In 2016, Bell & Ross launched the BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire, the brand’s first completely transparent watch caused quite a stir by combining prestigious watches complications – a flying tourbillon -, technical performance and its signature design codes. Last year, Bell & Ross’ design studio pushed the limits even further when it decided to develop an entirely skeletonized tourbillon.
A skeletonized version of this BR-X1 is being unveiled at Baselworld 2018, as part of a collection that underscores the bold creativity of Bell & Ross. Of the six new unique pieces created, three examples that marry transparency and color will be presented. Then by embracing sales innovation: two of the watches will be exclusively available online.
As iconic as difficult to work with, sapphire is the second hardest material on Earth after diamond, almost impossible to scratch. For watchmakers, creating a case from a block of sapphire is a true technical challenge. It requires long and complex machining, grinding and polishing processes and superior expertise. The 45 mm case of the BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire is made from five blocks of sapphire, which are carefully worked on before being assembled with the greatest precision.
Colors suspended invisibly
The three movements © Bell & Ross
With the BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire unique pieces, Bell & Ross has set itself a new challenge: to continue experimenting with extreme transparency while adding color. A number of monochrome Calibre BR-CAL.288 movements have been individually produced, intended for the most discerning collectors. A single color has been used for the main plate, bridges, dial, hands and tourbillon cage, thus creating a customized face for each unique piece.
The first of these three exclusive pieces is black – the signature color of the Bell & Ross style since its creation and a reference to aircraft instruments. It offers the purest of contrasts with the transparent sapphire case and the translucent bracelet. The rubies in the tourbillon cage are the only touch of extravagance in this landscape of sublime purity.
The second version offers an interpretation of the refinement and nobility of a precious metal. All the visible metal components of the movement are made from solid pink gold. Like a jewel enclosed in a glass case.
BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire © Bell & Ross
The third BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire honors the traditions of watchmaking with a movement inspired by the blued color of the hands on vintage timepieces. This deep blue, paired with the transparency of the case and bracelet, adds a modern dimension to the watch.
A pioneer in e-commerce and the digital world
For the first time, Bell & Ross offers modern collectors the opportunity of purchasing two unique Haute Horlogerie pieces online.The black version of the BBR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire will be available exclusively online from the Bell & Ross e-boutique. The blue version will be available from 21st March on MR PORTER, which has been a Bell & Ross partner for a year.
This online sales concept will be launched along with a unique experience and an exceptional service: all customers purchasing a watch will have the chance of visiting the Swiss manufacture where these two unique pieces were made, and meet the designers.
Along with the large sword hands, which can also be coated in black Super-LumiNova, the watch takes that exceptionally legible altimeter-like look the brand is known for… and leaves it markedly less legible. We talk a lot about legibility about here, but it looks like to dwell on it for a piece such as this would be missing the point. It’s what it is. For a much more “strategic” look, Bell & Ross carries a synthetic fabric strap, which seems to be fastened with a hook-and-loop material (i.e., Velcro), which we have seen from the brand before.I’ve ever been a fan of this Bell & Ross BR 03 series watches for quite some time. They have become archetypal for Bell & Ross, and as I mentioned, I’m happy that the newest is still experimenting with the scope. While this particular version would not be my first choice (I still love the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT) I feel the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Black Camo is going to probably be popular in certain circles, even though it may be more destined to see action in the club than to the battle. On day among Baselworld 2017, among the most fascinating brand new watches I noticed was the Bell & Ross BR X2 Micro-Rotor Automatic. Having a new circumstance, movement, and intriguing design, this circa $65,000 limited-edition watch is a lovely testament to why we enjoy wearing bold designs with conspicuous mechanical motions. Bell & Ross president Carlos Rosillo was wearing it in Baselworld’s Bell & Ross stand, enthusiastically showing it off – Mr. Rosillo gets more excited about his new goods than almost any new leader I understand.
This special initiative serves to strengthen Bell & Ross’ links to e-commerce and the digital world. One of the first watch brands to create a website, back in 1999, Bell & Ross once again led the way in 2008 by opening an online European boutique, followed by an American one the following year with 300 product references in its virtual catalogue.
Last year, the Bell & Ross website was completely redesigned to improve the ergonomics and user experience, enabling the brand’s devotees to directly share their photos using the UGC (User Generated Content) method. This new website fosters privileged and personalized relationships, and has a presence in more than twenty countries (Europe, USA, Australia, and now Asia).