Bell & Ross BR03 Matte Black Ceramic Watch
 

Bell & Ross BR03 Matte Black Ceramic Watch

5 min read
Rob Nudds

Brands

Bell and Ross

Categories

Reviews

Rob Nudds

Brands

Bell and Ross

Categories

Reviews

It’s never a foregone conclusion that a watch case is going to look right in ceramic. While this particular “wonder material” can elevate certain case designs to iconic status, it certainly isn’t for all of them. Some forms need an authentic metallic sheen, or the fluidic swoops and drops only precious metal can truly offer. Others, however, are more than capable of living up to the highly technical expectations of ceramic.

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

 
Regular price
$89.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$89.00 USD
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Black
Best Seller
Regular price
$89.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$89.00 USD
Simple Handmade Italian Leather Watch Strap - Black
Regular price
$63.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$63.00 USD
Radstock Racing Style Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Vintage Black

Bell & Ross hasn’t always made square watches, but they are, by now, the watches for which the brand is best known. Instrument-inspired timepieces are hardly a unique angle on paper, but in practice, Bell & Ross does this better than any brand I know. Most makers hoping to sell you a pilot’s watch will do their best to convince you it has been inspired by the dashboard of a plane (as well it might have been), but few others look as likely to have been ripped off the dash mid-flight and strapped to the wrist. 

Diving watches love to reference depth gauges (at least stylistically), but no example from that category can claim to be a more enjoyable execution than Bell & Ross’s famous Radar-inspired pieces.

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

For a relatively young brand, Bell & Ross enjoys an unusual position having established a case silhouette as entirely its own. Even the Cartier Santos, which possesses perhaps the closest outline amongst similarly luxurious aviation-inspired watches gives itself away with the elegance of its lugs.

The BR03 is, as much as I hate the word, an icon for the brand. It’s undeniable by this point. Will the unusual square case with its four screws, rounded edges, and gleefully functional round display be around in 50 or 100 years? To be honest, by this point, I wouldn’t bet against it. And that’s a massive, massive selling point for these watches.

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

 
Regular price
$89.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$89.00 USD
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Black
Best Seller
Regular price
$89.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$89.00 USD
Simple Handmade Italian Leather Watch Strap - Black
Regular price
$63.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$63.00 USD
Radstock Racing Style Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Vintage Black

What’s the best advice when it comes to buying an icon? Keep it simple. There are loads of indisputably iconic watches in the industry. Just take the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin 222 or Overseas, Cartier Tank, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, Rolex Submariner, Omega Speedmaster, or the TAG Heuer Monaco as a few examples. Now, while the DNA of each of these watches is iconic, there have been unequivocally dreadful versions of each (and many times over).

Buying an AP Royal Oak is rarely a bad idea (if you can afford it), but it is still possible to buy an awful example of an excellent watch. And the whole point of an icon is that it’s time-proof. The watch you buy today will be a watch you want to wear for the same reasons in 20 years. It’s like nothing else. It scratches an itch no other watch can scratch. Those are the watches you want to buy. Those are the watches that most major collectors share in their collections because they are just that good. 

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

And so keeping it simple is everything. The best and most desirable versions of all those icons listed above and all others like them are the ones that express the original purity of the design sans the bells and whistles greedy, trend-obsessed marketers are wont to slap all over these previously pristine trinkets.

When it comes to purity, you don’t get much purer than the Bell & Ross BR03 Matte Black in ceramic. Two colours. Two colours in total. This thing doesn’t even have a steel case back (which is a nice touch, by the way). The watch is black; its dial markings are white. At nighttime, the watch and the darkness surrounding it are black while those numbers blaze a vivid blue (thanks to the high-performance BG1 lume courtesy of Swiss-LumiNova produces RC Tritec). Still two colours. Students of simplicity take note: it doesn’t get much cleaner than this.

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

In fact, while you could make the argument a one-colour watch is possible (Hublot and Jean-Claude Biver, I’m looking at you), it’s not always a good idea (JCB knew this at the time, but he’s too much of a badass to care). This is a pared-back as a highly legible and thus extremely functional object can be while retaining any modicum of design.

So we’ve established the Bell & Ross BR03 is simple. We’ve put forward its candidacy for icon status (measuredly enough, I think). We’ve argued that the BR03 suits being made from matte black ceramic very well. The question is: is it for you?

Black is a funny colour when it comes to fashion and watches. The old adage is that black is slimming. Years ago, I was speaking to a fashion designer who modified that oft-repeated mantra on the back of decades of experience in an industry that commonly believes it to be true:

“Black doesn’t slim,” he said, with the conviction of Moses, “it emphasises.”

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

What he meant by this (if it isn’t clear), is that black will make something small or slim look smaller or slimmer. Similarly, it will make something large look even larger. He even went as far as to nickname the latter phenomenon the “Black Hole Effect” and it stuck with me ever since.

The same is true for watches. If you want to go really big, go really bold. Bright colours. Textures. Facets. These things deflect light or grab attention in a flattering way that turns a potential disaster into a powerful statement.

There are a couple of thumping 45 mm square watches in the B&R catalogue, but the BR03 Matte Black is not one of them. Instead, this new generation model is a relatively demure 41 mm across the horizontal access (as stated on the range page and press release but contradicted currently by the product page measurement, which states 42 mm — we’ll inform Bell & Ross in case they want to clarify that).

Bell & Ross BR03Bell & Ross BR03 - Credit WatchGecko

 
Regular price
$89.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$89.00 USD
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Black
Best Seller
Regular price
$89.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$89.00 USD
Simple Handmade Italian Leather Watch Strap - Black
Regular price
$63.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$63.00 USD
Radstock Racing Style Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Vintage Black

That’s still sizeable for a square watch, of course, with a theoretical corner-to-corner measurement of 57.98 mm and a total wrist coverage of 16.81 square centimetres (softened and reduced respectively, of course, by its rounded corners), but the thickness of this watch is (while a shade thicker than its steel counterparts that come in at 9.65 mm) just 10.6 mm tall on the wrist.

A round watch of a 41 mm diameter under 13 mm is more than manageable, and so while this Bell & Ross BR03 is sprawling, it is, crucially slim.

Better still for the slimmer wristed among us, is the fact that Bell & Ross actually offers a small strap size for anyone with a wrist diameter of 6.3 inches and below. That’s incredibly considerate for a brand that many might assume only caters to beefcake pilots. Clearly, that isn’t so.

Ultimately, I think that this addition to the collection is a smart one. It’s slightly scaled down, entirely in keeping with the brand’s most recognisable aesthetic, and reasonably priced at £3,400. And if it is too big or pricey for your wrist or wallet, there’s always the charming quartz option (the Bell & Ross BR S Black Matte that measures just 39 mm across and 6.8 mm thick and costs just £2,250.

Featured in this Article

Latest News

Rob Nudds

About the Author: Rob Nudds

Rob started working in the watch industry for the Signet Group, aged 17. Following university, he undertook the WOSTEP course at the British School of Watchmaking, developing a keen interest in watchmaking theory. After graduating, he worked primarily for Omega and Bremont before leaving the bench in 2015 to become Head of Sales for NOMOS Glashütte in the UK. After three years of managing an international retail network that grew to encompass 17 countries, he began writing full-time.

Since then, he has written for aBlogtoWatch, Fratello, Time & Tide, Grail Watch, SJX, Get Bezel, Borro Blog, Jomashop, Bob's Watches, Skolorr, Oracle Time, and Revolution USA.

He currently co-hosts The Real Time Show Podcast (www.therealtime.show) with his friend and long-time collaborator, Alon Ben Joseph of Ace Jewelers, Amsterdam, as well as working with several brands as a consultant in the fields of brand building, product development, global retail strategy, and communications. Follow him on Instagram @robnudds.

More Articles from Rob Nudds