A year ago, Bell & Ross surprised us with the introduction of one of its coolest watches, the BR03-92 Diver (first introduced in Black). This was not an easy one, however, as cramming all the codes of a true dive watch into a square case sounds tricky. Yet, it was a success and the result extremely pleasing. For Baselworld 2018, the brand has created a collection around the diver with the new Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Blue and Bronze editions.
There’s no need to make the pitch again and again. Most watch enthusiasts can recognise the iconic Bell & Ross “round-within-a-square” shape. This case has become a signature design of the brand, which, over the past 12 years, has seen dozens of variants. Yet, most of them (if not all) were based on aeronautic or military themes – which is understandable, as this very shape is based on the cockpit instrument panel of a fighter jet. So, when Bell & Ross announced its first dive watch – just ahead of Baselworld 2017 – housed in a square case, we were understandably sceptical. For most of us, a dive watch has to be round, simply because of its rotating bezel. But… once we saw the watch in the metal, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver convinced us that this was one of the best B&R creations of late.
For 2018, Bell & Ross rides the wave of the Black BR03-92 model’s success and introduces two new versions. The first one, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Blue is basically a colour update. The second one, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver bronze, is a material update. The base remains the same, with only minor changes. For this reason, we find the same 42mm x 42mm case, shaped like the rest of the BR03 collection. Since its introduction, the shape has evolved slightly. Originally quite basic, it has, over the years, gained in elegance and details, with the addition of a circular-brushed surface on top, polished screws and polished bevels on the periphery – all of that animating the case and offering a more luxurious touch.
Even if they do display new colours, the new editions of the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver stick to the recipe of the Diver Black model. Circling the dial is the traditional unidirectional 60-minute bezel, as well as the screwed crown, covered in rubber for a better grip and highly protected on both sides to avoid shocks. The watch is large, quite prominent on the wrist (due to its larger surface area than the round 42mm watch) but comfortable thanks to the short lugs. Overall, the integration of diving elements has been well executed. The case is water-resistant to 300m on both versions and the watch meets the ISO 6425 standards – the precise criteria defining a true diving watch (including water-resistance to a minimum depth of 100 meters, the presence of a unidirectional rotating bezel with a graduated scale, an operation indicator and luminescent markers, legibility in the dark and anti-shock/anti-magnetic protection).
What about these new editions? The first one, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Blue, undergoes a wardrobe change from black to blue with a blue dial, bezel and strap. The aluminium insert, as well as the dial, have a matte, grainy surface, and the blue colour – an easy but always pleasant choice for a dive watch – is well dosed. The white luminous paint applied on the hands and indices combined with the blue tone gives this new edition a technical, modern look that befits the brand. The second evolution comes from the yellow accents, replacing the orange ones found on the black version. Yellow and orange colours usually disappear quite fast underwater leaving the most important hand on view, the minute one.
The second model, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Bronze, is a more in-depth revision of the model, as both the colour and material have been updated – and in the end, the whole style of the watch. For this edition, the case is manufactured in solid bronze, or to be more precise in CuSn8 bronze – an alloy with 8% of tin, creating one of the most resistant bronze alloys on the market with excellent mechanical properties and a high resilience to corrosion (useful for a dive watch in salty water…) As always with bronze watches, you’ll have to consider that the model shown here is new but will gain its own patina over time. Depending on the environment to which it is exposed, the bronze case will acquire a unique shade over the years. The gilt colour you see here won’t last and the watch will become darker and less shiny.
On this BR03-92 Diver Bronze, some differences are also visible on the unidirectional bezel, which is now crafted in solid bronze – without an aluminium insert. The 60-minute scale is engraved and filled in black. To match the case, the matte black dial features gold-plated indices and hands. Because this version is a limited edition of 999 pieces, Bell & Ross has added a specific engraved case back. Finally, to complement the vintage look of this bronze version, the rubber strap has been replaced by an aged leather strap.
Even if they share the exact same foundations (including the automatic movement, based on a Sellita SW-300), these two new editions are totally different in the metal – one being modern and technical, the other being bright, vintage-inspired and more luxurious.
The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Blue will be part of the standard collection and priced at EUR 3,300 (just like the black version). The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Bronze is limited to 999 pieces and priced at EUR 3,800. Both are delivered with an additional ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric strap. They will be available in stores in May and can be pre-ordered on the brand’s webshop here.