Experimenting and evolving – The New Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver White Bronze
In the watch world, heritage carries a lot of weight, as a brand you can have the best product with almost perfect specifications and a perfect look, but unfortunately if you don’t have the pedigree, well is an uphill battle from there. I have seen many brands which have all the above and still fall short. So, that brings us to the question on what is heritage? Is it how long the brand has been around? Perhaps is the know-how? or maybe a mix of both? Another angle are the materials, they not only give a new look to the watches but also add great technical specifications that mainstream brands cannot offer, the craft and experience acquired from working with ceramic, bronze or titanium is just as important. As you can see there are plenty variants to make a brand stand out, to be considere`d as the real thing, and this is what Bell and Ross have been working since 1992 until today, for this review we will be focusing more on the Diver side of Bell and Ross. We all know and love the look of the BR03 case, everything comes from the inspiration of instrument panels and the design really works for many professional environments.
This case has also evolved into a diver instrument with 300 meters of water resistance, an unidirectional diving bezel and technical rubber straps, a watch that is adapted to the times and dominating the wrists of Bell and Ross enthusiasts today. That case, that design was not always here, Bell and Ross started with a simpler approach but technically, very impressive. Let’s begin on what is the history of Bell and Ross and its conquest of the depths.
The beginnings: the Hydromax 11100m
We start with one of the most technical divers I’ve ever experienced, the Bell and Ross Hydromax 11100m. When you read the numbers next to the name you will think there is a typo, but in reality there isn’t, this watch can reach a staggering 11100m or 36,500 feet and can challenge all the knowledge that we currently have on the sea frontier. There are few watches that have reached this magical number or very close, but nothing that can be worn on regular basis, and you all know which cinematic reference I am talking about, even if is made of titanium. With a case 40mm and an ETA movement the watch is also slender, the short lug to lug also add to the comfort and it is highlighted by that integrated bracelet look.
What it is really impressive is what we fund under the hood, the Hydromax is a technical feast, a case filled with proprietary liquid called Hydroil protects the watch for pressures suffered at these types of depths, the watch also includes patented gaskets that expand and contract with the temperatures that the watch faces. After getting your head around the technology, you have an everyday black diver with a visibility that it is enviable for many brands, it is hard to make a watch this complicated but at the same time make it look so simple, I have been looking for one to add to my collection and hopefully a Bell and Ross enthusiast (which are the only owners of these watches) will be kind enough to sell it as they are no longer produced.
The next step: The BR03-92 Diver
You would think that after the important technological development from the Hydromax, Bell and Ross would benefit from the know how and keep building on top of this wonderful platform, but they went back to the drawing board and I am so glad they did, because the result was incredible, the first Diver with an BR03-92 case, a more approachable but still high spec companion that gives the wearer a presence unmatched by any other diver out there. The BR03-92 is what gave us that look that we all know and love today, a 42mm-by-42mm square steel case, 300 meters of water resistance and one of the best rubber straps I’ve experienced. This new look at that time was more than revolutionary, all the divers were complying with ISO certification and following divers that were made in the 60’s, so you can imagine in 2017, it was quite a stir.
The watch has aged very well, and it is still part of the core offering from the brand, the orange accents and the bright SuperLuminova really fits the tool vibe of the watch and it was just a matter of time that Bell and Ross started to experiment with other materials, and the BR03 -92 Diver Military was born, black ceramic case with a green khaki dial, technical, well made and simply stunning, the ceramic cases that Bell and Ross produce are comparable with watches that cost 4 times the price, the details and quality are just staggering.
Bronze is the way: The BR03- 92 Diver Bronze
Ceramic is one of the hardest materials to work with and those cases really look like nothing else, but I think Bell and Ross decided to take another challenge and give a bronze case to their divers. Maybe are those images that we have on our heads where bronze is always under the sea, they really stayed in our imagination, together of course early diving helmets made of brass, but whatever the real reason is, bronze dive watches feel at home. There are some real bold offerings from Bell and Ross in this department a blue, red, and green dial variants came to the line up and the red one captivated my imagination, it was as technical special and limited to 999 pieces, so they are all long gone, not to worry there is a new diver in town and it is the best one yet.
The New BR03-92 Diver Bronze White
They might say it is easy to do a dial change and create a watch but if you try to find a white diver with a bronze case you will know that is not easy, there are not many if any around. Bell and Ross didn’t just change the dial, they evolved the BR03-92 with small details that now really stand out, the hands and markers are rose gold which adding warm to the overall feeling of the watch, the case back is a masterpiece referencing to those old brass helmets, nostalgia at its best. Under the hood you can find the reliable and tested caliber BR-CAL.302 based on the Sellita SW300, well-regulated and inside a case which still retains those 300 meters of water resistance, the attention to detail that the watch receives is incredible, the crown is covered in rubber for better grip, the date is at 4:30 leaving all the markers perfect with symmetry, all the bolts that surround the case align perfectly keeping all those ticks that we watch nerd people have.
The BR03-92 has another trick of its sleeve, the thinness, you might think that the watch is big but because is very short and thin, fits my 6.25 inch perfectly. The watch is legible and with that beautiful grainy white dial, everything shines, the BR03-92 feels and looks luxurious, refined, and paired with that dark brown leather strap, everything feels right for a causal look with specs that can match any of the toughest tool watches currently offered.
I think Bell and Ross have reached the maturity of their offerings when it comes to their diving, or have they? Maybe there is an in-house movement planned or perhaps another piece with exotic materials like those sapphire cases or carbon ones, but I know that whatever comes our way, it will be well executed, this to me is the essence of heritage, we don’t know what Bell and Ross will come up next with, but because of the journey they had, I can see myself enjoying what the novelties. You cannot build this trust/feeling in a day, it takes time, and that is something that they truly have.
Case dimensions 42mm x 42mm Movement BR-CAL.302 based on the Sellita SW300
Case material Bronze Features Date, Minutes, Hours
Strap brown calfskin leather Water resistance 300 meters
More information at www.bellross.com
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