When one is faced with updating a contemporary classic it can be daunting. Car tuners face this problem with aplomb all the time. Just think of how AMG reimagines any number of Mercedes models, or how Pur Sang tackles Bugatti models. There’s usually competing narratives to follow, yet also deviate from ever so slightly to make a compelling product. The vision has to feel both new and yet familiar, basically, or the finished car will be a disaster.
Watchmakers have their own way to address new-but-old-but-not-really builds. Arguably, the recent trends that have seen watch brands revive and update classic models prove the success of their methods beyond all doubt. Now, when it comes to Bell & Ross, the expectations of new designs definitely get dialled up all the way to 11. This is why we’re certain the BR05 will be a divisive watch. We have already heard that the most cogent of watch specialists and collectors are split in their reactions. We would argue that this already bodes well for the all new BR05.
Ok, so we can’t put this off any longer. To address this head-on, the watch certainly looks to have been inspired by the classic designs of the inimitable Gerald Genta. To be honest, we see all manner of Genta watches reflected and refracted in this latest chapter of the square watch with a round face story. According to Bruno Belamich, Bell & Ross’ co-founder and creative director, the idea was partly to translate the codes of the 1970s. One of the definitive watch designers of that decade was Genta so his influence is entirely appropriate.
Breaking into first person here, I must report that my embarrassingly fragile wrist was not entirely dominated by the 40mm watch head. The example we shot was in steel but the material has no bearing on how well the watch wears. For the record, Bell & Ross is making the watch available in steel and gold, with bracelet and rubber strap options, plus a variety of dial colours, including a very fetching shade of blue. The excellent fit of the BR05 can be attributed to the subtle curves inherent in the design. The bracelet is integrated seamlessly, as promised in the press materials. If you are like me then you’ll need the maximum number of links removed, and the tapered shape of the bracelet did give me pause. However, I believe that the right number of links can be removed to make the watch perfectly wearable for smaller wrists, without compromising the aesthetics.
The special details to note here are the alternating brushed and polished links, which I can also report did not snag the hairs on my wrist. That’s no mean feat I assure you. This alternating finishing arrangement is yet another throwback to design elements first introduced in watchmaking back in the 1970s. It is also reflected on the case proper, where the satin-finished parts are completely flat, and the polished bits are the bevelled angles.
Also very impressive is Bell & Ross’ decision to equip the watch with a brand new automatic calibre, the BR CAL.321. There is another version of this new watch with a skeletonised movement. In that piece, the calibre is BR CAL.322, which is simply the skeletonised version of the standard BR CAL.321.
MOVEMENT Automatic BR CAL.321; XX-hour power reserve
CASE 40mm in steel and gold; water-resistant to 100m
STRAP Matching bracelet or rubber
PRICE From $6,500