Bell & Ross this week adds an entirely new collection, BR 05, to its lineup of contemporary and vintage-tinged aeronautical watches. Retaining the well-known Bell & Ross circle-in-a-square design, the new BR 05 features a 40mm modified square case with rounded edges that has been linked directly into its steel bracelet, creating Bell & Ross’s first integrated steel watch.
Directly referencing the groundbreaking integrated steel watches of the 1970s, Bell & Ross’s BR 05 design essentially is an evolution of its cockpit-inspired BR 03. Bell & Ross has placed its very identifiable 12-6-9 numerals and four bezel screws exactly where you’d expect them on a Bell & Ross aviation watch, but has unexpectedly framed them with curved, polished bezel and case edges that nicely meld into a new steel bracelet.
“This integration of case and bracelet is not only in line with the brand’s visual identity, it also brings another dimension to the watch: the first link forms part of the case,” explains Bell & Ross co-founder and creative director Bruno Belamich. Co-founder and CEO Carlos Rosillo adds that “the arc of the curve allow the components to be perfectly aligned and ensures the bracelet can adapt seamlessly to any wrist.” (Read more comments from Carlos Rosillo about BR 05 in a special iW interview below.)
The watch’s satin-finished surfaces, which include the top-facing side of the broad bezel and the primary bracelet links, are perfectly flat and are nicely emphasized by carefully polished bevels. Dials are offered in sunray-patterned dark blue, black and grey.
Bell & Ross is also debuting a limited edition steel-cased BR 05 with its automatic movement skeletonized to better show off the Sellita SW300-based Caliber BR-CAL322 movement, the open-worked version of the Caliber BR321 placed into the primary BR 05 collection.
For the skeleton edition, limited to 500 pieces, Bell & Ross removes the date and the numerals, replacing them with luminous markers. All BR 05 models feature a clear sapphire caseback, which nicely frames the 360-degree open-worked rotor.
While Bell & Ross is emphasizing its integrated bracelet with BR 05, the collection is also available with a black or blue ribbed rubber strap. Finally, Bell & Ross is also offering a rose gold BR 05 (not pictured here), complete with a solid-gold integrated bracelet or a black rubber strap.
BR 05 Gold: On a rubber strap: $21,500; on gold bracelet: $32,500
BR 05 Black Steel on rubber strap: $4,400; on steel bracelet: $4,900
BR 05 Blue Steel on rubber strap: $4,400; on steel bracelet: $4,900
BR 05 Skeleton on rubber strap: $5,900; on steel bracelet: $6,400
Why create the entirely new collection BR 05? What was your goal?
The goal was to develop an intermediate model between the square - our utilitarian icon - and the round – which is universal and generic. With this new line in mind, we did not want to create a city watch, but a Bell & Ross watch made for the city. The BR05 is the subtly square watch for the city.
In what ways does the BR 05 design fit in with the Bell & Ross approach to watchmaking?
The inspiration comes from our iconic model, the BR03, which takes essence from the aeronautical cockpits. As a complementary collection and thus still very Bell & Ross, we are keeping our core codes that are the iconic case with a circle in a square, the iconic graphics on the dial with its 12-6-9 figures and the four screws. It is what I consider an evolution of this icon. In the BR05 DNA, there is a piece of dashboard.
Who are you appealing to with the new design?
It is a modern watch. So we can easily imagine a young urban man who works in a suit and rides a bike appreciating items with a singular design. It is the ideal timepiece for the man-about-town eager to face the challenges of modern life and in control of time and his destiny.
What were the primary challenges you found when creating the collection?
The main challenge is to maintain the brand’s fundamentals while innovating constantly. We are evolving in a market where novelty is necessary. The difficulty lay in respecting the proportions and volumes: to design a 40mm case with a mechanical movement and open the dial to emphasize readability.
Why such a distinctive strap?
The new BR05 is a perfect blend between our iconic square model and a type of watch in which the case merges with the bracelet to create a compact and harmonious whole. The arc of the curve allow the components to be perfectly aligned and ensures the bracelet can adapt seamlessly to any wrist. All of this makes the BR05 a jewel.
Will BR 05 replace any existing collection?
No, it is indeed the missing link between our two existing collections and case shapes. The round shape is inspired by the history of aviation and the past, and the square for its radical form and for professional use.
We wanted to create a watch with the iconic Bell & Ross case and to merge it with a steel bracelet. The idea was to move from the professional world of the extreme to the urban landscape, a transition from the off-road to the on-road.