Bell & Ross BR 03 Diver Military (Ref. BR0392-D-KA-CE/SRB)
Bell & Ross announced its new model added to its successful diver’s watch model family, BR 03 Diver. The model, arranged with a military theme, is limited to 999 pieces.
The Replica BR 03 Diver model family, which was added to the product group by the famous French brand in 2017, continues to expand with a new version. The model, which successfully represents Bell & Ross’s “Tool Watch” philosophy, draws attention with its military inspired color theme.
Matte black ceramic material is used for the 42mm x 42mm case (and one piece bezel) of the model. The case, which has sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the front and a bezel with luminous numbers on it, and a ceramic cover on the back, also features a screw-down crown. As expected from a professional diver’s watch, the model offers a water resistance value of 300 meters, which also meets ISO 6425 standards.
The military theme, which is also included in the model’s name, is completed by a khaki green dial. The dial, which promises optimum readability in almost any environment with its Super-LumiNOVA filled large hour markers and thick hands, has a date window at 4:30 o’clock, displaying with a disc in the same tone as the dial.
The new model is powered by the Caliber BR-CAL.302 based on Sellita SW-300-1. Te 25-jewel automatic movement beats at a frequency of 4Hz (28.800vph) and offers up to 42 hours of power reserve when fully wound.
The model, which is limited to only 999 pieces, is accompanied by a black rubber strap with the B&R logo. There is also a khaki colored synthetic strap in the box set of the model. Both straps are secured to the wrist with a black PVD coated stainless steel buckle. The list price for the model, which is planned to reach the sales points in the coming days, is EUR 4,400.
Following in the footsteps of the recently launched BR 03-93 GMT, Bell & Ross has released its latest luminous experiment. Using a now relatively familiar case design and configuration (via the Vintage collection chronograph style seen in the base BR V2-94 design), the new BR V2-94 Full Lum nonetheless presents a novel take on the look with its contrasting, super-luminous style. The watch comes as a follow-up to 2020’s luminous novelties, most notably the BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum and BR03-92 HUD Limited Edition, the former of which, like today’s model, also uses multiple contrasting colors of lume to produce its namesake “Full Lum” look.
While not as significant as the first external-bezel, square-GMT from the brand, it does nonetheless signal Bell & Ross’ continued interest in both uncommon colorway options within its greater catalog and the use of highly luminous, contrasting dials to create these unique colorways. This model joins an already diverse set of watches currently offered within the BR V2-94 Full Lum series and the larger Vintage collection produced by the brand. While stark in its look to the outside viewer, it fits right at home in the context of Bell & Ross’ other creations.
Taking a closer look at its details, we first come to a familiar case silhouette, as seen in other V2-94 chronographs. With a case diameter of 41mm, 100-meter water resistance, tapered lugs, screw-down pushers, and a fixed bezel with an anodized black insert, it feels like a sturdy, diver-adjacent chronograph working to channel a novel take on the classic tool-watch format.
For the straightforward look of the case, it’s once we get underneath the domed, anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal that we see the true star of the watch. With a dial completely painted in luminescent green, even in full light, the surface has a bright, attention-grabbing style. Then, when introduced to low-light conditions, the style really shines, with the black paint starkly contrasting to the bright Super-LumiNova green. Reading the time is a highly legible exercise, accented in small degrees – though most noticeably at the nine o’clock 30-minute chronograph sub-dial – with a contrasting lume color.
As for its other, less luminous details, the configuration of the dial is in line with previous BR V2-94 Full Lum chronographs by the brand, complete with oversized Arabic numerals on the top and bottom of the dial, large sub-dials at the other two quarter-hour positions, a small non-luminous date window at the 4:30 position, and aviation-inspired hands at the center of the face. It might have been interesting for Bell & Ross to add one non-green element, possibly in a red-tipped seconds pointer or something along those lines, but the brand may have decided the style of the look was stark enough and left it be.
As for its movement, Bell & Ross stuck with the standard BR-CAL.301 they have used to great effect in the series (the caliber is based upon the ETA 2894-2 and provides 42-hours of power reserve). Like the mechanism used in the previously released GMT, this automatic chronograph caliber helps provide easily serviceable, no-nonsense mechanical power to the watch, helping keep the focus on the functionality of the highly luminous wearer.
2021 is the year of further strengthening the bond with its core business and 1st passion, Aviation. It is also the year Bell & Ross rethinks its GMT Instrument and launches a new version. Redesigned, more modern, more functional, more readable.
Its black sunray dial contrasts with its large white photoluminescent numerals and indexes. This color scheme is ingrained in Bell & Ross’ DNA. It echoes the colors used for on-board flight instruments.
The new Replica BR 03-93 GMT timepiece provides the time in three different locations around the world. For the first time, the iconic square shape is completed with a bi-directional bezel.
· Case: 42 mm in width. Satin-finished and polished steel. Bi-directional rotating bezel with 24-hour scale and black and red two-colour anodised aluminium ring.
· Dial: Black. Indices coated in Super-LumiNova. Metal skeletonised Super-LumiNova-filled hour and minute hands and 24-hour hand.
· Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
· Water-resistance: 100 metres.
· Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.303. Automatic mechanical.
· Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, second 24-hour time zone and date. Quick setting of the GMT hand, independently of the hour hand.
· Straps: Black coloured calfskin leather and ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric.
· Buckle: Pin. Satin-finished and polished steel.
Being a brand specialized in aeronautical instruments and pilot’s watches, Bell & Ross somehow needs to have GMT models in its collection, being probably the most useful complication for aircraft pilots… and frequent travellers. And, without surprise, this complication was already found onboard the BR instrument collection as well as in the Vintage line. Today, the Paris-based brand is updating its square traveller’s watch, with a new version of the BR 03-93 GMT. Redesigned, more modern, more functional, more readable… Let’s have a look at this new edition.
So what you see above is the version of the BR 03-93 GMT replica watch that you could get until now, and the one that’s being replaced by the watch we’ll discover below. What we have here is a 42mm x 42mm stainless steel watch, with a matte black dial, orange accents on the central GMT hand and a fixed, engraved stainless steel 24h scale. But GMT watches at Bell & Ross have recently evolved to offer more functionality and better legibility. For instance, the BR V2-93 GMT from the Vintage collection is equipped with an identical central GMT hand, but also benefits from a third time zone display with a rotating, bi-directional bezel. And that’s what comes now on the updated BR 03-93 GMT.
Being part of the instrument collection, you won’t be surprised to find back the emblematic square case of the brand, which is still measuring 42mm across. If the overall shape hasn’t changed much with the update, the case appears slightly more refined in its execution. The case is circular brushed on top with its 4 aligned and functional screws being polished. The sides of the case have a large polished bevel to add dynamism. The central case is vertically brushed. Identical in proportions to the previous iteration, the new BR 03-93 GMT remains also identical for its specifications, with a 100m water-resistance, a solid steel caseback and a screw-down crown.
The most important difference in this update, you’ve probably guessed, is the presence of a bi-directional rotating bezel. Allowing to display a third time zone, it is made of stainless steel with 24 clicks, and the insert is anodized aluminium with a two-tone red and black colour scheme. Thus, it means that in addition to the central hand that displays a second time zone, the bezel enables reading a third time zone. Rotating it clockwise subtracts hours and anti-clockwise adds hours.
The dial has also been refreshed. It now comes with a sunray-brushed pattern. The Arabic numerals are applied and vertically brushed and the hour markers are now filled with Super-LumiNova. Classic B&R luminous hands are still used for the hours (local time) and minutes, and the additional hour hand (home time) is now painted red to match the bezel. The date is displayed at 4h30, in a circular tone-on-tone window.
Inside the case of this updated Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT no evolutions, as it is still powered by the well-known and robust BR-CAL.303 – which is based on a Sellita SW-330. This automatic movement, with 4Hz frequency and 42h power reserve, is what we typically call a desk GMT, as the crown independently sets the GMT hand by one-hour increments, and not the local time hand (as in a Rolex GMT for instance).
Bell & Ross diving watches offer the perfect solutions when exploring an environment that is as fascinating, as dangerous. The maritime expertise of the brand is born from the convergence of the knowledge and skills of designers, master watchmakers and underwater experts. Each timepiece is designed to adapt to its specific surroundings.
Bell & Ross has developed Diver Bronze timepieces that are perfectly in-keeping with the marine depth. After releasing a black version in 2018, a green version in 2019, and a blue one last year, the brand is now completing its shade card with red.
Its case and bezel are made of satin-polished CuSn8 Bronze, an alloy combining 92% Copper and 8% Tin, that is deeply linked to diving history as it was used in the past for deep-sea helmets and naval construction. Adorning hints of pink, the bronze will age well. The patina will emphasize the authentic and unique character of this Diver watch, much-loved by collectors.
Anodised red for the bezel, red lacquer for the dial and a reddish-brown strap. The 3 shades work in perfect harmony and feature a high-quality finish. As on previous versions, all the metal parts of the case are made from bronze except the case-back, which is made from stainless steel, and the anodised aluminium bezel ring.
Available in a limited edition of 999, the Bell & Ross 03-92 Diver Red Bronze sports the watch‘s emblem, a deep-sea diver’s helmet that is engraved on the case-back. Precious yet resistant, the BR 03-92 Diver Red Bronze is full of character and designed to accompany the gentleman adventurer both on land and at sea.
The brand’s constant strive for excellence, challenge and innovation is confirmed in this elegant BR 03-92 Diver Red Bronze that meets all the standards for diving watches set by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, ISO 6425. Water- resistant to 300 metres, it is ready to conquer the depths of the ocean.
The matte brown leather strap and beige stitching confirms the watch’s authentic vintage spirit but can be replaced with a rubber strap for use while diving.
Bell & Ross has decked out its Replica BR 03-92 Diver Bronze in a striking, limited-edition shade of red, rounding out an series of annual color drops dating back to 2018.
The eye-catching pairing follows a full bronze, black dial from 2018 which was followed with a green bezel and dial in 2019 and blue bezel/dial in 2020.
The hue is applied to the dial as a lacquer and on the solid bronze bezel as an anodised aluminum insert ring.
While bronze dive watches are a relatively new concept, the material is certainly authentic, having been used in boatbuilding for hundreds of years and, more pertinently, diving helmets since the 19th Century.
Bell & Ross uses a CuSn8 alloy, a mix of 92% copper and 8% tin, so the bronze watches it produces will develop a patina over time as opposed to, say, Tudor’s bronze watches, which have been stabilised with the addition of aluminum to the mix.
Bell & Ross’ 42mm BR 03-92 collection, which is rated water resistant to 300m, also shows how far manufacturing techniques and tolerances have come in the last few decades as square watch cases were historically difficult to make waterproof.
The watch is supplied with both reddish brown calfskin leather and black rubber straps with 999 pieces being made. Available now via Bell & Ross, the BR 03-92 Diver Red Bronze is priced $220
Elsewhere in watches, De Bethune recreates the galaxy on a 4.5 billion year old dial.
Being a brand specialized in pilot’s watches – and not only aeroplane pilots, but also racing pilots with a Formula 1-based partnership – Bell & Ross is no stranger to the chronograph complication. In fact, you can find this kind of movement in pretty much all its collections. And today, there’s a new member coming to the Vintage family, with a case design that doesn’t feel familiar (at first…) Meet the new, robust, more masculine Bell & Ross BR V3-94 Black Steel.
The “Vintage” collection is B&R’s take on the classic, round watch – opposed to the signature, iconic BR01 and BR03 collections, with the typical “circle within a square” design. As such, it is more traditional and plays on the retro trend, with smaller proportions, highly domed sapphire crystals and clean displays. There are even some pretty cool editions in bronze, as this JPS-inspired model. As such, it is less of a tool/instrument piece than the rest of the collection… but today, the Parisian brand brings some robustness and boldness to the collection with a larger case and a redesigned shape. This is the new BR V3-94 Black Steel – compared below with the other classic chronograph of the collection, the BR V2-94.
As you can see, we’re not just looking at an increase in size but a complete overhaul of the watch… Basically, a new concept with a different vocation. The new Bell & Ross BR V3-94 Black Steel now has a 43mm case, with more massive shoulders and lugs, as well as an integrated inner-lug module. In fact, it isn’t entirely new to B&R, since this case was used in the past for Renault F1 Limited Editions only, and it now finds its way into the permanent collection.
More evolutions are noticeable. Other than the shape and size, the bezel is now bi-directional with a 60-minute scale printed on an anodized black aluminium insert, the layout has evolved from a bi-compax to a 3-6-9 display and the chronograph pushers are simple pumps instead of (not so practical) screwed buttons. All in all, this watch is better adapted for racing and action. A tachymeter scale is also present, printed on the inner flange.
In classic B&R style, the dial of the BR V3-94 Black Steel is matte black with highly contrasting white numerals and markers, and all the elements (hands and indexes) are filled with Super-LumiNova. This makes for a very monochromatic, technical and sporty watch with a more instrumental look than the BR V2-94. A date is positioned at 4h30 in a circular window.
Powering this new model is the Calibre BR-CAL.301, an automatic modular chronograph based on the tried-and-tested ETA 2894-2 architecture. It runs at 4Hz and stores up to 42 hours of energy. It is visible through a sapphire caseback. The BR V3-94 is available in two versions, on a black leather strap or on a steel bracelet. Both are equipped with folding clasp.
BR V3-94 R.S.20 For watchmaking enthusiasts, Bell & Ross is a leading brand in regards to design. To create the R.S.20 collection, the design studio started by researching the “topic” to give form to their inspiration. This year, the collection drew its inspiration from different sources.
BR V3-94 BLACK STEEL. Bell & Ross is expanding its Vintage collection with the introduction of the new BR V3-94 Black Steel. A modern touch has been added by redesigning the diameter of the case. The model sports the classic circular case of this range, now tuned-up to 43 mm ‘XL’ proportions.
The Bell & Ross BR V3-94 R.S.19 is priced at S$6,400 (for the calfskin strap version; S$6,900 for the steel bracelet model), and it is limited to 999 pieces. For a racing enthusiast, the R.S.19 offers collectors an interesting timepiece with a rather handsome aesthetic.
The United States Army Air Corps standardized paint colors to be used on military assets in 1939. The Joint Aircraft Committee’s Subcommittee on Standardization elected to implement the the ANA (Army Navy Aircraft) color standard. This color standard created ANA 616, otherwise known as “Desert Sand.” Much like Olive Drab, this color has come to define military equipment, and to the general public it’s instantly recognizable as something purely tactical, as well as functional.
So it’s no surprise that bell and ross br v2-92 military beige chose the color scheme for the dial of the new BR V2-92 sports watch. The company has made a name – and defined an identity – with large square-cased watches designed after cockpit instrumentation. But the V2-92 is nothing like those – instead it thoughtfully straddles a number of traditional watch categories. The V2-92 has the face of a field watch, the bezel of a dive watch, and the personality of something straight from Operation Desert Shield.
There’s a certain balance to this watch that’s hard to come by; the models typically associated with Bell & Ross don’t quite exemplify the same sort of utilitarian design that the V2-92 gets right. It’s a total military mash-up, with design elements borrowed from field watches and dive watches packaged in a thin case. The domed crystal adds some additional thickness, for a total of 12mm thickness overall, but thanks to the thin case and high domed crystal you still get a very wearable watch.
The late ’80s saw the arrival of the Desert Battle Dress Uniform as the US military presence in desert regions increased. It was nicknamed “cookie dough camouflage” for its hues of tan and brown. The V2-92 feels like it could have been issued right alongside this battle dress uniform, but could it stand up to the same rigors?
One hundred meters of water resistance puts it closer to field watch territory than in the dive watch camp, and the bi-directional bezel doesn’t offer the same sort of safety as a unidirectional bezel, but I don’t think this is the watch to take diving anyway. It’s a sort of do-it-all watch; a jack of all trades that sacrifices doing one thing really well in order to do a good job at the mix of situations an everyday watch is used for. I don’t think the target demographic will take any points off for the one-in-a-million chance that a bezel gets knocked off by a few clicks underwater. From a purely practical standpoint, a bi-directional bezel makes more sense anyway; when you have gloves on, you want to turn the bezel the least amount of distance possible. What this also means is that typical “bezel slop” isn’t present, instead you get an affirmative click in either direction. A display caseback may also contribute to the level of water resistance, but it frames the lightly finished BR-CAL.302 nicely.
While the enthusiast world might have trouble with date wheels, the Swiss industry as a whole just doesn’t seem to want to let them go. Naturally, there is a date wheel on this model, but it’s integrated so thoughtfully that it shouldn’t bother even the most cranky no-date purist (I’m one of them). The date wheel is color matched, and this isn’t a standard black or white-dialed watch, either. It’s a very specific hue of military beige, and the window is rather small. Again, this watch strikes an admirable balance between typically competing camps.
The V2-92 wears the same typography as other Bell & Ross watches, but it appears softer, and the domed crystal distorts and diffuses it in a way that tones down the boldness found of some of the better-known models in the line. The bracelet also features polished center links. It balances out the hardcore tool watch aesthetic, but it’s also something you would never find on a watch that was actually engineered for the military in the modern era, anyway. You will, however, find an elastic canvas strap made famous by the Marine Nationale, included with the V2-92. Originally, the legend goes, paratroopers fashioned straps for their issued watches from the stretchy parachute webbing. The Bell & Ross strap features color-matched desert tan-accented black paracord.
The “vintage-inspired” branding is perhaps manifested in the domed crystal, but this watch certainly channels an earlier era of Bell & Ross, an era when the nascent company released watches like the Type Démineur, a watch designed for bomb disposal units, or the Space 3, a chrono that just screams “shuttle era.” Bell & Ross watches were initially produced by tool watch maker Sinn; the V2-92 shares a lot of the same design language as the Sinn-era Bell & Ross models, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Collectors are now considering watches from the ’80s and ’90s as “vintage,” and the V2-92 is branded as a vintage-inspired timepiece. The design of the watch, much like that of the A-10 Warthog that shined during the Desert Shield conflict in 1990, works just as well in 2019.
The Aeronavale is the aviation branch of the French Navy. Breguet famously equipped the Aeronavale with the battle-ready Type-20 pilot chronographs, which have been, and still are, ceaselessly coveted, collected, and copied. However, with the new bell and ross br v2-92 aeronavale 41-millimeter, Bell & Ross has created a watch suited not to battle garb but to the French Navy’s beautiful gold and blue full dress uniforms.
The Aeronavale is not a “real” military watch. In fact, the French Navy had nothing to do with it. Rather, Bell & Ross simply dreamed it up. Bell & Ross can get pretty conceptual this way, with recent examples including their copper-dialed Bellytanker (designed for an imaginary vintage land-speed-record scenario) and their sporty Racing Bird (meant to accompany a computer-generated high-speed plane).
On the surface Bell & Ross’ concepts can seem lofty, but I’ve found that the concepts help bring these watches down-to-earth by eliminating the pretense that a mechanical watch is, today, a real tool. When you consider that a life-long American civilian like me regularly wears a watch that Bell & Ross dreamed up to complement the French Navy Air Division’s full dress uniform, the whole enterprise takes on an air of delightfully absurd costuming. But, somehow, overtly acknowledging that we’re all playing dress-up seems to temper the absurdity.
But why would I—or anyone for that matter—fall for a watch like the Aeronavale? Typically there’s some personal connection that sets the heart aflame, and I’m sure others who enjoy the Aeronavale will have their own story. For me, it goes back to childhood.
One summer when I was around 12, the US Navy’s sailing team borrowed my Dad’s sailboat for a tet-a-tet against a crew of scrappy yahoos from the Buffalo Yacht Club. Predictably, the Navy’s clean-cut sailors breezily command victory. Later that night the Navy Band played the most badass funk—all of them in full dress uniforms like some strange spin-off of The Village People; the horn section lock-stepping to “Ladies’ Night” by Kool & The Gang; the dangerously handsome lead singer flirting with everyone’s wives and daughters. Utterly gobsmacked, Navy-cool has enchanted ever since.
Funny, though, that I didn’t fall in love with the Aeronavale’s predecessor, the 42-millimeter BR123 in the same colorway that Bell & Ross released in 2016. That watch has a significantly larger dial, and I felt like a poseur sporting such a huge blue and gold billboard. Thankfully, Bell & Ross has been following the trend toward smaller watches, and this new 41-millimeter 92-V2 Aeronavale is one of the best fitting, most elegant, and properly proportioned watches I own. It delivers just enough Navy-cool.
All of the B&R 92-V2 watches run on the BR-CAL.302, an adaptation of the increasingly ubiquitous Sellita SW300-1, which itself is a near-clone of ETA’s 2892. The “-1” indicates that this movement has beefed-up teeth on the gear train, which Sellita claims reduces inaccuracies introduced by shock. Bell & Ross doesn’t disclose whether they’ve made any mechanical upgrades, and the only visible modification is the engraved logo and other subtle touches on the rotor. As with all SW330s, its a-magnetic Nivaflex hairspring oscillates 28,800 times an hour, it includes an Incabloc anti-shock system, and it can store up to 42 hours of power. The movement is visible through a sapphire crystal mounted in the handsome screwed-in case back.
Being vintage-inspired, the entire case is polished to perfection, its shape traditional and elegant, its connections seamless and sharp. This is high-quality metalwork, as impressive under a loupe as it is at arms length. Like all of Bell & Ross’s vintage-inspired pieces, the lugs are long and leave a sizable gap between the strap and the case, which affords a clear view of the excellent connection where the bezel, case, and lugs meet. This can be a contentious detail, but I adore it.
The crown threads in and out like it’s dipped in butter, and the robust crown guards—which match the case so well that they look like a third pair of lugs—are visually and ergonomically unobtrusive. The crown is signed with the iconic “&” that’s come to stand for Bell & Ross, and even the minute details of that signature exhibit flawless brushing and polishing.
The bezel has a polished coin-edge which slightly overhangs the case, thus providing ample grip and a classic look. The bezel clicks 120 times per rotation, and, because the Aeronavale is a flight-oriented watch, the bezel is bi-directional. Though it moves into position with perfect alignment, like most bi-directional bezels there is a bit of play when stationary. The blue anodized aluminum of the bezel insert matches the dial to a tee, and the gold 60-minute markers similarly match the gilt markers on the dial.
The curved, anti-reflective sapphire crystal is a thing of true beauty, almost indistinguishable from acrylic other than the deadened sound it produces when I drum on it with my fingernail (acrylic is more resonant than sapphire). The crystal’s curves produce creamy, dreamy visual distortions, and, although neither the edge of the dial nor the tip of the hands curve downward—as so many vintage dials and hands do—at certain viewing angles the crystal’s distortions create the illusion of curvature toward the polished steel rehaut. All told, the Aeronavale’s crystal is among the most convincing sapphire imitations of acrylic I’ve seen.
I know I’m supposed to join the chorus lamenting the ills of date apertures placed at 4:30, but I’ve grown to love these discrete, circular date windows. And thank you, Bell & Ross, for not interrupting any of the Aeronavale’s gloriously legible gold numerals and markers with the date aperture (a big pet peeve of mine). On the Aeronavale, the date wheel is rendered in the same radiant blue as the dial, and the numerals are in white paint that matches the minute track, logo, and three lines of spec text on the dial.
The Aeronavale is rated to 100-meters of water resistance, so I will SCUBA dive in it, though I can’t recommend doing so to anyone else because watch brands claim that you need a better rating in order to dive deep. The WR rating has me questioning what qualifies as a Dressy Tool Watch, or DTW, a category that Ilya and I, in true Bell & Ross fashion, simply dreamed up. We disqualified rotating bezels as too “tooly,” but because the Aeronavale is dressy enough for full dress military uniforms—arguably the dressiest outfit a person can wear—I am tempted to make an exception and declare the Aeronavale a full-on DTW.
Attributes that make the Aeronavale so dressy include the fully polished case, the radially brushed blue dial, the vertically-brushed gilt numerals and markers, the dual-tone beveled hands, and the unique “ice-blue” calfskin strap. Tally that all up, and you’ve got quite a fancy presentation. The whole package looks like something you’d wear to meet a dignitary.
The dual-tone hands deserve a closer look, as they are brushed on one half and polished on the other. This treatment—which is found on a few watches including some of Mido’s offerings—creates the illusion of a much more deeply beveled hand while also shortening the stack of hands on the central arbor. The visual trick is quite convincing—so convincing that I missed it entirely until Ilya pointed it out. Bell & Ross has skeletonized those hands and filled them with Super-LumiNova, though, as with many of their watches, the small quantity of lume makes it seem like an afterthought. The upshot is that the Bell & Ross made no concessions to lume as they loaded the dial with those vertically brushed gilt numerals and markers. Lastly, the relative lack of lume reinforces the notion that the Aeronavale is more costume than tool.
If you’ve still got doubts about its dress watch status, check out the Aeronavale’s “ice blue” patent leather strap. It fades from deep dark blue at the edges to a muted mid-blue at the center, and the white stitching picks up the white paint on the dial and date disc. I adore this strap, though its something I’d never have leaned toward outside of this context. The signed deployant clasp is mirror-polished like the case, features snail engraving inside the buckle, and it is a cinch to open and close. Deployant clasps on leather are often a bit bulky on the backside of the wrist, and this one is no exception. That bulk doesn’t bother me, however, and it’ll be a personal choice between the steel bracelet (which I’ve only handled in a boutique for a moment), a standard pin-buckle on the leather strap (which is easy enough to convert), or a third-party strap that suits your fancy (which is half the fun).
We have come to like the Bell & Ross brand more and more with added exposure to the watches. At first blush, they seem to be a second tier brand, but with closer examination, the watches are certainly quite nice. Like the BR X1 RS17 we reviewed and wore for a week. The more we wore it, the more we liked it. These are watches to be worn to be appreciated. The third generation of the Bell & Ross Vintage collection is no different from the BR X1. The Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Black Steel Chronograph charmed its way into our hearts during the two weeks it was on loan to us. We review it here.
The Vintage family made its début during Bell & Ross’ early years. The watches of this collection are characterised by the classical round case with a collection in a range of complications, ranging from chronograph, flyback chronograph, dual timezone to the simple date and small second hands. The collection draws its inspiration mainly from the military, and as the name suggests, with a vintage kind of feel.
The collection features two watches, a time only watch with three hands, and a chronograph. The bell and ross BR V2-94 replica is the chronograph.
Both come in a 41 mm case, which is flatter than the previous generation. And available in a new polished and satin finished steel bracelet.
The case is in 316L stainless steel, with a polished and brushed case finishing. The case shape is round curving gradually around the sides to a graceful and elegant lug. The bezel is black with a graduated tachymeter scale.
Allow us first to address the elephant in the room. Many casual observers would accuse the overall look of the BR V2-94 dial to be reminiscent of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. While at a quick glance this may have a hint of truth, but on close examination, they are like chalk and cheese.
As they say, the devil is in the details, and here we observe that the markers for 12 and 6 are Arabic on the Bell & Ross, while the Speedy features bar markers all round. The hands are also dis-similar, with the B&R’s hour hand larger and thicker. The two watches also glow differently in the dark. The Omega’s bezel incorporates a lume, but the B&R does not. However, we feel the B&R lume is possibly applied thicker on the hands, and the result is a good, clean, very legible lume on the dial side, as this photograph illustrates.
On the case sides, the chronograph pushers, for example feature screw down crowns, and perhaps remind us more of the old Rolex Daytona like the Ref. 6263.
The BR V2-94 is available in two versions. One is a leather strap, and the other is a steel bracelet. We had the bracelet version for our review, and found it to be very handsome, well made and comfortable. We switched it around with some vintage-inspired straps and found that it looked as good on a leather or fabric strap. We have some pictures of this on our Instagram @Deployant.
Testing with a Scanning Acoustic Microscope
Of interest, and a nod to the vintage inspiration is the use of an ultra-curved sapphire crystal, almost a box at the very edges. Curiosity got the better of us, and as uber geeks, we could not help but to make an image scan of the crystal through a Scanning Acoustic Microscope. The image we got from the scan is shown below, taken by our Chief Technical Elf, Sharon Tan. The image is a composite scan as the probe traverses from the top of the crystal to the bottom. For a fuller explanation of the SAM and the images, we have prepared a corollary article here. Must read for the geeks!
The movement is the BR-CAL.301, which is a chronograph module under the dial powered by an ETA 2892 base movement. This is the same movement as the one used in the BR X1 RS17 we reviewed earlier. The movement features a column wheel system as the heart of the chronograph. Column wheel chronographs are more highly regarded by connoisseurs. The activation of pushers to start, stop and reset are usually more precise and have a more crisp feel. And this is the case with the BR V2-94. The activation of the chronograph, though requiring a firm push, is smooth, crisp, and the force needed to start, stop and reset are quite similar. There is a small jump of the seconds hand as the chronograph starts, but this is not unusual, especially in chronographs equipped with a horizontal clutch.
Movement finishing is adequate to allow the watch to function properly without any issues. The base ETA is robust and has sufficient torque to be easily up the task of driving the chronograph module.
A chronograph at this price point is perhaps more suited as a style statement rather than a technological tour de force or an appreciation on the haute horologie aspects of the chronograph. The movement powering the VR2-94 is a capable workhorse. It is not designed to win beauty contests, or excite horology geeks, but to work quietly and reliably. The styling of the watch is what makes it attractive and perhaps what makes it charming. We took the watch out on a photoshoot, incorporating the vintage concept. Please enjoy the following photo essay.
As we reflect over the two weeks or so we spent collectively with the Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 Chronograph, we feel a bit like Professor Higgins in the 1913 stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. As he reflects over the warts in his relationship with Eliza, he suddenly realises that he is has indeed grown accustomed to her face, and in love with her. So it is with us. The watch made its rounds among our writers. Most were not immediately gushing to try on the watch at first blush. Most had the initial feel of the apparent similarity to the Moonwatch, but we dispelled that. But after a day or so with the Bell & Ross Vintage, all our staff who tried the watch came away loving the BR V2-94. Mostly for the way it looks. Quiet, discrete, handsome. The vintage aura is pervading. So as we conclude our time with the BR V2-94, we shed a little tear and will miss this watch.
The search for a good GMT watch never ends – and one of Bell & Ross’ latest entrants to this crowded two-time zone arena is the replica BR V2-93 GMT. Continuing on with Bell & Ross vintage and military history-inspired modern day luxury timepiece tradition, the BR V2-93 GMT blends a series of design elements into one rather cohesive product. One of the most popular types of watches for enthusiasts, GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) watches are useful because they show two time zones on the same dial allowing them to serve as ideal travel companions. Given that people who enjoy high-end timepieces also happen to travel quite a bit – the popularity of GMT watches for the enthusiast should be easy to understand.
Bell & Ross is no stranger to GMT watches and the BR V2-93 GMT is the newest design flavor more so than adding something radically new from a technological or material perspective. Detailing on the BR V2-93 GMT watch is very good and it is interesting to investigate the various classic wristwatch designs that Bell & Ross pulled from as inspiration for this product. In my opinion, this BR V2-93 GMT replica is a design amalgamation mixing elements of classic Rolex timepieces and the cockpit instrument design favored by major Bell & Ross military and aviation-themed watches.
It’s the curation of design elements, as well as the elegance of the design which is novel here, and I think Bell & Ross did a good job. If only because even though there are a lot of recognizable parts on the BR V2-93 GMT – it doesn’t immediately look like any other GMT watch currently on the market. That is always a challenge because a brand like Bell & Ross thrives by finding the sweet spot between “familiar” and “novel.” That means they are at their best when a customer associates a new watch product with the right type of aesthetic theme but does not confuse the new watch for something which already exists.
The orange arrow GMT hand is probably the most recognizable element borrowed from the world of Rolex – being similar to those used on various Rolex Explorer II models. The rest of the dial very much fits the cockpit instrument clock aesthetic which has been tied to Bell & Ross since the 2004 release of the BR01 Instrument collection. Since then Bell & Ross has rendered this dial design in a vast number of ways and in a range of case designs. The flat, slightly glossy black dial used high contrast thick-printed hour markers and attractive lume-painted hands. Note that the faceted hands are satin-finished on one half and polished on the other. I love this look and tend to gravitate toward this type of hand design. This mixture of elements offers a bit of a dressy look combined with the functional heritage that such a Bell & Ross dial is best known for. The dial is elegant, legible, and very distinctly a Bell & Ross while at the same time it evokes classic design elements beloved by generations of watch enthusiasts.
Over the dial is a “box-style” domed sapphire crystal design to mimic the shape of some traditional acrylic crystals. An effective application of AR (anti-reflective) coating ensures a glare-free viewing experience when you look at straight-on. Around the dial is a bi-directional rotating bezel with 24 positions. The bezel turns assuredly with solid notched for each of the 24 positions. This is the only scale for the GMT hand, but turning it can help you reference an additional third timezone if you know how to use this feature correctly. Bell & Ross gave the GMT bezel and attractive two-tone design mixing black with gray. I think it was a nice way to offer the “AM/PM” look of a bezel without making it too colorful. The color on this watch is sparse (on purpose) and limited to a bit of dial text and the matching orange GMT hand). My only gripe about the bezel is that it is in traditional anodized aluminum. That makes for a nice vintage look, but today’s watch buyers are increasingly interested in modern bezel materials such as ceramic which boast far better scratch resistance. The good news is aluminum bezel inserts are inexpensive and easy to replace – if you scratch up your bezel on the BR V2-93 GMT replica watch badly.
Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2893 automatic movement which offers the time, GMT hand, and date. Bell & Ross calls this their caliber BR-CAL.303. It operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. Not unheard of but a bit uncommon for Bell & Ross in such models – this watch is equipped with a sapphire crystal display back which allows you to view the movement. Bell & Ross chose movements with a nice level of decoration and on the sapphire caseback is printed a novel design which has a plane flying around the globe and the statement “GMT 24H.” If that alone doesn’t categorize this product as a traveler’s watch, I don’t know what would.
The BR V2-93 GMT replica watch exists in Bell & Ross’ “Vintage” collection where you can find other “BR V2” models that share this case and bracelet design. Currently, this is the only BR V2 model with a GMT complication – and the price premium for it above the collection’s three-hand models is modest at about $300. That also means if you like this watch overall but prefer a non-GMT model, you can explore the Bell & Ross V2-92 models.
The polished and brushed case is beautiful and comfortable being in all steel and 41mm wide. With the crystal, the case is about 12mm thick, but it wears slim in my opinion. Lug-to-lug distance is a very wearable 48mm. The case has a screw-down crown and is water resistant to 100 meters. Bell & Ross offers the BR V2-93 watch on both a steel bracelet or “canvas-style” rubber strap. The bracelet costs $300 more than the strap which is not unreasonable.
Design-wise the BR V2 bracelet evokes the look of the Rolex President bracelet, but in a unique design for Bell & Ross. I really enjoy how the bracelet gracefully tapers from 22mm wide where it connects at the lugs to 18mm wide at the fold-over deployant clasp. The well-made deployant clasp is attractive and sturdy, but simple in its design. Today watch lovers demand bracelets with tool-less micro-adjust features. The BR V2 bracelet doesn’t have that, but it does have a few spring bar micro-adjust holes in the deployant which offer a more precise fit – crucially important in my opinion for any everyday sports watch on a bracelet.
Mixing the world of vintage sports watches, aviation instruments, and world travel, the Bell and Ross BR V2-93 GMT is a sturdy, all-purpose two-time zone watch with an elegant and masculine personality. It’s a high-end fashion watch for those who are attracted by vintage sport watch designs but hardly want to fuss with something actually old and finicky. I support Bell & Ross’ mission (along with others who offer similar modern-made vintage-inspired sports watch) in producing such watches if only because they are so satisfying to wear and own. For those who love the look of an orange GMT hand, want a comfortable round 41mm wide case, and appreciated a timeless aviation-inspired dial – the Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT will be a satisfying timepiece acquisition
The BR V2-93 GMT replica watch exists in Bell & Ross’ “Vintage” collection where you can find other “BR V2” models that share this case and bracelet design. Currently, this is the only BR V2 model with a GMT complication – and the price premium for it above the collection’s three-hand models is modest at about $300. BR V2-93 GMT BLUE
Bell & Ross had to evolve. This was the mission of the “Vintage Collection”. Entirely redesigned in 2017, this year the brand adds a few vintage elements to make this collection even cooler, with the Steel Heritage. Today, we take a closer look at the BR V2-92 Steel Heritage. Bell and Ross BR V2-94 AÉRONAVALE BRONZE
The Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Beige: 41mm x 12mm, 100 meters water resistance, with domed sapphire crystal and sapphire caseback. Steel bezel with anodized black aluminum ring; bi-directional with 60 minute scale; screw-down crown. Movement, BR-CAL 302 (Sellita SW-300-1 base) 28,800 vph, 38 hour power reserve. Bell and Ross BR V2-92 MILITARY GREEN
The Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 on the bonnet of a vintage Alfa Romeo GT1300 Junior circa 1973 which is prepared for racing. The car features roll bars in the cabin which is stripped of most creature comforts. On the dashboard of the Alfa Romeo GT1300 Junior. The vintage feel of the BR V2-94 blending in with the early 1970s feel of the car. Bell and Ross BR V2-93 GMT BLUE
Since it was founded, Bell & Ross has been passionate about military history and its functional and aesthetic archetypes. Flight instruments will always be a source of watchmaking inspiration for its designers. As such, military specifications provide Bell & Ross timepieces with rigorous and exacting standards in terms of legibility, functionality, precision and reliability. Modern-day codes also drive Bell & Ross to revisit historic pieces to create new models whose design and technology are in line with current trends.
It is in this spirit that, this year, Bell & Ross has unveiled three singular watches that evoke its three realms of expression: Sea, air and land. Both classic and modern, all three are driven by a reliable Swiss mechanical movement with automatic winding and are equipped with a “NATO Stretch” strap with a practical closure system, created using parachute straps. The practical strap makes for a very sharp, on-trend look and is in line with the neo-vintage trend which is popular with its fans.
Following on from the BR V2-93 GMT 24H launched in 2018, this year, Bell & Ross has completed its range of watches targeted at modern frequent travellers – both professional and civilian – in search of a chic and functional timepiece. The contemporary design of the BR V2-93 GMT Blue is perfectly suited to 21st century travelers.
Its 41-mm round steel case is characteristic of the Vintage series, with integrated protection for the screw-down crown. With a galvanic blue case-back featuring a sunray pattern, the dial is a nod to the world of air travel and long transatlantic trips, while the second hand counterweight is subtly styled in the shape of an aircraft. The bi-directional rotating bezel in two-tone anodized aluminium (grey for daytime and blue for night-time) means the time in a second time zone (shown on a 24-hour scale) can be read instantly thanks to the fourth hand, or the “GMT” hand, with its stand out red arrow.
For optimal legibility, the four faceted hands and the decal indices and numerals boast a photo-luminescent coating in white Super-LumiNova
Based on the principle that the essential should never give way to the superfluous, with this new BR V2-92 Military Green model, Bell & Ross engineers and watchmakers have designed a practical watch perfectly suited to all uses.
Paying tribute to the men on the ground who were the first to use the wristwatch as fundamental instruments for their missions, Bell & Ross has unveiled a sport-chic civilian version of its BR V2-92 which evokes nature and wide-open spaces. Staying faithful to the military technical specifications, the anti-reflective matte khaki dial is legible both day and night, the sapphire crystal is scratch-resistant and the Swiss mechanical movement with automatic winding is highly precise and has been tested for all types of missions.
To ensure optimal legibility, the BR V2-92 Military Green shares the same lineage as watches from the Bell & Ross “LUM” collection which are treated with green-coloured Super-LumiNova C3 to maximise their luminescent qualities. Playing on both the discreet nature of the khaki camouflage dial and its functional design, it is aimed at professionals and daily adventurers searching for a timepiece which is robust and timeless.
Faithful to lines from the Bell & Ross Vintage collection, its 41-mm round steel case with a crown guard is equipped with a glass dome, or “glass box”, and a black bi-directional rotating bezel in anodized aluminium to measure short periods.
In a nod to well-known Bell & Ross “Military Type” references, the BR V2-92 Military Green continues this connection both on a technical and stylistic level. The date is displayed in a round window at 4.30 – one of the brand’s signature features – the khaki disc inside being the same colour as the dial. Adventurous and urban, the BR V2-92 Military Green goes back to basics yet continues the great tradition of professional timepieces.
In a nod to the Vintage BR Aéronavale collection, this year Bell & Ross went a step further and unveiled a new BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze in a limited edition of 999 pieces that combines functionality and elegance while subtly reflecting the prestigious ceremonial uniform of French naval officers.
This elegant chronograph is clearly aimed at lovers of beautiful timekeeping instruments. In stabilised CuAl7Si2 bronze (91% copper, 7% aluminium and 2% silicon), its 41-mm case stands out with its distinctive yellow gold colour. Known for its changing nature that gives it its unique character, bronze – a material cherished by Bell & Ross – provides a whole palette of unique shades.
Similar to the other chronographs from the Vintage series, the BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze is equipped with a fixed bezel, here in navy blue anodised aluminium. Its ocean blue dial is decorated with gilt metal indices and numerals and baton-shaped skeletonised hands in white Super-LumiNova for optimal legibility.
The functional, ultra-curved “glass box” sapphire crystal reinforces both the classic style of the piece and its resistance. In this sense, the BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze meets all the criteria of the military technical specifications intended for such a timepiece. This refined chronograph featuring screw-down pushers will appeal to collectors looking for a model with a vintage feel which evokes the “bi-compax” chronographs from the 1960s which featured two sub-dials.