Founded in 1992 Swiss brand Bell & Ross have been releasing watches based directly on aviation instruments since 2010 and at Baselworld they released another set of three watches inspired by aircraft instruments. This time the designs of the watches are based on instruments used for flying and navigation. These watches are a part of B&R’s “flight instrument” collection along with last years Horizon, Altimeter and Turn Coordinator watches.
The Bell & Ross BR 01-92 Heading Indicator
The BR 01-92 Heading Indicator is based on a piece of aircraft equipment called the gyrocompass which is also sometimes known as a “Heading Indicator”, this is used to display the aircraft`s course in both autopilot and manual modes. The dial has been constructed from three concentric discs using a similar concept to B&R’s Compass and Radar watches, the discs have been graduated for hours and minutes.
On the outer disc is a yellow pointer which is used to indicate the hours while the middle disc is used to indicate the minutes. Featuring a yellow hand the disc at the center indicates the seconds. Also on the outer disc just the same as the gyrocompass there are indications of W,E, and S (for West, East and South) the N(for North) have been placed next to the yellow triangle used to indicate the hours. A yellow outline of a plane – also just as seen on a real gyrocompass- is engraved underneath the crystal as well as yellow hour markers.
Since each disk weighs 30 times more than a watch hand, they needed to be extra-light in order to reduce neither the power reserve nor the accuracy of the watch, while still needing to be strong enough to avoid deformation and friction. The watch posed a technical challenge since each disc is about 30 times heavier than a watch hand. So the discs needed to be both extra light so as to not compromise accuracy or use too much power as well being rigid enough to prevent deformation. Bell & Ross’s designers achieved this by developing special new materials and techniques, furthermore as the discs rotate an adjustment at the level of microns takes place in order to ensure the discs remain parallel.
The Bell & Ross BR 01-92 Airspeed
This model takes its design cues from the anemometer, a device used to measure an aircrafts speed. The BR 01-92 Airspeed presents a fairly traditional looking aviation styled dial that has borrowed graphical elements from the anemometer making it more colourful and unconventional. The hour, minute and second graduations are separated reflecting the same layout as the device it’s based on, this places emphasis on the minutes with the hours indicated at the centre.
Green, white and yellow are the colours used in an anemometer to indicate levels of criticality and on the watch are used to separate quarter hour zones on the outer ring. A white photoluminescent coating has been used for the hands and indices.
The Bell & Ross BR 01-97 Climb
The design of the BR 01-97 Climb echoes the instrument called the variometer or vertical speed indicator which is used to determine whether a plane is level, descending or ascending by checking the atmospheric pressure. It mimicks the design of the original instrument by replacing the indication of vertical speed with a power reserve indicator which is shown in yellow and matches the typeface of the original instrument. A small aperture at the 3 o’clock position is used to show the date.
The hour hand has been darkened on the BR 01-97 Climb in order to match the design of the variometer which uses only a single white hand. To enhance legibility the hands and hour makers have a white photo luminescent coating which contrasts well with the black dial.
All three Aviation models feature 46 mm in diameter cases in a black carbon PVD finish intended to mirror the look of cockpit instruments, they come with screw down crowns and are water resistant to 100m and come on straps made of rubber and heavy-duty synthetic fabric.
An ETA 2897 automatic movement powers the BR 01-92 Heading Indicator and BR 01-92 Airspeed models, while an ETA 2897 is used in the BR 01-97 Climb with its power-reserve and date functions.
All models are limited editions of 999 pieces with the first 99 being presented in a collector’s box that emulates an aircraft control panel.