The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary
An automatic instrument paying tribute to the elite unit of the French Air and Space Force.
Parisian brand Bell & Ross was founded in 1992 with a shared vision of functional and tough watches. It has a long history of military-inspired watches, but also watches issued for special forces, squadrons, astronauts, the French Naval Air Force or elite squads such as the GIGN and the RAID. In 2021, following the release of several collections purely intended for civilian use, the brand went back to its roots, by announcing its partnership with France’s precision aerobatics demonstration unit, the world-famous Patrouille de France. In order to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the elite unit, Bell & Ross releases the limited edition BR 03-92 Patrouille de France.
It felt rather natural that the French Acrobatic Patrol “Patrouille de France” chose French brand Bell & Ross as its official watch partner, following Breitling, which was officially partnering with the Patrol since 2017 but actually made some watches with this team already since 1993. The Patrouille de France is one of the world’s most famous precision aerobatics demonstration unit. Born in 1953 but active since 1931 under different names, this elite unit under the control of the French Air and Space Force (the Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) is the oldest of its kind and is considered one of the best in the world. The patrol’s mission is to perform aerial displays consisting of precision aerobatics, such as the opening of the Bastille Day military parade in Paris. The squadron is composed of 9 pilots and 35 mechanics. They have for mission to maintain and repair the 12 Alphajet planes assigned to the unit.
Back in 2021, the partnership was announced and it already gave birth to two dedicated models; the BR 03 Type A with digital display (a specific request of the pilots) and the BR 03-94 Patrouille de France Chronograph. The third special edition model has now been released and pairs traditional Bell & Ross codes with flamboyant French colours and unique design elements to celebrate 7 decades of precision aerobatics.
The choice for the new watch dedicated to the Patrouille de France is the most classic of models from Bell & Ross, the BR 03-92. Also known as the instrument line, it comes in the signature case (the circle within a square) with 4 functional screws, directly modelled after vintage dashboard instruments. Measuring 42mm x 42mm, with a reasonable height of 10.40mm, it is here presented in a stealthy version, with a matte, microblasted ceramic case. The back has been decorated with the silhouettes of the 5 aircraft that have flown since the creation of the Patrouille de France in 1953 – Thunderjet, Ouragan, Mystère IV, Fouga Magister and Alphajet.
The dial of this BR 03-92 Patrouille de France also pays tribute to the acrobatic patrol, with a particularly luminous shade of blue, evoking the colour of the Alpha Jet of the Patrouille de France – which you could name Bleu France. The matte background is home to multiple highly contrasting white elements, such as the large luminous Arabic numerals and markers, as well as oversized white-SLN-coated hands. The insignia of this elite display team and the specific logo of its 70TH anniversary appear at the heart of this dial, which unfortunately still retains its date window…
Powered by the Calibre BR-CAL.302, a Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement, this BR 03-92 Patrouille de France is delivered with two straps; a tone-on-tone leather strap with French stitching and a steel PVD-coated pin buckle, and a black synthetic canvas fabric strap.
Limited to 999 pieces, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary is now available for orders on the brand’s website, with deliveries scheduled for mid-July 2023. It is priced at EUR 4,200. For more details, please visit www.bellross.com.
Too expensive. A ceramic case with a basic Selitta movement. The design is cool, I guess, but you’re paying for the limited nature. Although at 1000 pieces, it will not appreciate.