In keeping with the tradition since 2008, Bell & Ross releases a new watch at the request of the French Air Force. This 2022 edition is with the famous acrobatic unit Patrouille de France, with the new BR 03 Type A.
The new Bell & Ross BR 03 Type A Patrouille de France REF. BR03AD-BBR-ST/SRB is a limited edition of only 100 copies, and has a retail price of SGD 6,100 inclusive of GST. Pre-orders are open online now, for delivery in December.
We covered the 2021 edition of the Patrouille de France by Bell & Rossin their BR 03-94 Patrouille de France. This time, for 2022, Bell & Ross again chose to use the rounded square design of the BR 03, but euipped it with a new multi function quartz movement with multi-function analogue-digital display instead of the mechanical chronograph used in 2021. The watch chosen for the 2022 Patrouille de France Edition is based on the BR 03 Type A Armée de L’Air of 2008 instead of the 2021 Patrouille de France. The novelty is the same watch as the 2008 version, but with a different dial, and colour scheme reflective of the different collaboration.
The display is also reminiscent of dial which is indicative of the movement used in the Aerospace (Breitling B76) and the B79 in the Emergency II. Both these movements are based on the ETA 988.352 Thermoline. The BR-CAL 103 shows the same features, and is probably also based on the same ETA movement, though Bell & Ross does not state the source of the movement. And also left out a critical specification that the movement is thermo compensated. The ETA is a highly respected movement, well known for its very high precision timekeeping capabilities. It also shines in the use of both digital and analogue indicators to maximise the dial space for excellent, clear displays.
Since it was founded in 1994, aviation and the military universe have been the main sources of inspiration for Bell & Ross. That’s why, through their design, dial and functionality, so many Bell & Ross watches still evoke the world of aeronautical instruments: one of the most demanding when it comes to readability and reliability.
Testament to the excellence achieved by Bell & Ross, elite units from various nations’ armed forces have chosen the watchmaker’s timepieces to accompany them in their perilous missions. So it is with the Patrouille de France, one of the most prestigious acrobatic formations in the world: a true ambassador of the French wings that embodies the expertise of the Air and Space Force.
Today, Bell & Ross is launching a new watch designed and produced in close collaboration with the Patrouille de France pilots, whose emblem of course adorns the dial.
“Bell & Ross shares the same values of precision and performance as the pilots in this elite aerobatic unit,” says Bruno Belamich, the watchmaker’s co-founder and creative director. After forging an official watchmaking partnership with the Patrouille de France in 2021, resulting in the launch of its first dedicated watch, Bell & Ross continues its aerial adventure with the BR 03 Type A Patrouille de France. With its spectacular dial, this timepiece follows in the brand’s tradition: in 2008, it was at the request of the Air Force that Bell & Ross designed the BR 03 Type A instrument for fighter pilots. Now in the colours of the Patrouille de France, this new version is heir to the brand’s true tool watch.
It goes without saying that this watch respects rigorous specifications in line with the needs of Patrouille de France pilots, who manoeuvre in close formation at speeds of between 300 and 800 km/h. When the gap between two planes is only two or three metres, there is no room for even the slightest error. Knowing that it all plays out in a tiny fraction of time, time mastery has always been a professional pillar for these aerobatic aces. As such, all the technical expertise of Bell & Ross engineers and watchmakers came into play to create the BR 03 Type A Patrouille de France.
Adopting the aesthetic “rounded square” concept that constitutes a veritable visual signature for Bell & Ross, and designed for and by elite pilots, this new chronograph features the square BR 03 case in steel, with a diameter of 42mm.
Intended for professional use, the watch is equipped with a quartz movement giving a dual analogue and digital display. The high drain battery provides 30 months of battery life. To provide the best possible readability even in intense situations, the hours and minutes are displayed with conventional hands, while the seconds are displayed on a digital screen. “This device gives pilots optimal reading speed,” stresses Bruno Belamich. In addition, the bidirectional rotating bezel helps memorise time references.
Beyond time indications, the BR 03 Type A Patrouille de France offers many additional functions that come in useful in whatever the circumstance: 1/100th of a second chronograph with intermediate and additional time, countdown, alarm, date and dual time zone.
The window at the top of the dial displays the abbreviation of the chosen function. The second window, positioned at the bottom of the dial, digitally displays the measurement. The various functions are selected by pressing the crown.As a sign of its exclusivity, only 100 copies of the BR 03 Type A Patrouille de France will be produced. Each pilot in the unit will be given with one of these emblematic watches, which has all the elements to fast become a collector’s item.