Watch manufacture Bell & Ross was established in 1992 and has developed an excellent reputation for creating authentic and beautifully detailed pilot’s watches. The company is headed by French/Swiss watch designer Bruno Belamich and entrepreneur Carlos Rosillo.
The BR 01 series, of which the Bell & Ross BR 01 Tourbillon is one of the high end watches, was created not just by imaginative watchmakers but also by aircraft control specialists and other experts from similarly dangerous occupations, with the aim of creating timepieces with traditional Swiss watchmaking principles coupled with performance levels that would satisfy the needs of pilots and other professionals facing extreme situations. Today, Bell & Ross – particularly with their BR 01 series, is considered a top tool watch brand for pilots, divers and other highly trained professionals.
In the arena of professional watches, Bell & Ross have developed three highly developed watches which would be worthy of any professional tackling any task. These timepieces have become benchmarks both for their mechanical sophistication and for the technical challenges they represent. Of these one is the Hydromax 11 100M and the other is the Vintage 123 Sauvante.
At the head of this redoubtable series, Bell & Ross introduced the 46mm BR01 Tourbillon, a watch not just with a tourbillon, but with three other complications. These include what they refer to as a Trust Index, which shows when the watch is displaying the time at its peak accuracy, the Regulator which separates the hour and minute hands favouring the latter, and the power reserve indicator which of course displays the amount of power available throughout its generous 5 day energy reserve.
The choice of a carbon fibre mechanism and titanium case give the watch its excellent strength as well as lightness. The DLC covering also helps to make the watch virtually unscratchable its surface has a hardness of 4000 Vickers, (that’s Vickers the standard hardness test as developed in 1921 by Robert Smith and George Sandland while working at Vickers, and should not be misinterpreted as 4000 vicars!)
The tourbillon carriage at 6 o’clock even includes the ampersand for Bell & Ross. This quality watch is designed to be as equally at home in the air, on land or sea, with a water resistance of 100 metres. In fact every watch in the BR range is designed to exceed in four essential criteria, readability, performance, precision and water resistance.
Bell & Ross watches have all the bells and whistles, but what sets them apart from other so called professional tool watches is that Bell & Ross has managed to bring a huge amount of style and charisma to everything it designs.
Many professional tool watches have that rather heavy handed and serious look about them, no doubt they are utterly precise and reliable, but not always joy to behold. Bell & Ross watches, whether it’s the superbly collectable WWI collection, the authentically recreated PW1 pocket watches or the BR01 series, has imagination and design flair through and through. Indeed another version of the BR Tourbillon, known as the BR01 Tourbillon Airborne, depicts military symbolism in the form of a skull and cross bones just to add an extra macho flavour to the watch.
Meanwhile the brand continues to explore several iconic fighter aircraft and creates watches that give the essence and aura of the cockpit with all its symbols and dials. The BR01 Heading Indicator, Air Speed and Climb are a fly boy’s dreams come true. They are quite unlike any other pilot’s watches, and for that reason it is hardly surprising that there are any number of pilots and wannabe pilot geeks who are gaga and open mouthed for this unusual watch manufacture and its releases. And make no mistake, this watch induced gasps from watch lovers when it was introduced at Baselworld 2007.
List price for the Bell & Ross BR 01 Tourbillon is $140,000 but getting hold of one will be the trick, there were only 60 made.
Bell & Ross BR 01 Tourbillon – Technical Specifications
- Manual winding movement with tourbillon,
- Carbon fiber mainplates and bridges,
- Tourbillon carriage with black gold finish.
- Regulator: small hour counter at midday and large minute counter in the middle of the dial,
- Five-day power reserve indicator (at 9 o’clock),
- Optimum accuracy indicator (or Trust Index at 3 o’clock).
- XL 46mm diameter.
- Black titanium DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) finish,
- virtually unscratchable (hardness 4,000 Vickers).
- The upper plate with angle ribs and the side openings lighten the case whilst increasing its resistance.
- All openings are decorated with a carbon fiber insert.
- Anti-reflective sapphire.
- Screw-on crown with black titanium DLC and rubber finish.
- Black carbon fibre,
- Numerals, index and hands covered in a photo-luminescent coating.
Glass: Anti-reflective sapphire.
Straps: Black alligator and rubber.
Buckle: Pin buckle. Black titanium DLC finish.
More resources about the Bell & Ross BR 01 Tourbillon available on the Official Bell & Ross Website.