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Bell & Ross - The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

Bell & Ross The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

Some people love Bell & Ross, and others are not keen on all those squares and circles. The BR-05 will help them to meet in the middle!

We caught some rumours about it at Baselworld. No photos, no text, just a prototype that was not to be released to the public under any circumstances. Today, 6 September, it’s out. Bell & Ross has unveiled its latest creation, the BR-05. 

It’s not about the movement, the complication or the collection. The BR-05 is all about the case. And what a case! While up to now the brand has embraced the “round or square” dichotomy, the BR-05 falls somewhere between the two. It’s the missing link between the two designs we’ve seen up to now. 

The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

BR-05 Bell & Ross

A popular exercise

The “circle in a square” idea is not a new one. There have been many different approaches. There’s the Nautilus, the Klepcys by Cyrus and Vacheron Constantin’s Harmony, but in all these cases the square is not quite a square. In fact it’s more like a cushion. It’s a suggestion of a square, a soft approximation that shies away from too harsh a contrast with the gentle lines of the circle.

Another alternative that’s also been around for a while is the broken circle. We’re thinking of the Royal Oak, Corum’s Admiral, the Laureato by Girard-Perregaux and the FB-1 by Ferdinand Berthoud, not forgetting the many Hublots, which go for a variety of polygonal shapes, some more successful than others, framing a round dial. 

The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

BR-05 © Bell & Ross

No compromise 

Bell & Ross hasn’t followed either of these paths. As is its wont, the corners are sharp, the angles are keen and the design is powerful. “It took us two years to arrive at this final design. The principle of the circle in the square was a given, but we did a lot of work on the dial area, the size of the case and the bracelet and strap,” explains Bruno Belamich, creative director of Bell & Ross.

The DNA of the BR-05 is handed down from the BR-03, the watch on which the brand built its reputation. It features the same tight square, only here its corners have been rounded off. Perhaps this newborn’s other parent is the Vintage collection, with its softer, more accessible design. The BR-05 is the product of both and yet it’s uniquely itself. Its proportions are balanced and confident. “Our square case is closely identified with the brand, but it’s not universal. Our round case is too, but it’s not differentiating in itself. The BR-05 is intended to be a distinctive variation of both,” Bruno Belamich continues.

The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

BR-05 © Bell & Ross

Integral bracelet: an unsurprising but natural development
The construction work is not limited to the case. It also extends to the bracelet. Bell & Ross have opted to make it integral. The first link is actually part of the case. This is by no means a revolutionary option, given that its most well-known incarnation is in the Royal Oak, and there are many more examples. The same goes for the alternating polished and brushed surfaces of the bracelet, a feature it shares with timepieces by Rolex, Omega, Girard-Perregaux, Longines, Baume & Mercier, etc. It offers the kind of superior finish that appeals to collectors. “We paid particular attention to the bracelet,” explains Bruno Belamich. “To give it a gentle, perfect drape, there are four different sizes of links, all set at a precise angle. The folding buckle is rounded, to hug the wrist. We also offer it with a rubber strap. It has a modern, sophisticated clasp that is perfect for the BR-05.”

The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

BR-05 © Bell & Ross

A big family
Bell & Ross has come to market with a complete family. Steel dominates, with three models featuring a black, blue or light grey dial. There is also a rose gold version, also with a black dial. Finally, two rubber straps (black or blue) are also available, with the familiar folding buckle. The set is completed with a BR-05 Skeleton, in a limited edition of 500. This skeletonised model is the only three-hander – the others all have three hands plus a date. The watches begin at EUR 3,990 on a rubber strap. It’s a very competitive price point, although the steel bracelet option is likely to be more popular (EUR 4,500). 

The new BR-05: Bell & Ross’s third way

BR-05 © Bell & Ross

For whom? 

It’s hard to work out the target audience of the new BR-05. “The 40 mm format is a perfect consensus for many cultures, as well as being unisex,” notes Bruno Belamich. This is unquestionably an original creation, but it doesn’t have the marketing advantages of the BR-01 or BR-03 (with their aviation associations) or the BR-V (V for Vintage), which can immediately attach themselves to a story already fleshed out by the brand’s marketing department. 

The BR-05 is a different story – a story that is yet to be told. The watch leads with its design, and it’s up to each wearer to write their own chapter. It’s an admirable exercise, but a risky one. Today, watch marketing is so powerful that end clients are used to buying a complete package: the watch, its history (real or fictional), its most prestigious ambassador, its achievements, its historic back story, etc. The BR-05 doesn’t have any of that – yet. Nevertheless, the feedback we heard in March (Baselworld) and September (official launch) was all very positive. It remains to be seen whether the design is powerful enough to make it a commercial success. 

The brand

For Bell & Ross, each detail has a specific meaning and function: functionality is key, and minimalism – dispensing with superfluous ornamental details in favour of essential aspects – is vital.

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