If traditional dress watches aren't your thing, this is a watch for you!
Bell and Ross are a brand that many regard as long term established players in the watch industry. However, the brand was only set up in the 90s with an aim to bring watches to wrists where function shapes form. This is undeniably apparent when you look at a lot of their original models with aviation dial inspired models that have large, chunky features with a strong emphasis on legibility.
But newer models have taken this initial concept in another direction with a focus on ensuring that the brand DNA is not lost, but carried through into more conventional models, such as this the BR V2-92 Aeronavale…
The Bell and Ross BR V2-92 Aeronavale - What it does
If you think Bell and Ross models such as the B-01 and B-03 probably come to mind. These large square examples use dashboard instruments that you’d normally find in planes for inspiration and essentially transform them into something that can be strapped to the wrist. And you’d be right to think that, it’s those square cased models that are the most recognisable and synonymous with Bell and Ross. If this aesthetic is something you’re after, Bell and Ross are one of the only brands doing it to a high level of quality.
This round cased BR V2-92 uses a more conventional, approachable set up coming in with a width of 41mm, a lug to lug distance of 47.7mm of 12mm. Right away this watch is off to a great start with wonderful wearable dimensions. Interestingly, the case is fully polished. Think of this as the first of many clues that this watch isn’t all it seems on the surface. More on that later…
The polished case was the starter, so now we move on to the main attraction: the dial. Well actually before we jump straight in, the bezel on this watch deserves a bit of attention.
This thin subtle rotating bezel is an anodised metallic blue aluminium with a gilt gold-coloured 60-minute scale. Subtlety really is the name of the game here as bezels can quite easily feel dominating on watches. But this one is minimal with an emphasis on being there when you need it. It’s also bi-directional which is helpful for day to day wear. A nice nod to Bell and Ross' history with pilots watches as well as being clue #2.
And now, the dial. Clean elegance is harder than you might think and the BR V2-92 shows that when it's done correctly and in a thoughtful way, the end result is fantastic. To kick this dial off a metallic blue colour sets the tone, which quickly turns into applied gilt coloured indices for both 3,6 and 9 as well as every other indice. These aren’t just any normal indices though as each is vertically brushed giving off a stunning ‘glow’ when the light is just right. Mix in that sunburst blue dial as well and you’ll be looking at quite the marvel on the wrist (clue #3…). The blue and gold mix of colours here is said to be inspired by the French Navy's uniform hence the name 'Aeronavale'.
As you might expect the hands on the watch equally fall in line on the Bell and Ross with their gilt gold colour and in-offensive design. We can’t help but love a big old seconds hand on a watch as they slowly glide across the dial in a methodical motion with pinpoint accuracy. And yes, we get to experience exactly that with the BR V2-92.
A 4:30 date window normally divides opinion with many of the arguments saying move it to 3 or 6. But this execution has been pulled off incredibly well, it can definitely keep the peace. To start with its round which reduces the footprint and it is also colour matched to the dial, so it is incredibly easy to forget it’s even there until you need it.
Keeping all these dial details secure is an ultra-curved sapphire with AR coating. A curved crystal always adds character to a watch and a sapphire one at that is an even bigger plus.
Early Bell and Ross watches were actually made by Sinn, another well-respected brand who would sign the dials ‘Bell and Ross by Sinn’. Nowadays Bell and Ross watches are made in Switzerland with thanks to the autonomous production at the Chanel manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds. As you may expect then, a swiss movement sits in the BR V2-92, the calibre BR-CAL.302 which is based on the Sellita SW300.
Clue #4 comes in the shape of 100m metres of water resistance on the BR V2-92. We also see some lume on the dial, however, it's only in the hands another hint that this watch is as elegant as it is practical...
This watch was an interesting one to spend some time with as it grew on me as the days ticked away. The combination of metallic blue and gilt gold gives off a sleek, contemporary look for a watch that is easy to confuse as trying to be something it’s not. I have been known to prefer 40mm watches and smaller more often than not, nevertheless, this 41mm watch feels fantastic on the wrist. Sure we’re only talking about a few millimetres here and there, but it makes the difference. And with a thickness of just 12mm, this really is a slender watch with a heightened level of versatility.
There is a lot to admire in this piece, but for me it’s all about the indices with this watch. They expertly have a vertical brushed finished giving off this stunning glow. This watch has that ‘pop’ on the wrist and a lot of that has to do with those indices.
Time to come clean about all of these clues we’ve picked up on throughout the review. What do they all mean? Well, with its rotating bezel and larger indices it might seem that Bell and Ross have gone down the traditional route of making a watch primarily for sports activities, it even has a screw-down crown so it must be, right? Sure but each aspect of the watch has an unexpected twist. That rotating bezel is a bi-directional one with just simple minute markers. The indices are large, but they’re balanced out with the gilt gold colouring, that mysterious glow and the wonderful brushing.
And its enticing sunburst blue dial is hard not to look at. How about that polished case as well? The BR V2-92 is the best of both worlds. Purposeful, sporty aesthetics are at the core of this watch but it is served in a dressy, sophisticated way that is made to be enjoyed regularly. Sometimes you want a watch with a purposeful look but have no interest in dealing with a thicker case, large hands and TMI on the wrist. The BR V2-92 gives you that tool watch taste, with class thrown in. This watch is a fantastic example of how influential colours and material choice can be on a watch. But don't take our word for it, Bell and Ross offer the BR V2-92 in 5 other different colours and styles with each example giving off a very different purpose (check them out here!). This really shows the value in strong design choices.
Replacement Watch Straps for Bell and Ross
To further strengthen our thoughts on the purpose of the watch, Bell and Ross offer it on a leather strap or a president style bracelet. The 3 link style bracelet is a match made in heaven for this watch as the bracelet style strikes a great balance between durability and solid construction with simplicity and charm. The BR V2-92 arrived on the leather strap which almost has a fume style to it with a shiny finish. There is a lot we can do here with a few different straps…
ZULUDIVER 328 Italian Rubber Military Watch Strap in Navy Blue
Let's start with what Bell and Ross are familiar with, practicality. The 328 Rubber is one of our longest-standing products in our range and for good reason. It’s incredibly comfortable, well made, tactile and works with so many watches. A rubber military strap isn’t something you think you need until you try it out and realise what you’ve been missing out on. Here on the Bell and Ross, it works to play with the watches sporty side all while remaining slim and understated. If you want to go all out, you can also swap the hardware to polished to really have a complete look.
ZULUDIVER Iridescent Herringbone Military Nylon Strap in Grey
Let's stick with what Bell and Ross are known for with another military model, this time we’ve gone for the Grey Iridescent to give it a more casual feel. With all the credit going to the use of blue, the watch has a characterful lighthearted side which is why grey is a wonderful colour to bring out. A great option if you’re looking to make your Bell and Ross stand out.
Kington Croco Dress Quick Release Watch Strap in Chocolate Brown
And finally, we have an option that fully embraces the watches beauty and shows it for all to see. The Kington strap has existed in many different versions over the years with this latest option being a little more dressy. This is balanced out though with a matt finish to keep it approachable and versatile for daily wear. The Chocolate Brown is our go-to option for the Bell and Ross as it really allows the dial to take centre stage.
Things we would change
For its intended purpose, we wouldn’t change much if anything on the BR V2-92. Sure we could say change X to make it more like Y but that isn't the point of this watch. There are plenty of styles and colour options in this range so if this one doesn’t quite hit the mark for you, you have many other opportunities to fall in love. As an offering that combines sportiness with elegance, it's a fantastic piece. Not many other watches can pull off this balance this well.
The Bell and Ross BR V2-92 is for those among us who want to share their passion for purposeful tool watches in a meaningful understated way. Be it a daily watch, or an option for when things get a little smarter, the BR V2-92 is versatile enough, attractive enough and elegant enough to take it all in its stride. Like this model but don't want a smarter look? Why not check out the Steel Heritage to highlight that pilots watch DNA. Looking for a sporty, youthful vibe? The Garde Côtes is the one for you. Whatever your style preference the BR V2-92 range has you covered.
We’d like to thank Bell and Ross for sending the BR V2-92 Aeronavale in for review. To find out more and to explore the BRV2 range, click here.