Introducing Bell & Ross BR01 Cyber Skull SapphireBy Michael Weare
In 2009, Bell & Ross decided on a change of diet from the usual Aviation and Military themed watches for which it is rightly famous. In a cunning change of tone, they became one of the first brands to produce a skull watch. Using the popular squared shape of the BR-01, it became an instant success. Since then, the BR-01 Skull family has grown to include ten members each of which are greatly sought after by collectors.
2020 was the year of the Cyber Skull, another resounding success. For 2021 the limited edition Cyber Skull Sapphire for Only Watch adorned the case with sapphire crystal. The orange-colored skull framed within the sapphire crystal inspired a bidding frenzy and was sold at the Only Watch charity auction at a price of 220,000 euros, twice its original asking price.
How do you follow that? With the even purer 45mmm Cyber Skull Sapphire being made available for general, albeit strictly limited sale of just 10 pieces. It’s icy cool where the Only Watch was fiery orange.
The ethereal cyber skull, which appears to float in sapphire crystal, is itself created in colorless sapphire crystal. For the transparent case design, Bell & Ross gives a nod to their aviation expertise by shaping the case like that of the fuselage of an American F117 stealth bomber. Other moods contained within this new Skull piece are Japanese origami and the avant-garde world of the digital arts.
Shaping the solid block of scratch-proof hardened glass into a precisely hewn frame is extremely difficult, one small mistake and it’s start again time.
Turn the watch over and behind the cyber skull for all to see is the intricate skull shaped movement. The watch runs on a manual wind BR-CAL.209 automaton movement with a 48-hour power reserve. Functions include just hours and minutes but the automaton movement makes the jaw move as if laughing when winding the spring. Specifically developed for the watch, this clever skeleton calibre is almost invisible. The spring balance placed at “twelve o’clock” symbolises the brain in this skull, you can literally see the cogs working.
To complete the sleek look of transparency, the integrated strap is made of translucent rubber.
Whether or not Bell & Ross intended to create a collector’s piece with the Skull series, they have certainly got one. The skull concept is close to the heart of fly boys, and many would see this as a fun extension of Bell & Ross’ military and aviation themed watches. The automaton dial with the laughing skull merely adds to the enjoyment. With only ten pieces on offer you’ll need to have the clout of a Keith Richards in order to get one to go with your skull ring.
Movement: BR-CAL.209 automaton movement, 48hrs power reserve
Functions: Hours, Minutes
Dial: 45mm Crystal sapphire, Skeletonized faceted sapphire
Strap: Translucent rubber
Price: USD 117,000
Availability: Limited edition of 10 Pieces