Introducing the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Patrouille de FranceBy Felix Scholz
Every Air Force has an elite group of pilots who elevate flying to an art form: precision and grace at speed and altitude. The UK has the Roulettes, the US has the Thunderbirds, and the French have the Patrouille de France. For 67 years, this squadron has exemplified the skills of the French Air and Space Force, and this year, Bell & Ross is along for the ride, equipping the squadron with the BR 03-94 Patrouille de France.
No surprise that Bell & Ross has opted for one of the classics for this first edition. The square instrument-style case is at the core of Bell & Ross’ identity, and while they have other offerings, for this edition, it’s absolutely the right play. And it looks great. The 42mm black ceramic case wears big, thanks to the square shape and the wide strap (black rubber and fabric are included), and the elapsed seconds bezel and tachymeter on the flange adds a nice layer of technical function without the design getting too overloaded.
And while it would have been easy for the brand to lean into the tactical design, the addition of the blue dial and red and white highlights (for that Tricolore vibe). Then there’s the Patrouille de France patch at six. A military logo on a dial is usually cool, but not all insignia are as attractive as this one. It shows the nine planets of the squadron — actually, it shows the older silhouette of the lovely old Fouga Magister, not the current Alpha plane — in their signature ‘Concorde’ formation, trailing French smoke against a gold roundel. Bell & Ross has always been a very graphic brand, and this watch epitomises this.
For me, this is Bell & Ross at its best — a well-executed partnership with a respected aviation group. Bonus points for the French tie-in.
Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.301. Automatic mechanical chronograph with 30-minute counter and central seconds. Date and small running seconds.
Case and dial: 42 mm, matt black ceramic. Bi-directional rotating black ceramic bezel with 60-second scale, water-resistant to 300m. Blue dial with Patrouille de France logo at six.
Strap: Black rubber and ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric with black PVD pin buckle.
Availability and Price: USD6,400; Limited edition of 500 pieces