Usually, we would not cover limited edition watches created by our neighbours (another magazine) but for once, we’ll make an exception. Not only because Wei Koh (founder of The Rake and Revolution) is a good friend of ours, not only because we like Bell & Ross watches, but mainly because the result of this new collaboration is pretty good looking! Based on the already very cool Vintage BellyTanker, The Rake and Revolution adds a fashionable touch to the collection with some “tropical”, vintage-like elements to create two watches undeniably dans l’air du temps: the Bellytanker “El Mirage” & “Dusty” Chronographs.
The Tropical/Patina effect
The collecting world is undergoing a dramatic evolution. Not only for watches but also for cars – and we all know about the close links between cars and watches. Wei Koh explains it perfectly: “A few decades ago, the first thing a car collector would do with his 356 Speedster was a frame-off restoration, rebuilding the engine and particle blasting the chassis before repainting it to glossy perfection.” And indeed, the same applied to watches.
Over the past decade, the situation has changed to one and only concept: authenticity. How many “barn finds” have set records at auctions? Thanks to (or because of) Patrizzi or Bacs, the “cool factor” in watch collecting has changed from pristine condition to traceability, original condition and signs of the times. The story behind the coveted object has become more important than the condition of the object itself. This is when the popularisation of tropical dials came to the market.
The fact that each and every watch is unique and has the traces of its former life stamped on the dial makes the object even more sought-after. Knowing that the watch industry had been playing on the vintage trend for over a decade now, we didn’t have to wait long before new watches started to bear faux-patina and tropical dials. Fashionable and desirable.
With the new Bell & Ross X The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker “El Mirage” & “Dusty” Chronographs, we have the perfect example of applying the vintage/collecting spirit in a new, modern package. The best of both worlds, if you want. This is why the two watches that our Revo friends are launching play on tones of brown and evolutive materials, to bring the idea of “growing old gracefully” to the Bellytankers.
The Base – the B&R Bellytanker
The Rake and Revolution haven’t created a watch from scratch but instead used one of the coolest Bell & Ross watches as a base, the Bellytanker Chronograph. While the revised Vintage collection already made quite an impression when it was launched in 2017 – slimmer, thinner, more vintage-oriented, nicely shaped and much more comfortable on the wrist – we have to admit that the Bellytanker edition certainly is the most desirable of them all.
The name “Bellytanker” refers to a post-WWII practice. At first, bellytanker was the name given to an emergency drop tank fitted in the belly of fighter planes. Once the Second World War ended, this word took on another meaning and became a nickname for the high-speed race cars manufactured directly from these spare tanks. In 2017, Bell & Ross used this historical practice to conceive its own – imaginary – “Bellytanker” car, which provided the inspiration for a series of watches.
The watches had a clear 1950s inspiration and differed from the rest of the collection thanks to their unique colour – a patinated copper (almost salmon) dial with black sub-counters – just as if “the dial of this watch had been affected by UV light of the Southern California sun and the intense heat”.
Using this watch as a base, the Rake and Revolution bring new colours, new materials for two desirable limited editions.
Bell & Ross X The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker “El Mirage”
The first version presented is dubbed “El Mirage”. Inspired by the bright yellow livery of Burke’s legendary Belly Tank Racer, the watch was originally going to be crafted in yellow gold. However, the final choice for this Bell & Ross X The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker “El Mirage” was to use a different material for the case. In order to keep the price accessible, Belamich and Rosillo (founders of B&R) proposed a bronze alloy instead – an idea that turned out to be even more in line with the overall concept of patinated watches, given the special ageing process inherent to this material.
As we’ve explained already with the BR03-92 Diver, bronze is a material that will gain patina, depending on the wearer’s activities. However, in this case, the watch uses a special stabilised bronze, still capable of exuding a rich, intense yellow hue that will patinate to a limited extent only. So no massive amount of green oxide expected, but just a cool, discreet amount of patina to act like a vintage gold watch.
The bronze case of the Bellytanker “El Mirage” is paired with a champagne dial and tropical brown sub-dials, minute track and bezel, as well as a matching brown military strap. Another exclusive feature is the “Revolution” logo printed on the caseback. The rest of the watch is familiar: 41mm diameter, screwed pushers and crown, Sellita SW 300 two-counter automatic chronograph and 100m water-resistant. More details on the watch here.
Bell & Ross X The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker “Dusty”
The second version presented by the Bell & Ross X The Rake and Revolution is named “Dusty”. No less vintage-inspired, it is a bit more discreet and understated. The idea with this watch was to take the standard black-dial Vintage B&R and to imagine what it would look like 70 years from now, after daily exposure to the California sun – an exercise in tropical design, if you like.
So, instead of the original cooper-coloured dial found on the standard Bellytanker, the dial of “Dusty” (a reference to the dry lakes that Burke raced on so frequently) is tobacco-brown-coloured, almost caramel-like, still with black sub-counters and seconds track and with a brown insert on the bezel.
The stainless steel case is polished and satin-finished and features the same specifications as other BR V2-94 watches: 41mm diameter, screwed pushers and crown, Sellita SW 300 two-counter automatic chronograph and 100m water-resistant. It is paired with a military-style strap in medium-brown. More details on the watch here.
Availability, price and orders
These two watches are limited to 100 pieces per model and will be available as of early November 2018. The Bell & Ross Bellytanker “Dusty” Chronograph will be priced at EUR 3,880 or USD 4,500 and the Bell & Ross Bellytanker “El Mirage” will be priced at EUR 4,300 or USD 4,990.
Both “Dusty” and “El Mirage” Bellytanker chronographs are collaborations between Bell & Ross and Revolution/The Rake and will only be available through the magazine’s own webshop. You can register your interest here, through this link.