Bell & Ross, French in origin, have been actively involved as a timing partner in Formula 1 for quite some years now. It started with Renault Sport Formula 1, which has since changed its name to BWT Alpine F1 Team but is still in essence the same team as when Bell & Ross entered F1 in 2016. Fielding French racing drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, you can talk about a genuine French connection between the watch manufacturer and the racing team. Every year, Bell & Ross announces one or multiple limited editions celebrating the partnership between the two, and this year is no exception. New for the 2023 season is the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523, which makes for the first Alpine F1-inspired BR 05 model. So, as the UK Grand Prix at Silverstone is just around the corner, keep your eyes focused on the wrists of both drivers for a chance to spot this new racing-inspired chronograph.
Named after this year’s F1 car, just as last year’s watch was named after last year’s car, Bell & Ross switched from the square BR 03 range to the square-ish BR 05 collection, specifically the chronograph. The BR 05 Chrono A523 has the familiar rounded square stainless steel case, that measures 42mm in width and 14.25mm in height. The raised bezel is fixed with functional screws in all four corners, and the crown, crown guards and pushers are all positioned on the right-hand side. The circular sapphire crystal breaks up the overall square-ish looks, as the sapphire caseback does on the backside of the watch.
It should come as no surprise the BR 05 Chrono A523 comes with touches of the A523’s racing livery on the dial. The matte black base dial has a blue tachymeter flange on the outer periphery, and blued hands for the chronograph. The applied indices, as well as the hands for the running time, are finished in white with Super-LumiNova. The date is positioned between 4′ and 5′. A cool touch is the Alpine A-shaped logo that serves as a counterweight to the central chronograph seconds hand. Furthermore, there is a white minute track that looks a bit like curbstones on the edge of a corner on a race track, and a white ring surrounding the subdials.
Contrary to previous editions of the BR 05 Chrono, this A523 edition relies on a new externally sourced automatic chronograph, in this case from Sellita, the BR-CAL.326, while previous models featured the BR-CAL.301 – a modular chronograph movement based on the ETA 2894-2 architecture. Now, the new movement is a Sellita SW-510 (the movement maker’s own version of the Valjoux architecture). This integrated and solid movement runs at a rate of 28,800vph and has a power reserve of about 60 hours, a welcome upgrade over the 38 hours of the previous engine. It displays central hours and minutes, with a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The chronograph function uses a central seconds hand and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Although no image has been provided, the caseback is sapphire crystal.
The new Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523 is limited to 500 pieces, all supplied with a stainless steel integrated bracelet or a black and blue calfskin leather strap. It’s available for pre-order now through Bell & Ross’ website with delivery scheduled for the end of this month. The prices are EUR 6,990 with the leather strap or EUR 7,500 with the steel bracelet.