The breaking of new ground in haute horlogerie is imminent for Bell & Ross. The introduction of the BR-X1, whose name is no doubt a nod back to the Bell X-1 supersonic experimental aircraft, is the first tangible evidence of Bell & Ross’ new direction within their family of aeronautical-inspired timepieces. The Parisian brand has some formidable foes in its crosshairs: the Royal Oak and the King Power. This is beginning to sound like a legendary dog-fight in the skies!
We’ve introduced the steel version of the Bell & Ross Br-X1 Skeleton Chronograph a couple of months ago, but for this year’s Baselworld fair, a new version is being launched. The new iteration of the BR-X1 platform features a forged carbon case. The material is extremely light, but at the same time offers a high tensile strength.
The process of creating a forged carbon case is delicate and precise. Instead of alternating a woven mesh of carbon fibres in different directions to obtain the desired shape or strength, Bell & Ross’ process relies on pressure and heat to bond the short carbon fibres together. The fibres are placed in a steel mold, and then compressed and heated to obtain the final product. The result is a strong, scratch resistant case with a sleek, satin-like finish.
Just as in the steel version, a protective band made of ceramic is mounted to the case. This band protects the case against knocks and bangs as you wear it. The rocker pushers are done in the same ceramic material, and have rubber inserts to provide a good grip on them, even with gloves on. As we mentioned before, Bell & Ross is still an aeronautically inspired brand and this aeronautic influence is evident in every BR-model.
The BR-X1 case stays true to the Bell & Ross design, with a square box case and a round aperture. The design is becoming somewhat iconic, as it is instantly recognizable. Bell & Ross wants to compete with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore and the Hublot King Power, and with their consistency of vision in design, they already have the necessary recognizability.
The same movement is selected for the BR-X1 Forged Carbon, the B&R Cal. 313 Skeleton Chronograph. Specially created by Dubois Depraz, it is most likely based on an ETA movement or a clone. Again we see the openworked “X” on the mainplate, and the same variety in finishing. Time is indicated through the central hours and minute hands, and the small seconds disc at 9 o’clock. The skeletonized aluminium date wheel is visible through the tinted mineral glass that doubles as the dial. A clear aperture at 6 o’clock shows the correct date. The chronograph is displayed through the centrally mounted, red-tipped seconds hand and the minute counter positioned at 3 o’clock.
The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Chronograph Carbon Forgé is available in a run of 250 timepieces. Price is set at € 19.000,-. First impressions regarding the quality of the new models are good; hands-on time will tell if the watch will feel and perform as great as it looks.