Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

The Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird is a departure from the watch brand’s legendary square-shaped models. This round timepiece measures a modest 38.5mm in diameter, sports a clean-cut appearance and represents excellent value for money.

This detailed review of the Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

A few weeks ago, I attended a social event and made small talk with a group of fellow watch journalists. While chatting about absent colleagues and discussing industry news, I noticed that one chap was wearing an eye-catching timepiece. He revealed that the watch was on loan from Bell & Ross and that it was the BR V1-92 Racing Bird, launched at Baselworld 2018. I was struck by its crisp white dial and tasteful use of blue and grey tones. However, its temporary wearer was of slight build and I wondered how its 38.5mm case would look when affixed to my hursuit, behemoth left wrist. Nevertheless, with my interest suitably piqued, I vowed to myself that the next time I visited the Franco-Swiss brand’s boutique, I would make a point of trying it on.

Bell & Ross was founded in 1992 and came to prominence with its robust, aviation-inspired, square watches. The brand has since embraced complicated timepieces, including tourbillons and high-tech case materials such as forged carbon and sapphire crystal. While the company has also released round watches, including some attractive chronographs, like many people, I still think of square watches whenever I see the brand’s stylised ampersand logo.

The Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird is different from its siblings and immediately stands out. Its size is comparatively small when placed side by side with its older, square-shaped contemporaries. The white dial and judicious use of colour imbue this timepiece with a fresh, innocent appearance. However, most notably, it is very affordable. With an asking price of just £1900, this is one of the most accessible Bell & Ross models.

The dial

As stated earlier, the dial of the Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird is bright white. Its appearance sets aside the customary hues employed on pilot’s watches and embraces a youthful, fresh-faced aesthetic. If this watch was a twenty-something chap with a raging thirst, it would have to show its ID before being served. Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

The hours are marked with blue painted Arabic numerals and the typeface is modern, proving simple to read. The hour and minute hands are silver-toned and lined with white Superluminova. I expected these hands to merge into the background, however, their silvery edges ensure they stand out from the white dial epidermis.

A blue central sweep seconds hand reinforces the aeronautical theme courtesy of the airplane-themed counterweight. The altimeter date enriches the overall appearance of the Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird and provides effortless readability.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

The minuterie is marked with white strokes and alternating blocks of blue and grey. The two subtly contrasting shades aid interpretation and the resultant aesthetic proves very attractive.

The case

I expected the Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird to be overwhelmed by my leviathan-like left arm. However, as the ‘wrist-shot’ herein shows, the watch looked at home on my wrist. Experience has taught me that some watches ‘wear’ larger than others. While some timepieces with a sub-40mm diameter have looked uneasy when affixed to my arm, this Bell & Ross, in my opinion, appeared suitably relaxed in my company.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

Despite its modest asking price, Bell & Ross has incorporated some delightful touches. The crystal is termed by the brand as ‘ultra-curved sapphire’, it arcs gracefully near the bezel and provides magnified lateral views of the dial. This curvaceous pane of sapphire crystal transcends the ubiquitous flat glass, heightening the appeal of the watch.

The movement

The solid caseback is engraved with an aeroplane motif and the timepiece’s unique limited edition serial number. While I would have preferred an exhibition caseback, I accept that pilot’s watches have historically featured solid casebacks. Indeed, purists will concur with Bell & Ross’s decision.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

Bell & Ross is always tight-lipped about the movements it uses. The brand merely states the calibre BR-CAL.302 is ‘automatic.mechanical’. However, the instruction manual for the watch does reveal that the movement features a hacking seconds and the power reserve is approximately 40 hours.

Owing to the fitment of a solid caseback, it was not possible to appraise the movement finishing.

Closing remarks

The Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird has an immaculate appearance. Brooding hues are set aside and its innocent character does not hide anything. Everything this watch is thinking is clearly shown on the dial. There is no ambiguity.

Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird

Personally, I find the aeronautical-themed counterweight on the central seconds hand a tad fussy, but otherwise the remaining dial elements are beautifully styled and optimally positioned.

Bell & Ross has produced a timepiece which has caught me on my blind side. All too often I associate the Franco-Swiss firm solely with square-cased watches, despite it making numerous round timepieces. Thankfully, I spotted this watch on someone’s wrist and a journey of discovery ultimately ensued. My excursion into Bell & Ross’s accessible horology has proved enjoyable and shows the virtue of thinking outside of the box, or beyond the legendary square.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Racing Bird
  • Reference: BRV192-BB-ST/SCA
  • Case: Stainless-steel; diameter 38.5mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date.
  • Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.302; self-winding movement; power reserve = 40 hours
  • Strap: Blue calfskin strap with orange stitching paired with a steel pin buckle
  • Price: £1,900 (RRP as at 9.1.2019)

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