Internationally renowned and revered by timepiece cognoscenti everywhere, Bell & Ross has become a benchmark in the world of professional aviation watches, despite being relatively new to the industry.
For everything you need to know about this legendary French brand, look no further…
Bell & Ross was founded in 1992 as a university project between two lifelong friends, Bruno Belamich (Bell) and Carlos A. Rosillo (Ross), both of whom shared a vision of producing functional and durable timepieces. With their simple idea of ‘function shapes form’, they changed the world of horology as we know it today.
In terms of inspiration, the ampersand-logoed French brand has drawn from the history of aviation and the military specifications and technological advances that accompany it; as a result, each product that rolls from the assembly line is produced with the highest visual and performing qualities.
With this philosophy in mind, early models, such as the Space 1 (which was the first automatic chronometer to be worn in space) and the Bomb Disposal Type (a piece of wrist armour that made the harrowing job of defusing explosives much easier) grabbed the attention of enthusiasts.
Methods and values
The company not only wants its watches to look good, but it also wants them to be used as a tool and constant ally in order to assist those in professions where one must withstand extreme temperatures, undergo violent accelerations or resist dangerous pressures. So, to create something that will work under such circumstances, Bell & Ross enlists the expertise of pilots, divers, bomb disposal experts and astronauts when trying to develop timepieces with optimal functionality – the BR 01, for example, takes inspiration from the aesthetics of the clocks in the cockpit of an airline (a circle within a square).
Moreover, to ensure that it meets the expectations of its users, the label assembles a team of experts with complementary skill sets – designers, engineers and master watchmakers are all brought together and are guided by one single utilitarian and ergonomic-style motto: never let the essential be compromised by the superfluous.
It is then in the production facility at La Chaux-de-Fonds where the master watchmakers conceive, assemble and then fine-tune each Bell & Ross timepiece, and in order to guarantee high-quality, only the strictest quality controls are implemented, regardless of however complex the mechanism is.
As a result of its research and building process, Bell & Ross has built a reputation on functionality, precision, water-resistance and legibility, and today it’s the official supplier of the Space Lab Mission, The French Air Force, The Lafayette Escadrille and many other professionals of the extreme.
Throughout the years, Bell & Ross’ bulging portfolio of goods has traditionally been split into two iconic collections: Vintage and Instrument.
Debuting in the label’s early years, the Vintage collection pays tribute to key eras of the great aeronautical adventure, and particularly to the aviators who were the first professionals to consider the wristwatch as an asset on their missions.
With a modern design, it represents utility in its simplest form, and as the collection is built with military DNA, each model is made to meet a set of specifications that are established by the armed forces. They’re also watertight to ensure they are suitable for aquatic environments.
Typically, a watch from this line boasts a classic round case and comes with a range of complications, such as a dual time zone and small second hands.
The Instrument models pay homage to the circle-square-style clock from an airplane cockpit and adapt that aesthetic to fit on a wrist. Used by several elite establishments, there are four complementary instruments made in this range: the BR-X1, the BR 01, the BR 03 and the BRS.
And despite producing plenty of exceptional watches since its conception over 26 years ago, there are certain styles which epitomise the mechanical sophistication and technical innovation of the brand, and they include the Hydromax 11 100 M (the world-record winner for water-resistance in 1998), the Vintage Heure Sautante (a classic timepiece with a jumping hour – a movement designed by Swiss master watchmaker Vincent Calabrese) and the BR 01 Red Radar (a non-conformist piece of wrist armour that provides a radar-inspired way of reading time).
By combining refined aesthetics with the expertise of Haute Horlogerie, it’s little wonder why Bell & Ross has become the yardstick by which other houses measures themselves against.
Bell & Ross
Want more watches? These are the 10 classic timepieces you should have in your collection