Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary

Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary

This detailed review of the Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary includes live pictures, specification and pricing.

Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary - bi-compax chronograph

I was four years old when I first encountered the Renault logo. It was 1972 and my father had taken delivery of a brand new Renault 6 with a ‘push-me-pull-me’ gearbox. At the time, I remember being mightily impressed with our family’s new car and before long I was became the owner of a Renault-branded coat and football. I even remember attending a Renault day at a stately home, watching motorcycle stunt riders navigate rings of fire. Indeed, my Renault indoctrination took place at a very young age.

A few years later, Renault broke onto the Formula One stage with its stupendous turbocharged race cars. Initially, the cars were problematic, but ultimately, with the advent of the R10, the 1.5 litre engine became a byword for performance. Thereafter, the R11, R12 and R14 followed. My hero was René Arnoux and I would savour watching him on Sunday night television, engaging in wheel to wheel combat with Gilles Villeneuve. Formula One was different in this era, cars readily jostled with each other and overtaking was easier, making the races especially entertaining.

This year, Renault Sport is celebrating its 40th anniversary and Bell & Ross has produced a watch to mark the occasion. Could I be tempted to purchase another Renault branded item to add to my collection?

The dial

The black and yellow tones of a Renault Formula One car are replicated on the dial of the BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary. Black dominates the dial vista, while yellow populates the chapter ring. The combination of these two colours proves very agreeable.

Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary - bi-compax chronograph

The hour and minute hands are lined with luminescent material, heightening visibility in dim light.

I have a predilection for bi-compax dials and this particular timepiece sates this horological fetish. A small seconds display is located adjacent the crown, while a 30-minute chronograph register resides opposite. Each subdial is framed with a silver-toned, brushed circlet. A north-south axis provides a line of symmetry, perfectly illustrating the balanced appearance of this high-performance timepiece.

Each hour is signified with a slender white baton, save for 6 and 12 o’clock where Arabic numerals are employed. A round date aperture, positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock, reveals white numerals on a black date disc.

Beneath the fulcrum of the dial, two logos reside. The Renault logo is the same historic trademark I remember from my youth and harks back to the 1970s, while the second logo is an artistic interpretation of a chequered flag.

The Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary proves simple to read. By framing the subdials in silver rather than yellow, the dial does not overwhelm the wearer’s eyes. Furthermore, the black graduations on the chapter ring allow the wearer to easily determine not just elapsed seconds but also parts thereof.

The case

The case of the BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary features a ‘satined’ finish. It measures a modest 41mm in diameter, conferring universal suitability. 

Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary - bi-compax chronograph

The sapphire crystal is slightly domed, affording lateral views of the dial epidermis. The anti-reflective treatment is particularly good, effectively mitigating the risk of any annoying glare. The profile of the sapphire crystal imbues the timepiece with a vintage appearance.

Bell & Ross has equipped this timepiece with capstan-like pushpieces, in contrast to the screw-down type found on some of the Maison’s other chronographs. Personally, I like both styles of push-piece but concede that the capstan-like variety are easier to live with.

Contrary to many modern-day timepieces, theBell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary sidesteps the now customary exhibition case-back, featuring a solid case-back instead. In this instance, it is adorned with the aforementioned historic Renault logo and chequered flag motif.

Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary - bi-compax chronograph

Completing the specification of the timepiece is a rubber strap paired with a stainless steel pin buckle.

The movement

Bell & Ross has equipped the BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary with the automatic Calibre BR-CAL.301. The avant-garde watch brand has chosen not to specify the balance frequency, jewel count or power reserve. Moreover, owing to the solid case back no critique can be made of the movement finishing.

Closing remarks

The dominant colour of Renault Sport is yellow, while the neighbouring black hue assumes a deferential role. There was a danger that Bell & Ross would douse the dial with said yellow tone and in the process overwhelm the display with too much colour, impairing ease of read-off. Thankfully, this young watch company chose to use yellow sparingly and, in so doing, it has produced a watch that is an exemplar of lucidity and style.

The bi-compax layout is sublime with its balanced and beautifully proportioned appearance.

Measuring 41mm in diameter, the Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary is neither too large nor too small, suiting a broad array of wrist sizes. The capstan-like push-pieces confer a pleasing feel.

Ordinarily, I prefer to see the engine, or rather movement, within a timepiece and, on balance, I would have liked to have seen a finely decorated self-winding calibre. Nevertheless, I like the engraving of the 1970s Renault logo, in fact seeing it made me feel a tad nostalgic.

Overall, this is a mightily handsome timepiece imbued with a pleasing dose of history and I would be happy for it to join my period coat and football, if only I could locate them.

Further information

Technical specification

  • Model: Bell & Ross BR 126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid case-back; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; chronograph; small seconds; date
  • Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.301; Self-winding movement
  • Strap: Black rubber strap supplied with a stainless steel pin buckle
  • Price: £3,350 (RRP as at 27.11.2017)

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