Bell & Ross Updates the Iconic BR 03
Bell & Ross isn’t killing the square just yet. Instead, Bell & Ross has refreshed the BR 03, first by giving it a smaller case. We talk to Fabien de Nonancourt, Managing Director of Bell & Ross, all about the new, yet subtle, makeover.
In 2005, the iconic BR 01 made its commanding debut with a robust 46mm case, followed by the equally successful 42mm model in 2006. Now, rather than reimagining their classic, Bell & Ross opted to fine-tune it.
Bruno Belamich, the brand’s Co-founder and Creative Director, explains the approach: “With the new BR 03, we modified the proportions of the collection by respecting its canons. Our goal was to preserve the identity that has made the BR 03 so successful, while adapting it to the new times and maintaining its allure.”
A mere 1mm doesn’t seem like a big deal, yet the subtle shift from 42mm to 41mm alters the visual and tactile experience of the watch. This includes the lugs that now measure 4mm, rounded corners, a narrower rubber strap, and is now equipped with the BR-CAL.302 caliber.
This automatic-winding movement has been a mainstay in most of Bell & Ross’ dive watches, mainly the BR 03-92 model, as well as in some BR 01s and the occasional Bellytanker. It’s fuss-free, powers the main hours and date, and offers an extended power reserve of 54 hours.
In spite of the new introduction, Bell & Ross isn’t discontinuing the BR 03 models in 42mm at all. They’ve been reduced in order to meet the current market demands of smaller watches, said Fabien de Nonancourt, Managing Director of Bell & Ross.
In the Instruments category alone (the other main categories being ‘Urban’ and ‘Vintage’), the brand is capable of making smaller watches, such as the BR S Auto, a compacted version at 39mm. These are equipped with the BR-CAL.302 caliber as well, however as the dial clearly shows, there isn’t much real estate for the oversized Arabic numerals.
BR 03 in steel and ceramic
The Copper, sporting a salmon-colored dial, gets its name and color from the galvanized copper treatment. Black numerals and indices are used for contrast, with blue metallic hands as a complementing accent.
BR 03: The Bell & Ross icon
When Bell & Ross launched the BR 05 in 2019, it was meant to be a modernized version of the original square watch, hence it introduced a more integrated shape, as well as an interpretation of a sporty steel bracelet. “The BR 05 and the BR 03 are both different interpretations of the flight instrument,” said de Nonancourt. “Our intention in making the BR 03 smaller is not to address the same people wearing the 05 — they’re two separate customers.
“People who wear Bell & Ross are typically male, as they make up 90 percent of our community. I would describe them as people who are looking for something different, but not ostentatious. He would have a bold personality, and perhaps believe that he’s an explorer.”
With the Bell & Ross identity anchored in place, what should Bell & Ross be communicating about next? “For a long time, our brand communication has been product-oriented,” said de Nonancourt.
“Now, that has changed a little bit. One of our first moves was the launch of the X5 last year and that focused on the movement and Swiss craftsmanship. For the relaunch of our 03, our campaign is more focused on the design story: the unmistakable round-in-a-square shape and our continued inspiration from the world of aviation.”
“Our brand partnerships have been very effective for us, especially in the aviation and military sectors. You can easily say your watches are the best for pilots, but what better way than to have real professionals be equipped with them? Sure, you can conduct hundreds of tests, but the ultimate test is having the watch in play, where they’re in extreme conditions. Our watches may not be on the red carpet, but they’re out there resisting G-force.”
Tech Specs: Bell & Ross BR 03 41mm
Movement: BR-CAL.302 automatic-winding caliber; 54-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes; Seconds; Date
Case: 41.0mm; Stainless steel or black ceramic; Sapphire crystal; Water-resistant to 100 meters
Dial: Black, brown or blue sunray, gilt copper (Steel); Black (with white or beige transfer numerals; with black Bilight® numerals), Khaki (Black ceramic); Super-LumiNova®
Strap: Rubber (black or khaki), Calfskin (brown or blue)
Price: From S$5,100
|Movement||Self-winding caliber A-500; 60 hours power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||42.5mm; titanium; water resistant to 30m|
|Dial||Salmon (6N gold plated) with gené or frosted area; Super-LumiNova filled Arabic numerals|
|Strap||Ballistic gray rubber; titanium folding clasp|