It’s been many years since I’ve had the opportunity discuss Bell & Ross, and that’s not for lack of love for the brand, it’s simply because since its launch almost a decade ago, the BR 02 is pretty much all the French (predominantly aviation inspired) brand have contributed to the world of dive watches.
And while the skies have been B&R’s mainstay for the past ten years – they have decided to depart from the runways and once again dip their toes back into the brine with a collection of three outstanding new nautical watches in CuSn8 Bronze – called the Instrument de Marine.
Marine instruments first appeared in the 17th century with the purpose of guiding ships crossing the oceans and seas at that time. Offering a modern reinterpretation, the Instrument de Marine collection has been inspired by these timing instruments that were themselves designed for use aboard vessels guiding mariners throughout naval history.
The new Marine Instrument collection has taken the very essence of the legendary 18th century clock invented by John Harrison and has scaled it down to a wearable watch size.
The cases of the BR 01 Marine and BX1 Skeleton Chronograph have been crafted in CuSn8 bronze, an alloy that recalls the brass used for the surrounds on the original ship’s clocks.
A patina is formed when it comes into contact with air and moisture, taking on a charming brown and greenish finish. With no two-oxidation processes alike, these watches are transformed into unique pieces.
The BX1 Tourbillon Chronograph is a little more special than its two shipmates, the BR 01 Marine and Bx1 Skeleton Chrono, so B&R turned to a rare and noble material, gold, the perfect choice for such an exceptional model.
Its warm color also pairs beautifully with the Indian rosewood used for its case. Grade 5 Titanium was also chosen by B&R as a tough and lightweight material for the watch’s mid-section.
So how about wood on watch? I’ve cringed more than once at the use of wood in watchmaking – however in the case of the Instrument de Marine collection which makes use of Indian rosewood, a rare timber with a warm pinkish red color and very fine elegant grain –
harking back to the hulls and masts of historical ocean-going vessels - surprisingly offers a good degree of compressed strength and is most certainly evocative of the ocean. Working with it requires a very meticulous approach. Firstly, it is shaved into very fine sheets, which are pressed, machined and then varnished.
The BR 01 Instrument de Marine is powered by a caliber BR-CAL.203, a wand-wound mechanical movement with: 17 jewels, 21,600 vph and a power-reserve of 56-hours.
Its functions include: hours, minutes and small seconds at 6 o’clock.
Its case measures 46mm in diameter and is constructed from a combination of: Precious wood, G5 Titanium and CuSn8 bronze.
It is fitted with anti-reflective treated Sapphire crystal. Its dial is in white lacquer with Roman numerals and Blued hands. Water-resistance is 100 meters.
The BR 01 Instrument de Marine comes on a brown alligator strap with a CuSn8 Bronze pin- buckle. It has been made in a Limited Edition of 500 pieces.
The BR-X1 Instrument de Marine is powered by a caliber BR-CAL.313 automatic mechanical movement with and ‘X’-shaped upper bridge, 56 jewels, 28,800 vph and a Skeleton chronograph.
Its functions include: hours, minutes, small-seconds at 3 o’clock, a skeleton date at 6 o’clock, a chronograph with: a 30-min timer at 9 o’clock and central chronograph seconds.
Its case measures 46mm in diameter and is constructed from a combination of: Precious wood, and CuSn8 bronze with a tinted Sapphire crystal caseback. Water-resistance is 100 meters.
Hidden beneath a grey-tinted Sapphire crystal is a dial with Gilt appliqué indices with Superluminova inserts. Gilt skeleton Superluminova-filled hour and minute hands and a Gilt aluminum 30-min chronograph timer disc complete the look.
The BR-X1 Instrument de Marine comes on a brown alligator strap with a CuSn8 Bronze pin- buckle. It has been made in a Limited Edition of 99 pieces.
The BR-X1 Tourbillon Instrument de Marine is powered by a caliber BR-CAL.283, hand-wound flying tourbillon with: a Mono-pusher column wheel chronograph, 282 components, 35 jewels, 21,600 vph and 4-day power reserve.
Its functions include: hours and minutes, chronograph with: 30-min timer at 11 o’clock, chronograph 60-sec timer at 1 o’clock. A power reserve indicator is at 9 o’clock while a Flying tourbillon is at 6 o’clock.
Its 45mm in diameter case is in 18 ct rose gold and precious wood with Rocker push-button, an anti-reflective treated Sapphire crystal and exhibition case-back. Its water-resistance is 100 meters.
Beneath its grey-tinted sapphire crystal is a dial with: Gilt appliqué indices with Superluminova inserts, and Gilt skeleton Superluminova-filled hour and minute hands.
The BR-X1 Tourbillon Instrument de Marine comes on a brown alligator strap with an 18ct Rose Gold pin- buckle. It has been made in a Limited Edition of 20 pieces.
So what do you think, folks? I must admit that I'm strangely drawn to them; not smitten but there's a real appreciation to the thought that has gone into them. Now when are B&R gonna update the BR 02 - it's about time! ;)