It’s not frontpage news anymore for most of us. Paris-based watchmaker Bell & Ross is teaming up with French F1 team Renault. This partnership, which started in 2016 (and that we’ve explained here and here), has resulted in a team of square-shaped watches – after all, this the shape that made the brand successful in the first place. However, not all of us want to sport such a bold watch on the wrist. This is why, in order to celebrate the reopening the French Grand Prix this year, Bell & Ross unveils the Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18 for Renault F1. And this time, it is a (not so) classic round watch.
With the exception of a watch made for the 40th Anniversary of Renault Sport, all the Renault-F1 branded watches by Bell & Ross were technical and bold squared pieces – whether we talk about the R.S.16 collection, the R.S.17 collection of the recently introduced R.S.18 collection. This partnership is part of the new strategy developed by the brand, as explained by its CEO Carlos Rosillo here, in order to target a new audience and to have a diversified offer inside the collection. Three years and a handful of watches later, it is time for Bell & Ross to offer something slightly different and less segmenting than the large square-shaped watches. And here we are, with the new, round Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18. Still F1-inspired but easier on the wrist.
The recipe is simple: Bell & Ross uses the well-designed and nicely proportioned revamped chronograph of the vintage collection as a base and applies the same racy colours that are used on most other R.S. watches. Yet, this BR V2-94 R.S.18 provides more than just a new colour and adds several racing-oriented features that differentiate it from the other versions of this round chronograph – think BellyTanker, Racing-Bird or Steel Heritage.
For this new version, the brand uses the classic combination of black and yellow – actually, the colours that are found on the Renault F1 cars – to create contrast and improve instant legibility. On this BR V2-94 R.S.18, the dial differs drastically from the other versions: it is made of carbon fibre (the most fitting material for such a racing-inspired watch) with applied Arabic numerals – and not painted, military-styled indices. The latter, as well as the rings surrounding the sub-counters and the hands, are all silvered-coloured and provide great contrast against the dark carbon dial.
The minute track is painted in yellow and its length is linked to the tachymeter scale printed on the bezel’s insert – again, to help instant reading of the elapsed times and calculated average speeds. The seconds hand of the chronograph uses the same colour while the 30-minute counter shows red accents to prevent possible confusion. This Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18 is definitely a vibrantly coloured watch, yet it works pretty well in the metal and is in tune with the racing inspiration.
The case is the same as used on other chronographs of the vintage collection, meaning a 41mm watch with satin-finished and polished parts, an ultra-domed sapphire crystal on top and screwed pushers – again, something that we don’t really enjoy here, at MONOCHROME, even though it helps this watch to be water-resistant to 100 metres. Proportions and comfort on the wrist are good and the watch feels more compact due to the black aluminium insert placed on top of the bezel. It is available on a black carbon-printed leather strap with yellow lining – to us, the best option – or a 3-link stainless steel bracelet.
Under the sapphire case back is the ubiquitous calibre BR-CAL.301 (Bell & Ross’ name for the ETA 2894-2), an automatic modular chronograph with 2-register display and date. This movement needs no introduction anymore and will provide reliable timekeeping. The sapphire case back bears a metallised depiction of the Renault car and its serial number (not visible here, as the watch was still a prototype).
The Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18 will be limited to 999 pieces and priced at EUR 4,900 (leather strap) or EUR 5,200 (steel bracelet). Available now in the brand’s webshop and at retailers. More details on www.bellross.com.