Since its foundation in 1994, Bell & Ross has been the watch of choice for pilots. Initially, this referred to pilots in the aeronautical industry and military forces. But the word pilot also covers racing car pilots. In 2016, Bell & Ross decided to enlarge its scope and offer watches inspired by the world of racing pilots and partnered with Renault F1 Team – a natural match between a French watchmaker and a French F1 team. To celebrate the arrival of the Alpine brand at this year’s Grand Prix races, the team has been renamed Alpine F1 Team, and Bell & Ross continues to be its official timekeeping partner. To seal this collaboration, the Paris-based brand unveils a new range of models, the Bell & Ross Alpine F1 Team A521 Collection.
This new Alpine F1 Team A521 Collection marks the sixth range of Bell & Ross watches inspired by the world of Formula 1, and as is often the case, launches with three models. Being related to circuits and motorsport, they are all, as you’d expect, chronograph models made to time races and calculate average speeds. And since the F1 team has changed from Renault to Alpine, coincidentally changing its livery from black/yellow to mostly blue, it was time for Bell & Ross to update the F1 collection with a new colour scheme.
The Alpine F1 Team A521 collection, named after the current Alpine A521 single-seaters driven by Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon (read our interview with him here), is comprised of three models that share the same design and reflect the visual identity of Alpine, in particular the constructor’s basic colour code of blue, black and white. Although the dials and colours are all identical, cases, materials and movements are different throughout.
The Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521
First in line in this Alpine F1 Team A521 Collection is a watch that breaks the norm at Bell & Ross by not being housed in the brand’s signature squared case. Instead, this BR V3-94 A521 comes in a classic round case that makes it a simple and effective instrument watch. With its 43mm stainless steel case – the largest from the Vintage collection – it is a robust and sporty chronograph with classic pump pushers and a bi-directional bezel. On top of it is a black aluminium insert with a 60-minute countdown scale.
Dial side, the watch has a classic bi-compax layout with large stylised applied numerals painted in white, which contrast with the surrounding black for optimum legibility. The hands, bolder than classic collections, are also painted white, and all the elements are filled with luminous material. The dial is framed, on the inner flange, by a blue tachymeter scale, matching the colour of the central seconds hand. The main novelty lies in the two sub-counters, with a star-shaped style recalling the rims of the F1 cars and openworked in the centre to reveal parts of the movement.
Powering this Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521 is a modular chronograph movement, the BR-CAL.301 (aka ETA 2894-2). Beating at 4Hz, it stores up to 42 hours of power reserve. It is visible under a sapphire caseback and the watch, thanks to a screw-down crown, is water-resistant up to 100 metres. This round version of the Alpine F1 Team watch is available either on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet or a carbon-effect black and blue leather strap – both closed by folding clasps. It will be limited to 500 pieces and priced at EUR 3,990 on leather and EUR 4,300 on a steel bracelet.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-94 A521
The second watch in this Alpine F1 collection couldn’t be more Bell & Ross with its chronograph movement housed in the brand’s signature squared case with round dial opening – the iconic “circle in a square” configuration. Measuring 42mm x 42mm, the steel case alternates brushed surfaces and polished accents and is topped by a bi-directional bezel with a black aluminium insert with a 60-minute countdown scale – used to time the start of the race.
This square edition of the Alpine F1 chronograph features specific toggle push buttons with a black PVD coating to actuate the chronograph. They are designed to look like the paddle shifters found on the steering wheels of racing cars. Thanks to a screw-down crown, the case is water-resistant to 100 metres. The dial is essentially the same as the round version above, with identical italic stylised numerals, cut-outs in the centre of the sub-dials, and a blue tachymeter scale and blue hands for the chronograph functions. The date is positioned at 6 o’clock in a framed window.
Under the solid caseback is the same movement, calibre BR-CAL.301 – ETA 2894-2. This BR 03-94 A521 is worn on a perforated rubber strap that is lighter and more breathable, and closed by a pin buckle. This edition will be limited to 500 pieces and priced at EUR 5,900.
The Bell & Ross BR-X1 A521
Last but not least, the brand is also unveiling a more technical, bolder, larger and more exclusive take on the Alpine F1 concept with this BR-X1 watch. Known to be the largest and most technical watch of the brand, it has a modular 45mm x 45mm square case that combines grade 5 titanium, ceramic and rubber. The toggle push buttons are made from titanium covered in rubber for better grip, and once again, recall the paddle shifters on the steering wheel of a Formula 1. A rubber shell surrounds the case to protect it against impacts, and the watch has a 100m WR rating.
In this BR-X1 A521 edition, the bezel is different from the other, more classic versions. The bezel is divided into a fixed, graduated section made from titanium and a rotating aluminium ring, covered with black PVD, allowing the wearer to mark the time. Also, this version comes with an entirely skeletonised dial, revealing a specifically developed movement, BR-CAL.313, also based on the ETA 2894-2, yet with X-shaped bridges. A sapphire crystal plate covers this engine with stylised Arabic numerals on top. Again a bi-compax chronograph, it plays on black, white and blue colours to match the Alpine F1 livery.
Worn on a perforated rubber strap and closed by a steel pin buckle with black rubber overmoulding, this Bell & Ross BR-X1 A521 will be limited to 50 pieces and priced at EUR 18,900.
For more details on the new Bell & Ross Alpine F1 Team A521 Collection and to place an order, please visit www.bellross.com.