The brand with the ampersand, perfect cockpit attire.
As a youngster I was captured by the dream of space travel. My career path led to more conventional flying and I became a pilot.
My choice of watch is, therefore, predictable, a Bell & Ross because of their ties to aviation and space travel. From the range I chose a BR 03-92 Carbon. The BR 03 echoes the BR01 which is a larger cased watch, but mine is ample in its proportions.
Stratosphere to ocean floor
Bell & Ross’ origins rest firmly in the aviation and space industries and those beginnings underpin design, technical detail, refinements and attention to user requirements.
The design team were originally engaged in meeting the very rigorous precision-led demands in the production of aircraft and space controls where function and design had to be flawless and fit for purpose. The striving for meticulous perfection led the team, within the framework of Swiss watch making tradition, to begin in 1992 to produce watches for those individuals who live on the edge, the professional risk-takers. Their dedication has resulted in a range of watches meeting the stringent demands, not only of the aviator and astronaut, but others who often work in hostile environments and face challenging situations, such as divers and bomb disposal experts. The result has been a diverse collection which has characteristic features which identify them as B & R but also meet the specific demands of the various wearers.
It’s in the name.
Background and tradition are evident in Bell & Ross creations. Envisage an altimeter in early aircraft’s cockpit; look at the other dials arrayed in front of you and you see the face of a Bell & Ross watch. This link to the past is embraced by its naming of the “Heritage” and “Vintage” models. They adopt a more familiar appearance.
Then consider the names and features of others in their range.
Names selected have obvious links to their features, their functions and appearance, and a clear connection with particular roles synonymous with risk, daring and action.
They carry names which sometimes reflect roles such as “Military”, predictably Khaki, and Commando and at other times functions are stressed as with Compass and Chronograph. Occasionally it is the composition, as with Titanium, or the key characteristics, like Big Dial and Power Reserve. Sometimes the colour is the most obvious reason for the name as with Red Radar. They proclaim their identity.
A newcomer has caught my eye
The newly launched BR 03 Blue Ceramic Military Type, which I now covet, presents its credentials in name and appearance. There is that friendly and strong familiar outline, shape and features. Perhaps it is my Air Force past which draws me to its blue strap, case and numerals.
Considering its design, there is the characteristic broad strap bearing the BR imprint, repeated on the fastening. The case is predictably square with the signature four screws set in the corners, bold and uncompromising. The edges of face case and strap are softened in line by the bevelling. This reduces the potential angularity, leaves no detracting edges, smooth to wear. There is a harmony in the design in line and form. Its appearance is modern, almost industrial. Whilst the face is housed in a protective raised border the case is understated in its simplicity.
The face is clear and uncluttered. It states its credentials clearly. It is Bell & Ross, Swiss Made, BR 03-92 Military Type. The font is plain. The date rests in a simple circle. The winder is strongly etched and sturdy. There is no fussiness, no unnecessary elaboration and no gimmicks. The numbers are large, only 3, 6, 9 and 12 appear, the remaining integers identified by a stroke. The hands are solid, clearly visible and covered in a blue photoluminescent coating, striking in appearance against the black dial. For emphasis and clarity the slim sweeping hand almost presents a continuum with the minute lines and minute indicators on the rim of the dial. It too is coated like the main hands.
The movement is self-winding mechanical. It shows hours, minutes, seconds and date. That is its purpose. The dial as stated is black and with a photoluminescent coating. The strap is available in rubber and heavy duty canvas and it is water resistant to 100 meters. The glass is anti-reflective sapphire, lined with a tinted mineral crystal, a contribution to the aesthetics of the design because whilst striking in its boldness, it is handsome in its looks.
A new watch and new headquarters mark the progress of this company. Whilst production is based in Switzerland in a modern factory suited and tailored to production needs, its new headquarters are in Paris in a building with a wonderful Hausmann façade, again tradition and function coming together.
About the author
Clive Girven is an experienced commercial pilot, with a flying career which commenced in the British Royal Air Force flying helicopters.
A keen watch collector, Clive favours watches with an aeronautical theme.
Motorbikes and prestige cars are also close to Clive’s heart, having visited the Geneva Motor Show earlier in 2011, he also had opportunity to view some wonderful wristwatches.
Thank you Clive for a wonderfully informative article from an owner’s perspective.