One of the cool concepts that Bell & Ross introduced a few years ago is to link the launch of a watch collection to the creation of a concept machine. Think rocket-bike for the B-Rocket collection, think super-car for the Aero-GT pieces and think vintage speed-record hot rodders for the Bellytanker models. For Baselworld 2018, Bell & Ross does it again, and this time it returns to the roots of the brand with a new concept plane and two watches with racing plane inspiration. Meet the new Bell & Ross Vintage BRV1-92 & BRV2-94 Racing Bird.
The concept behind the Bell & Ross Racing Bird
This has become a recurring game for Bell & Ross. Creating a watch is one thing, linking it to a real, purpose-built machine to justify the very existence of the watch is quite another. Looking at what has been done in the past, we can say that Bruno Belamich – co-founder of B&R and creative director – certainly knows how to design other things than watches. It all started in 2014 with the launch of the B-Rocket collection, inspired by an actual rocket-bike (which isn’t only a sketch but exists in the metal). In 2016, Bruno designed a super-car and the subsequent Aero-GT watches. Last year, he went vintage, with the Bellytanker collection and the hot rodder that inspired it.
This year, Belamich goes back to the roots of the brand, with the creation of a pilot watch and a plane to accompany it. After creating various machines inspired by aeronautical shapes, it was time for the Bell & Ross design studio to finally conceive a plane. This BR-Bird is a high-speed airplane, inspired by the Reno Air Races. Created in 1924, this event pitches planes flying at “full speed” and very low altitude on a closed circuit delimited by 10-metre high pylons. The BR-Bird is an ultra-modern monoposto machine, powered by a V12 Rolls Royce Falcon engine and crafted with high-tech materials (graphite, fibreglass, titanium and aluminium).
The Bell & Ross Vintage BRV1-92 & BRV2-94 Racing Bird
Based on the Vintage collection introduced at Baselworld 2017, Bell & Ross creates two watches, which are first and foremost pilot watches, inspired by the BR-Bird plane. Both versions, the 3-hand BRV1-92, and the chronograph BRV2-94, use the same base as the 2017 versions – meaning the newly designed case, with a smaller, slimmer and rounder profile. What is new here is the colour scheme, which is clearly unprecedented for the brand and a far cry from the usual military inspiration.
Both the Bell & Ross Vintage BRV1-92 and the BRV2-94 Racing Bird inaugurate a new white dial with colourful accents. While Bell & Ross rarely moves beyond black, blue or dark brown colour schemes, these new watches feel special within the collection. Just like the plane that inspired them, these Bell & Ross Racing Bird watches have blue and grey accents, as well as a few hints of bright colour (mainly orange) to enhance legibility. One major evolution, which can be found in both variants, is the way the date is displayed. We’ve heard quite a few complaints regarding the small, round date aperture usually found on B&R watches. Here, the date is displayed in a larger, arched window at 3 o’clock with three digits visible.
The Bell & Ross Vintage BRV1-92 Racing Bird
The first model in the Racing Bird collection is based on the simpler variant of the Bell & Ross Vintage, the BRV1-92. This 38.5mm watch, with a utilitarian, “nude” case (no rotating bezel), is the entry-level offer in the collection. Its clean and practical case has circular brushed surfaces on top, polished sides, and a screwed crown – for water-resistance to 100m. On top is an ultra-domed sapphire crystal that gives the watch a certain vintage charm. It is available on a blue leather strap, with orange sides.
The white dial is accentuated by a grey and blue minute track, as well as a blue seconds hand with its counterweight shaped like the plane that inspired its creation. The date is highlighted by an orange arrow at 3 o’clock. Hours are indicated by newly designed Arabic numerals – a big change compared to the usual military indexes. Behind the closed steel back is a Sellita-based automatic movement. This Bell & Ross Vintage BRV1-92 Racing Bird will be produced in 999 pieces and priced at EUR 2,200 or USD 2,300.
The Bell & Ross Vintage BRV2-94 Chronograph Racing Bird
The second model in the Racing Bird collection is a chronograph, which is more consistent with the speed racing theme deployed by the brand. The 41mm steel case, with screwed pushers and crown, is both brushed (flat surfaces) and polished (case bands) and features a fixed bezel, with a tachymetre scale printed on a blue aluminium insert. This BRV2-94 Racing Bird will be available in two versions, one with a blue and orange leather strap, one with a three-link satin-finished steel bracelet.
The dial will definitely be the talking piece of this BRV2-94 Chronograph Racing Bird. The white background is adorned with several coloured accents: blue and grey for the minute track, blue Arabic numerals, orange for the seconds hand and a surprising game of colour for the 30-minute counter placed at 9 o’clock – once again to enhance legibility. The date, which is now placed at 3 o’clock, is inserted inside the small seconds sub-dial – something that will require a test on the wrist to confirm if it is relevant or not. The Bell & Ross Vintage BRV2-94 Chronograph Racing Bird will be produced in 999 pieces and priced at EUR 3,990 or USD 4,400 on a leather strap and EUR 4,300 or USD 4,700 on a steel bracelet.
More details on www.bellross.com.