Bell & Ross, purveyors of aviation-themed, instrument-styled watches, have recently announced the addition of two limited edition models to one of their core collections. The new Bell & Ross BR03-92 Horoblack three hand automatic and the BR03-94 Horolum chronograph are bead-blasted, subdued takes on the BR03 square-cased standard and feature sandwich dials intended for maximum legibility.
Starting with the BR03-92 Horoblack, Bell & Ross have elected to stick with their standard 42mm BR03, stainless steel, rounded square case, this time with a micro-blasted effect to limit reflections and create a utilitarian look. The Horoblack’s new dial construction features a two layer sandwich design with a base layer of seldom seen black Super-LumiNova overlaid with a stainless steel dial with cutouts for the indices. Micro-blasted to match the case, the Horoblack dial and case work together to create a minimal tool watch look which should also enable easy reading of the time. Other than color treatment and material choice, the dial, hands, case, sapphire crystal, and straps on the BR03-92 Horoblack are more or less the same as core BR03 models.
Keeping time for the three hand BR03-92 Horoblack is the BR-CAL.302 automatic mechanical movement, a 25 jewel, Swiss made caliber with a 38 hour power reserve, which is based on the Sellita SW300-1. Shared with some of the “higher end” BR03 models – such as the BR03-92 Diver – the BR-CAL.302 is a solid, dependable choice for a watch like the Horoblack given the price point – even if some collectors will wish for something a little more horologically high brow.
A very good sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating can occasionally appear to even “sharpen” the dial components, to my eyes. The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver includes a 2.85mm-thick horizontal crystal with fantastic AR coating offering a clear view of the dial that is intended to be legible to start with. The applied hour markers, sloped chapter ring, and date window at 4:30 with a black date wheel to match the dial color all help lend a sense of interest and depth that I always appreciate.Clearly, I’m bullish on the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver. It was one of the funnest recent watches I’ve had the opportunity to wear for an extended time period, and I can not actually say I could discover any actual complaints relating to it. There are a couple of things that I can think of, however, that Bell & Ross can do to further sweeten the deal. First, ceramic bezel inserts are more scratch-resistant, and are becoming practically standard nowadays, which makes aluminum inserts begin to feel less premium. Second, it is likely to have 300m water resistance on a watch using a screen caseback, and that would increase the value, interest, and user experience for the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver. The solid caseback, though, is probably also valuable for protecting the motion from magnetic fields. Last, including something in the motion department, like COSC certificate, for instance, would further kick up it a notch. All of these items would probably also be grounds to increase the price, of course.The Swiss automatic movement inside is the perfectly suitable, reliable, and common Sellita SW300-1 (“BR-CAL.302”). Power reserve of 42 hours, working at 4Hz… you understand the specs. The screw-down crown has been coated with rubber and easy to grip with a strong and smooth-as-butter winding feel. I like the rubber on the crown, but I wonder how rubber elements like this on watches can hold up with time. The strap can be rubber, is comfortable and soft, and includes a suitably giant steel buckle.
Built with a similar concept is the BR03-94 Horolum chronograph, a subdued take on the standard BR03-94 Chronograph. Different from the core model on the Horolum is the micro-blasted 42mm case and micro-blasted stainless steel sandwich dial construction, this time with a base plate of C3 Super-LumiNova, and a grey-green calfskin strap to accompany the BR standard synthetic, which is also included. A Calibre BR-CAL.301 automatic allows for tracking of time and date as well as a 30-minute chronograph function and is based on the 37 jewel ETA 2894-2. Like the BR03-92 Horoblack, the BR03-94 Horolum is essentially identical in design to its more pedestrian sibling other than the blasted case and sandwich dial design. Owing to the helping of C3 Super-LumiNova on the Horolum’s sandwich dial, nighttime reading should be excellent.
Limited editions like the BR03-92 Horoblack and BR03-94 Horolum are in keeping with B&R’s custom of creating limited models based on their central collection of instrument-style watches. While the new models are more like color updates than real “new” watches, the utilitarian style and matte effect will no doubt appeal to the tool watch crowd in the market for a new square time teller. The BR03-92 Horoblack will be available for $3,400 and the BR03-94 Horolum will retail for $5,800. bellross.com