading Indicator, the watch has a 46mm PVD coated stainless steel case and an AR coated sapphire crystal. As always, no display back but a heavily engraved caseback instead (which we favor).
Like an original airspeed indicator, where the speed in knots and Mph are graduated, Bell & Ross did a similar thing to the hours, minutes and seconds. The hours being in the center of the watch, followed by the minutes and the seconds in the outer ring of the dial. The colored ring indicates the quarter of an hour, where it normally indicates the level of criticality with regards to airspeed. The luminous dial is very colorful and it will definitely stand out on your wrist, as can be seen below.
The BR01 Airspeed has an ETA2892-A2 based movement inside, just like the Heading Indicator model.
The BR01 Climb, based on the vertical speed indicator in an airplane has a different movement from the others. A movement based on the ETA2897, which features a power reserve indicator. Indicated by a Up & Down arrow, where the reference instrument (the vertical speed indicator) has an Up & Down to indicate the climb speed.
This is perhaps the most basic model of the three new BR01 Aviation models, but we are sure that there are enough Bell & Ross enthusiasts out there who will appreciate this model with its basic appearance. We do. As the only one of the three, this BR01 Climb also features a date window (at 3 o’clock). We are happy to see that the date disc is black with white numerals on it. The dial keeps its nice contrast this way.
All three models have a rubber strap with BR in it. They also come with a heavy-duty synthetic fabric strap. Prices start at 3500 Euro. More information can be found at www.bellross.com.
Photos have been taken during the Baselworld 2013 exhibition, which explains that we didn’t find the time to properly clean the watches. These are our own greasy fingerprints