Bell & Ross history and heritage
It's a name that sounds English, but it is actually derived from the brand's two co-founders, designer Bruno Belamich and businessman Carlos A. Rosillo, both born in France. Bruno Belamich had always been passionate about watches and his dissertation entitled "The launch of a watchmaking brand specializing in the production of functional watches for professional use" foretold the birth of the Bell & Ross brand.
The company has its roots in the duo's hometown of Paris. At first, its timepieces were produced by the German company Sinn (where Bruno Belamich had worked), but Bell & Ross opened its own production facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in 2002.
From the outset Bell & Ross watches have been built to satisfy the call for functional timepieces for military and aviation use. Among the great variety of pilots' watches available on the market, Bell & Ross watches stand out because they look as if they have been removed straight from the cockpit to place on the wrist. Like all good aviation watches, their dial is highly legible (one of the company's four key design principles, along with functionality, reliability and precision). The respect of these core values has also made Bell & Ross timepieces the watch of choice for the men in many professional outfits whose activities call for reliability and absolute precision in a watch, such as fighter pilots, aviation companies, bomb disposal experts, armed forces and the coast guard. The BR 03-92 Commando is the perfect generic tribute to these professions and has a polished case in black ceramic.
Aviation and vintage - two pillars of the watch collection
The company's watch collection is separated into two very distinct pillars. On the one hand there are the vintage watches, on the other the instruments. The Bell & Ross Vintage collection comes in a traditional round case, exclusively in stainless steel, and offers traditional automatic three-hand and automatic chronograph models. They offer a classic look that encapsulates the heritage of the military watch, from pocket watches to trench watches and the modern chronograph.
The Bell & Ross Aviation watches, on the other hand, primarily use a black square case (black PVD treated steel, or even carbon fibre, is also used) in keeping with the collection's source of inspiration - cockpit instruments - which need to be black so that they do not reflect any sunlight that could distract the pilot or make the instruments unreadable. The aesthetics of such cockpit instruments are seen in the dial of these watches, which can be paired with a rubber or leather strap to change the theme of the watch from sport to vintage at a stroke. Models such as the BR-126 sport heritage combine the best of both worlds. The brand even offers the BR 01 Gold Ingot model made entirely from rose gold: case, dial and hands.
Precision from Switzerland meets design from France
Inside every Bell & Ross watch is a reliable Swiss Made mechanical movement, more often than not automatic, which is built to withstand the rigours of professional life on land, in the sky or even at sea. In the brand's more innovative experimental watches one can also find high-end movements such as the tourbillon in the BR-X1 Tourbillon. The brand has also conquered the deep with its Hydromax 11,100m world record diver's watch, reaffirming its credentials for extreme and sport use.
Because of their history and their professional applications, Bell & Ross is above all a brand for men, although the company also offers diamond-set versions of its square case model in the form of the BR-S. The brand also uses high-tech materials such as ceramic and the occasional touch of gold for some added value over its base models in steel, as well as special watches produced in a limited edition to commemorate anniversaries of its many professional associations. More often than not, the dial is a black colour (paired with a matching strap in black leather or black rubber) that evokes the link with aviation instrumentation, though other more adventurous colours are also available.
The majority of Bell & Ross men's watches are available for purchase direct from the company's own website with a modest supplement to the price required for shipping. Thanks to the use of stainless steel for the majority of cases, the brand’s watches are attractively priced in the automatic sport watch category.