Bell & Ross’ love for aviation and pilot’s watches needs no introduction anymore. Since its foundation, the brand has had a clear focus on military watches made for action and has built its name in the instrument watch field. Yet, brands have to evolve and explore territories outside their comfort zone. Constantly seeking new universes to colonize, the brand made its first foray onto the tracks in 2016, becoming an official partner of Renault F1 Team. This gave birth to multiple R.S. collections and the fifth is now launching. Let’s take a closer look at the new Bell & Ross R.S.20 Collection of chronograph watches.
Bell & Ross X Renault F1
Five years ago, the management of Renault F1 Team contacted Bell & Ross with a new challenge. While mostly known for its aviation-inspired watches, the brand decided to jump at the opportunity, to launch the partnership with this racing team and to focus on another kind of pilot… Not in the skies and in a cockpit, but on the race track with more horsepower under their feet than anything else with four wheels.
“We enter into a new universe, Formula 1, with which we share common values like technicity, performance, excellence, innovation and we are very excited. Obviously this doesn’t mean that we’ll abandon our territory, the aviation universe, but this new project will help us to push the boundaries of our creativity,” said CEO Carlos Rosillo in an interview with MONOCHROME, back when the project was launched. “We’ll always remain faithful to our origin but it is normal for us to always search for new inspirational fields. With this new partnership, the opportunities in terms of creation are limitless.” And five years later, the brand is still creating watches inspired by the world of F1 and by its partner Renault F1.
This gave birth to several collections. Being focused on motorsport, the obvious choice was to built chronographs. Being dedicated to fast cars, tech materials such as ceramic and carbon fibre were employed. And being the result of a partnership with Renault F1, yellow and black were the signature colours. Following last year’s R.S.19 collection, there a new R.S.20 collection.
Common traits of the R.S.20 collection
This year’s collection is composed, as usual, of four different watches. All of them, as expected, feature a chronograph, known as the go-to complication for a motorsport-inspired watch – which makes sense, since the chronograph was partially developed to time races. Here, we’ll see a classic round-shaped watch, a square-shaped case and two, highly limited and technical skeletonized models.
The Bell & Ross R.S.20 Collection takes its inspiration from the new F1 car for the Renault 2020 team, as well as the R.S.2027 concept car. Technical and modern, the watches mostly play on black with well-dosed yellow accents – a reference to the new F1 car that is mostly black. Also, compared to previous editions, such as the R.S.17, the brand has decided to tone the collection down with a more reasonable use of colour and materials. All in all, the racing spirit is still present, but less obvious and loud.
The BR V3-94 R.S.20
The first model in this Bell & Ross R.S.20 Collection is the BR V3-94, the most classic of the lot with its round-shaped case. This model is part of the vintage family of watches, with which it shares its overall look and feel. A round case and dial, a classic bi-compax display, the possibility to have a steel bracelet and a case that isn’t black coated but classic brushed steel… All elements of a more discreet sports watch.
On the contrary of other chronographs in the vintage collection, the BR V3-94 R.S.20 is a more masculine version, with a larger 43mm case. It is equipped with a bi-directional bezel with anodized aluminium insert and 60-minute countdown scale. Being dedicated to the world of racing, the chronograph is actuated by classic push-buttons (and not screwed pushers, for practical reasons). The watch remains water-resistant to 100m though.
The main novelty compared to the 2019 edition is the dial, which is purer but still legible and bold. The base is matte black, with white seconds/minutes track split into small black and white chequered squares which symbolise the finish line flag used in motor racing. Also, it features applied hour markers stylized in the Renault F1 way – the typography is the same as the one used by the Renault F1 Team.
The bi-compax display consists of a discreet small seconds sub-dial at 3 o’clock and a well-highlighted 30-minute counter. An inner flange in white and yellow, with a tachymeter scale, completes this racing attire. Inside the case is the automatic calibre BR-CAL.301, based on the reliable ETA 2894-2. The Bell & Ross BR V3-94 R.S.20 is available either on black-and-yellow carbon-effect calfskin strap with folding clasp or with a satin-polished steel bracelet. It is limited to 999 pieces.
Specs: 43mm diameter – satin-polished stainless steel case – curved sapphire crystal – screw-down crown – bi-directional bezel with black aluminium countdown insert – 100m WR – matte black dial with yellow accents and applied luminous numerals – calibre BR-CAL.301, automatic – carbon-effect calfskin strap, ref. BRV394-RS20/SCA retails for EUR 3,990 – steel bracelet, ref. BRV394-RS20/SST retails for EUR 4,300 – More details here at bellross.com
The BR 03-94 R.S.20
Second in the Bell & Ross R.S.20 Collection is an all-time classic for the brand, with the iconic “circle within a square” BR 03 case. Usually made for aviation, as its case was inspired by dashboard instruments found in fighter jets’ cockpits, this time the squared watch finds its way on the wrist of a different kind of pilot…
For this 2020 edition, the brand has decided to go for a stealth look applied to the colours, the materials and the overall design of the watch. This edition is more classic, more down-to-earth and easier on the wrist. Yet, it retains all the elements of a Renault F1 X Bell & Ross watch.
The case of the BR 03-94 R.S.20 is the classic 42mm x 42mm square, here made in matte black ceramic. All the elements of the case have been treated in this glare- and scratch-proof material, from the bezel, the screws, the pushers and the crown. It is paired with a perforated black rubber strap that gives the watch is racing credentials (an ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric strap is also included). But here, there is no rotating bezel, for a cleaner look.
The dial of this edition is the same as the V3 above, with a matte black base, a bi-colour inner flange in white and yellow, with the necessary tachymeter scale and a bi-compax layout for the chronograph, with a date positioned at 6 o’clock – unusual for B&R. The indexes and the seconds track refer to the racing world, mimicking a chequered flag and the Renault F1 numbers. Inside the case is the same movement as above, the ETA-based calibre BR-CAL.301. This version is also limited to 999 pieces.
Specs: 42mm x 42mm – matte black ceramic case – sapphire crystal – 100m WR – matte black dial with yellow accents and applied luminous numerals – calibre BR-CAL.301, automatic – perforated rubber strap and black fabric strap included – ref. BR0394-RS20/SRB – EUR 5,990 – more details here at bellross.com
The BR-x1 and BR-x1 tourbillon R.S.20
In addition to these two relatively classic models, Bell & Ross also introduces two highly technical, more high-end watches to the R.S.20 Collection, both being skeleton chronographs – and both based on existing models in the bold BR-X1 line.
Sophisticated, complex, large and daring, the BR-X1 is the brand’s vision of a high-end, highly technical watch. While the case retains the “circle within a square” design dear to B&R aficionados, it is also much more complex in terms of construction. It is made from a multi-material structure, using PVD-coated titanium, ceramic and rubber. The bi-material chronograph rocker pushers are reminiscent of the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The case features a ceramic outer shell for protection purposes and a specific bezel, where the external ring rotates to mark the desired time.
Both models are entirely black with openworked dials revealing some parts of the movement and come with the dedicated yellow accents on the inner flange and the chronograph hands.
Two models will be offered. The first one is the BR-X1 with an automatic skeleton chronograph movement, in a 45mm case. The dial is made of smoked sapphire crystal with the same applied numerals as the two models above. The second shares most of the habillage elements but adds a high-end, highly decorated hand-wound monopusher tourbillon chronograph movement with an off-centred display, including a jumping 30-minute counter. The movement can store up to 100 hours of power and the flying tourbillon, as well as the chronograph mechanism (incl. the column-wheel), are visible through the dial.
Both models are worn on a perforated black rubber. The BR-X1 R.S.20 is a limited edition of 250 pieces priced at EUR 19,900. The BR-X1 Tourbillon R.S.20 is limited to 20 pieces only and priced at EUR 169,000.
BR-X1 R.S.20: 45mm x 45mm – satin-polished titanium and ceramic with rubber inserts – bi-directional rotating PVD bezel ring with time marker – 100m WR – sapphire dial with applied luminous numerals – calibre BR-CAL.313, automatic skeleton chronograph – perforated rubber strap – ref. BRX1-RS20/SRB – EUR 19,900 – more details here at bellross.com
BR-X1 Tourbillon R.S.20: 45mm x 45mm – satin-polished titanium and ceramic with rubber inserts – bi-directional rotating PVD bezel ring with time marker – 100m WR – sapphire dial with applied luminous baton indexes – calibre BR-CAL.283, hand-wound monopusher skeleton chronograph, tourbillon – perforated rubber strap – ref. BRX1-CHTB-RS20/SRB – EUR 169,000 – more details here at bellross.com
More details about the new Bell & Ross R.S.20 Collection at bellross.com.