A Closer Look: Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber SkullBy Felix Scholz
Cyberpunk is having a moment. What initially began as a dystopian twist on science fiction in the 1980s has gone on to have a long cultural legacy and one that, thanks to CD Projekt Red’s ambitious game Cyberpunk 2077, is on the forefront of people’s minds.
While the link between literature, video games and high-end watchmaking might seem a bit of a leap, but one look at the futuristic BR 01 Cyber Skull from Bell & Ross, and that jump becomes a lot more manageable.
The Cyber Skull is the latest evolution in Bell & Ross’ memento mori-esque line, which first debuted in 2009, and you can instantly tell it’s something different. Previous ‘Skull’ watches have kept to a fairly well-trodden path of a traditional skull and crossbones motif, within the familiar square Bell & Ross case. The Cyber Skull offers something new. The matte black ceramic case is still square but in a modern, faceted form — reminiscent of a stealth fighter. I’ll come back to the case in a minute, but let’s look further inside.
Those facets continue on the inside of the case where, suspended in all its cyber glory, rests the titular skull. Black and futuristic, the skull and crossbones are an angular interpretation, that looks like something that sits between a modern sculptural artwork and cutting-edge military technology. In short: cyberpunk.
The skull and crossbones are, like the case, crafted from black ceramic and the movement uses the same clever animation that debuted on 2018’s ‘laughing skull’, that sees the skull’s jaw move as the mainspring winds or unwinds. It’s a cosmetic effect and one that is most obvious when winding. One can almost hear a sinister late 90s video game laugh coming out of this skull as you wind it. Almost.
The other interesting point about this movement is that it is exclusive to Bell & Ross, with the mechanism fitting within a skull-shaped plate that makes it perfect for this — ahem — skeletonised silhouette.
Let’s step back a second to that case though. You might have noticed that the formal name for this watch includes ‘BR 01’, which is the brand’s larger 46mm square case with exposed screws. That BR 01 case does not look like this one.
The case of the Cyber Skull has been radically redesigned, sleeker, the short lugs replaced with an integrated alternative with a streamlined rubber strap. The once-exterior screws are now sitting inside the faceted, shaped sapphire crystal. The ceramic case, which still measures 46mm across, maintains the ‘regular’ BR 01 case, while looking completely updated in the best possible way. In addition to the smooth lines, the ample open spaces inside allow plenty of room for the skull to shine. Really though, the question I ask myself looking at this watch is — will we see this case shape in more mainline Bell & Ross releases? I certainly hope so.
Calibre BR-CAL.208, hand-wound mechanical, hours and minutes, skull moves when wound.
Case and dial
Matte black ceramic, 46.5mm wide and 45mm tall, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. Skeletonised dial, skull and crossbones made from balck ceramic, hands with black Super-Luminova, visible balance at 12.
Black rubber with pin buckle.
The BR 01 Cyber Skull is limited to 500 pieces and is priced at 9,900 Euro.
More information: bellross.com