In 2009, Bell & Ross made a lasting impression by breaking with traditional watchmaking codes with its first "Skull" BR 01. This year, the brand presents a surprising variant in a limited edition of 500 pieces. The new Bell & Ross BR 01 Skull Bronze —the inspiration for the Bell & Ross Skull Tourbillon for ONLY Watch auction— with its distinctive character, pays tribute to the epic of the parachutists of the Second World War. On their jumpsuits, these elite fighters proudly wore a crest bearing a skull and these words: "Death from Above". Falling from the sky at dawn on June 6, 1944, the troops of the 101st and 82nd American airborne divisions played a vital role in the Normandy landings. From time immemorial, the most formidable fighters have shown their courage by sporting such skulls, both to intimidate their adversaries and to ward off bad fortune. Today, while it continues to figure on a lot of military equipment —such as uniforms, emblems and even airplanes—, the famous "Jolly Roger" as decorative element appears as a talisman or a rebel symbol.
Faithful to the spirit of the 1944 parachutists and their emblem, the new Bell & Ross BR01 Skull Bronze of which we bring you this hands-on review live pictures, boldly displays a skull and crossbones formed by the bezel and the screws, which also happens to resemble the pirate flags of ancient times. Sporting the color black, which symbolizes death, the "phantom" monochrome dial features other traditional military codes with its hour and minute hands in the shapes of a dagger and the sabre. The dial is truly black in color, however, under strong light it appears graphite gray.
The bronze color of the case in its traditional 46 mm diameter and the aged look of the leather strap reinforce the vintage and warrior aspects of the watch. To give the new Bell & Ross BR01 Skull Bronze a unique look, Bell & Ross chose to produce its case using bronze with a micro-blasted finish. In perfect compliance with watchmaking quality standards, this alloy of 92% copper and 8% grade 5 titanium offers excellent resistance to wear while sporting a very distinctive color. Initially presenting a shade suggesting tones of pink or red gold, bronze acquires a patina over time, which gives it an incomparable ancient look.
This aged appearance is the result of bronze adapting to its environment —temperature, humidity, friction, etc. Without impacting the solidity and longevity of the material, this patina, which varies depending on the climate and the season, gives the new Bell & Ross BR01 Skull Bronze a particular coloring that makes every watch an absolutely unique piece.
While bronze has resolutely survived many millennia, Bell & Ross is bringing it into the modern age by combining it with grade 5 titanium, which gives the case back hypoallergenic properties and extreme lightness, making it very comfortable to wear. With its use of bronze and the reference to legendary military codes, the Bell & Ross BR 01 Skull Bronze constitutes a new icon. Yet this watch is also thoroughly contemporary; the famous 46 mm square case of the BR 01 contains an automatic movement which combines accuracy, solidity and performance.
A screw-down crown gives the watch a water resistance of up to 100 meters, while the sapphire crystal stands out with its golden indices in the shape of spikes, obtained by plating the inside with metal. To preserve the purity of the design and the aesthetic balance of the watch, its mechanism was designed to enable the hand spindle to be positioned at the exact centre of the skull. This is a distinctive position, as demonstrated by the decentered crown.
In a nod to charmingly vintage technology, the skull in the middle of the dial glows in the dark thanks to the use of appliqué B-light photoluminescent pigment on the surface of the dial. The skull glows bright and strong with a color that is right in between green and bluish.
Finally, a specific tanning technique to create worn-effect leather and tone-on-tone stitching give the brown strap its old-fashioned look. On the wrist, the watch wears exactly like all other Bell & Ross BR01s out there but even more cool.
Sticker Price $6,900 USD. For more info on Bell & Ross click here.