Last year marked an important milestone for Bell & Ross when the brand updated its iconic BR 03 collection after well over fifteen years of loyal service. The brand’s instrument-inspired collection is renowned for its extremely legible (in most cases) and recognizable design ethos based on a square case and a circular dial with a crystal on top. Although this journey started with the 46mm wide BR 01 in 2005, it’s the smaller and easier-to-wear BR 03, which came a year later, that truly won over watch enthusiasts. Almost always using aviation as its source of inspiration, the BR 03 collection is synonymous with Bell & Ross, even though the brand does offer more than just that. A couple of months ago, the collection was updated both aesthetically and technically, with this BR 03 Gyrocompass Limited Edition being the first limited edition of this new generation of flight instruments for the wrist.
With the update of the emblematic BR 03 collection, Bell & Ross took the opportunity to not only redesign the case but also reduce its diameter, dropping it from 42mm by 42mm to 41mm by 41mm. Although the changes are marginal, it does give the BR 03 a sharper and fresher look, whilst retaining the signature circle-in-a-square design. It still has functional screws on the corners, a raised bezel with a flat sapphire crystal, and a knurled crown, but it all looks and feels more refined.
For this limited edition, the case is crafted in matte black ceramic, something we’ve seen from Bell & Ross for quite some time already. It gives the watch a tactile, almost military feel, which is perfectly in line with its theme, of course. The size reduction, as well as touch-ups like the slimmer lugs and slightly larger radius on the corners of the case, make quite an impact on the wrist. While not necessarily perceptible on its own, putting it next to a previous-generation BR 03, it becomes quite apparent just how much has changed. And for the better, I should say, as it’s noticeably easier to wear.
The main attraction of the BR 03 Gyrocompass is the almost literal representation of a flight instrument, in this case, an aeronautical gyrocompass. This Gyrocompass, also known as a heading indicator, is an essential primary instrument to determine an aircraft’s direction. It’s used in coordination with an altitude indicator, turn coordinator, airspeed indicator, altimeter and vertical airspeed indicator, a cluster known as “the six-pack” you see above. It’s not the first time this display has made it onto the dial of the BR 03, as it was part of a trilogy of special editions introduced in 2013 already.
The design of the Gyrocompass is carried over to the dial of this watch, which has an outer flange with a white minutes graduation that would normally indicate the 360-degree scales of a compass. The lower section of the dial has a crosshair design with the four cardinal points (North, East, South and West) at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. On top of that, there’s an outline of a jet fighter that is used as the hour hand, a minute hand with a triangular tip and a full-length seconds hand with a white tip. The final detail on, or rather in the dial, is the date window at 4:30. All elements that make up the striking Gyrocompass design are finished with white, yellow or green Super-LumiNova, emitting blue and green hues in the dark.
Covered by a black ceramic caseback, the BR-CAL.302 inside is based on the Sellita SW300-1. This automatic movement powers a wide range of watches by Bell & Ross and beats a rate of 28,800vph. Displaying time through means of a stylized aeroplane for the hours and central hands for the minutes and seconds, it also indicates the date. With a power reserve of 54 hours, it welcomingly outperforms the previous generation of the BR 03 in terms of running time (which topped out at 42 hours). The caseback, as ever, is adorned with inscriptions about the watch, such as the material for the case and its water resistance.
This limited edition, made available in a run of 999 pieces, is fitted to a black rubber strap with a black coated pin buckle that was also redefined in the BR 03 collection’s overhaul. The BR signature is now no longer present on the case side of the strap but has moved to the tip of it instead. Next to that, Bell & Ross also provides you with a black synthetic fabric strap with a hook-and-loop construction and a velcro closing, as well as tools to change the straps. Priced at EUR 4,500, the Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass continues the brand’s signature aviation spirit and is available through their website and brand boutiques.
For more information, please visit BellRoss.com.