ROLLING IN THE DEEP

On the sur­face, it may seem that Bell & Ross has just got into the dive watch cat­e­gory but a closer look re­veals that still wa­ters some­times run deep.

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Contents - TEXT DANIEL GOH

On the sur­face, it may seem that Bell & Ross has just got into the dive watch cat­e­gory but a closer look re­veals that still wa­ters some­times run deep.

As the say­ing goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the case of Bell & Ross, its de­ci­sion to broaden its hori­zon to en­com­pass more than just watches in­spired by the gauges in the cock­pit of air­crafts turned out to be a fan­tas­tic de­ci­sion. From the skies, the brand planted its feet firmly on the ground for in­spi­ra­tion and, more re­cently, took to the seas, of­fer­ing its first-ever square dive watch.

I have to re­in­force the point of first ‘square’ dive watch be­cause, as it turns out, Bell & Ross is no stranger when it comes to mak­ing dive watches. In fact, its very first dive watch pre­dates the square BR 01 case by around eight years. In or­der to fully drive home the fact that dive watches had long been well within Bell & Ross’ port­fo­lio, we were in­vited to Langkawi re­cently to wit­ness the launch of its lat­est BR03-92 Diver Blue and Bronze watches.

If, like me, you are rel­a­tively new to watches, it’s easy to pi­geon-hole Bell & Ross firmly in the cat­e­gory of square, avi­a­tion-in­spired watches; and this is be­cause, for the past 10 years or so, these watches were pretty much the best­sellers of the brand and will prob­a­bly re­main so for the fore­see­able fu­ture. How­ever, in 1997, Bell & Ross ac­tu­ally pro­duced its firstever dive watch – the Hy­dro­max.

Far from just be­ing just any old dive watch, this one ac­tu­ally broke a world record for wa­ter re­sis­tance, with the abil­ity to with­stand 1,110 bars of pres­sure. which trans­lates to a depth of 11,100m. More in­ter­est­ingly, it man­aged to do this by fill­ing the en­tire case with a patented trans­par­ent oil and even built in a patented case­back that could com­pen­sate for the ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion of this oil. An­other cool side ef­fect of oil fill­ing the case was, be­cause of the re­frac­tive in­dex of oil, the Hy­dro­max could be view­able from any an­gle un­der­wa­ter. Although a Hy­dro­max in good con­di­tion is prob­a­bly hard to come by these days, a good mod­ern il­lus­tra­tion of this unique re­frac­tion fea­ture can still be ex­pe­ri­enced through an in­de­pen­dent watch brand called Ressence.

Bell & Ross’ next dive watch was a lit­tle more mod­est, of­fer­ing a 300m wa­ter re­sis­tance and a chrono­graph func­tion. And, of course, it ticked all the boxes that en­abled it to be called a dive watch, namely, the uni­di­rec­tional bezel, a pro­tected crown and screw-down tap­pets and back. Where the Diver 300 Clas­sic was built to be more of a ca­sual watch, the next dive of­fer­ing, the BR02-92 Diver, brought the watch firmly back into the realms of pro­fes­sional use.

You can al­most start to see the evo­lu­tion of the watch into the square it­er­a­tion of to­day. The case of the BR02-92 was slightly an­gu­lar, while, on the ‘Pro Dial’, the indi­ca­tors were de­signed purely with leg­i­bil­ity in mind. And the wa­ter re­sis­tance? 1,000m.

BR03-92 DIVER BLUE Fast for­ward to 2018 and Bell & Ross has launched two new dive watches fit for the mod­ern era. I think we can all ap­pre­ci­ate the painstak­ing ef­fort that the brand has put into mak­ing a square case that is wa­ter re­sis­tance to 300m. For all its ef­forts, it gets to keep the iconic shape of a round dial within a square and gain new fans that have al­ready been won over by its avi­a­tion-in­spired watches. As with all the pre­vi­ous watches, this dive watch is also de­signed to be a util­i­tar­ian tool, of­fer­ing max­i­mum leg­i­bil­ity with in­dices coated in white Su­perLu­miNova and a yel­low hour hand. The rea­son for a yel­low hour hand is that, as the diver de­scends, colours start to fade and yel­low is one of the first to go; hence, at a cer­tain depth, the hour hand dis­ap­pears, draw­ing all the at­ten­tion to the minute hand.

BR03- 92 DIVER BRONZE The BR03-92 Diver Bronze is in­spired by the div­ing hel­mets used dur­ing the early days of un­der­wa­ter ex­plo­ration. The bronze case def­i­nitely gives the watch very warm and vin­tage look; and there is some­thing quite emo­tional about bronze as, over time, the watch will de­velop its own unique patina, al­most as if it is grow­ing with you. The BR03-92 Diver Bronze is a lim­ited edi­tion col­lec­tion of 999 pieces and will be paired with an aged leather and rub­ber strap op­tions.

01 Hy­dro­max.

02 Diver 300 Clas­sic.

BR 03-92 Diver Blue.

BR 03-92 Diver Bronze.

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