Bell and Ross are breaking the 'Bell and Ross mould'...
When you think of Bell & Ross it immediately conjures up an extremely specific style of watch, resembling a unit that has been lifted directly from a vintage aircraft cockpit. With the new release BR V2 range that mould has been well and truly broken. Since it was founded 1992 by designer Bruno Belamich and business graduate Carlos Rosillo, Bell & Ross has been passionate about military history and its unique functional and aesthetic archetypes. Flight instruments will always remain a primary source of watchmaking inspiration for its designers however they have re-examined military style with three new different professional watches designed to appeal to modern urban explorers. They are, in turn, inspired by the worlds of Land, Sea and Air.
The Bell and Ross BR V2-93 GMT Blue
The BR V2-93 GMT Blue model can display two time zones with the classic additional 24-hour hand function. It remains an indispensable tool for aircraft pilots and a valued companion for globetrotters. These “tool watches” go back to basics in terms of their design and shape which were influenced by two keywords: functionality and legibility. The contemporary design of the BR V2-93 GMT Blue - perfectly suited to 21st-century travellers - places it at the heart of the modern era.
Its 41-mm round steel case is characteristic of the Vintage series, with integrated protection for the screw-down crown. With a galvanic blue case-back featuring a sunray pattern, the dial is a nod to the world of golden era transatlantic air trips, while the second-hand counterweight is subtly styled in the shape of an aircraft. The bi-directional rotating bezel in two-tone anodised aluminium means the time in a second-time zone can be read instantly thanks to the fourth hand with its prominent red arrow. For optimal legibility, the four faceted hands and the decal indices and numerals boast a photoluminescent coating in white Super-LumiNova.
The Bell and Ross BR V2-92 Military Green
With the BR V2-92 Military Green, the philosophy of “essential should never give way to the superfluous” is foremost. Paying tribute to the men and women on the ground who were the first to use the wristwatch as fundamental instruments for their missions, Bell & Ross has unveiled a sport/civilian version of its BR V2-92 which evokes nature and wide-open spaces. Staying faithful to the military-technical specifications, the anti-reflective matte khaki dial is legible both day and night, the sapphire crystal is scratch-resistant and the Swiss mechanical movement with automatic winding is highly precise and reliable.
To ensure optimal legibility, the BR V2-92 Military Green shares the same lineage as watches from the Bell & Ross “LUM” collection which are treated with green-coloured Super-LumiNova® C3 to maximise their luminescent qualities. Playing on both the discreet nature of the khaki camouflage dial and its functional design, it is aimed at professionals and daily adventurers searching for a timepiece which is robust and timeless. Faithful to lines from the Bell & Ross Vintage collection, its 41-mm round steel case with a crown guard is equipped with a glass dome, and a black bi-directional rotating bezel in anodised aluminium to measure short periods.
The date is displayed in a round window at 4.30 and one of the brand’s signature features is that the khaki disc inside is the same colour as the dial.
BR V2 92/93 Specs:
BRV293-BLU-ST Movement: BR-CAL.303 (ETA 2893-2) automatic mechanical.
BRV292-MKA-ST Movement: BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300-1) automatic mechanical.
Crystal: ultra-curved sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Functions: hours, minutes, central seconds. Date. Water-resistance: 100 metres.
Case: 41 mm diameter. Satin-polished steel. Bi-directional rotating steel bezel with anodized aluminium two-tone ring with 24 hour or 60-minute scale. Screw down crown. Sapphire case-back.
Strap: Grey or khaki and black elastic canvas strap or satin-polished steel.
Dial: Blue Sunray or Khaki. Superluminova® numerals and indices. Skeletonized hour and minute hands filled with Superluminova®.
Buckle: folding for metal bracelet.
Price: In the region of £2,400-£2,600
The Bell and Ross BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze
Hailing from a parallel but quite different design philosophy the new BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze is a limited edition of 999 pieces that combines functionality and elegance while subtly reflecting the prestigious ceremonial uniform of French naval officers. In stabilised CuAl7Si2 bronze (91% copper, 7% aluminium and 2% silicon), its 41-mm case stands out with its distinctive yellow-gold colour. Known for the changing nature that gives it a unique character, bronze provides an unlimited palette of unique shades. Although stabilised, the material will change its tone over time.
The BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze is equipped with a fixed bezel in navy blue anodised aluminium. Its ocean blue dial is decorated with gilt metal indices and numerals and baton-shaped skeletonised hands in white Super-LumiNova for optimal legibility. The functional, ultra-curved “glass box” sapphire crystal reinforces both the classic style of the piece and its resistance. The BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze meets all the criteria of the military-technical specifications intended for such a timepiece but this highly refined chronograph featuring screw-down pushers will appeal to collectors looking for a model with a vintage feel which evokes the Bi-Compax chronographs from the 1960s.
The BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze Specs:
Movement: BR-CAL.301 (ETA 2894-2) automatic mechanical.
Crystal: ultra-curved sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds at 3 o’clock. Date. Chronograph: 30-min timer at 9 o’clock, central chronograph seconds.
Water-resistance: 100 metres.
Case: 41 mm in diameter. CuAI7Si2 bronze. Bezel with anodized blue aluminium ring and 60-minute scale. Screw-down crown and push-buttons. Sapphire case back.
Strap: blue elastic canvas strap.
Dial: blue sunray. Gilded and polished numerals and indices. Satin-polished and gilded skeleton Super-LumiNova®-filled hour and minute hands.
Buckle: satin bronze.
Price: In the region of £4,600 for the Bronze, £3,400 Stainless
A personal perspective
It is difficult to be interested in watches and not be familiar with Bell & Ross. Unlike so many other brands there is nothing in the market that looks like them. Therefore, to make a strategic design decision to move into what could be called more traditional military watch styles is a brave step. And the new BR V2 range is quite a leap from the traditional “cockpit dial” B&R look we are accustomed to.
These three new watches really do herald from a vintage military era yet they look very contemporary and would be equally comfortable in a smart business setting, exploring new land or watching the ocean pass 40,000ft below you as you cross the Atlantic. I am a romantic fan of the golden era of Transatlantic flight, in wonderful aircraft such as the Lockheed Constellation, so the GMT Blue especially spoke to me, I think B&R has perfectly judged the design to pay homage to this period of history. Equally, the Military Green fits the bill and the limited edition Aéronavale Bronze will no doubt become a very sought after model. My only reservation with all three of the watches is the on-trend use of an elastic style military strap. I have struggled with this design in the past so I think I would be looking to replace this with some high-quality leather or a Military Nylon which would complement the design of the watches. An easy fix. In summary, it is refreshing to see Bell & Ross break their mould and create a new design within their portfolio which will enhance it greatly.
To find out more about these models and Bell and Ross, click here.