Photo Credit: Bell & Ross
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire
As a brand, Bell & Ross isn’t one you would necessarily relate to anything haute horlogerie. Typically producing solid, daily beaters, Bell & Ross have released their first timepiece encased in a solid Sapphire block. And damn does it look good. There are a fair few brands now experimenting with Sapphire as a viable casing material. Some manufacturers can pull it off, while other trials have been a bit of a hit-and-miss situation. And while I’m not the biggest advocate of square-shaped watches, the BR-X1 is an exception.
Lets start with the obvious: the aesthetics. The BR-X1 employs super-modern design cues that doesn’t sway too far from their ethos of masculine and brash-looking timepieces. The watch itself is quite large, but at 45mm it really is on the cusp of what I personally find it to be an appropriately sized watch. The skeletonized dial with its metal appliqué indices and Superluminova inserts looks quite beautiful and provides the watch with a dimension of accuracy and legibility. The crown is well and truly exposed, and I think that if Bell & Ross had employed crown guards it would have thrown off the flow of the piece entirely. The strap matches the watch’s feel perfectly. It’s made of translucent rubber with a metallic Kevlar weaving. High-tech, durable and functional.
As far as the movement is concerned, Bell & Ross opted to leave no stone unturned in the production of this exquisite piece. The manually wound BR-CAL.285 powers the beast and provides the BR-X1 with an impressive 4-days worth of power reserve when fully wound, which is indicated at 9 o’clock. The exposed flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock is well finished and has been executed quite remarkably, especially against the backdrop of the inverted dial. Beyond the stunning visuals that really any tourbillon provides, the BR-X1 utilises a mono-pusher controlled column wheel chronograph with a 30-minute timer at 11 o’clock and a 60-second timer at 1 o’clock. The finishing of the movement is undeniably beautiful. Every edge and angle has been tended to by a master watchmaker, and while a lot of other skeletonized watches falter against an astute eye, the BR-X1 uses its transparency to its advantage, providing its wearer with a seemingly bottomless pit of beauty and awe.
Bell & Ross have produced 5 pieces, each with a cost of approximately $495,000USD. Not the cheapest piece in production, nor the most accessible. But in terms of sheer craftsmanship and ingenuity, the BR-X1 shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you’re in the market for something a bit different. The limited run of the BR-X1 will more likely than not enable it to retain the majority of its value, but with respect to its super-niche case material, finding a buyer in the coming years to sell your pride and joy to may prove quite difficult. But that’s not why you’d buy this piece. You’d buy it to wear it, enjoy it, and hopefully one day pass it down to your children. A stunning example of just how much potential Bell & Ross have as a powerhouse.
Case: 45mm diameter
Case Material: Sapphire
Glass: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Crown: Mono-pusher crown
Caseback: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Power Reserve: 4 days
Strap: Translucent rubber with metallic Kevlar weaving
Buckle: Polished steel pin