Fifties’ hot-rodders and their war surplus racers inspire Bell & Ross’ latest watches
Back in the early Fifties, grease monkeys gathered on the salt flats of Utah to race their home-built hot rods. Many drove unique “belly tank” racers; aerodynamic horizontal droplets of metal with protruding wheels.
Only a few years beforehand, these tanks had been mounted beneath US Air Force fighter planes’ bellies (or wings). When WWII ended, the surplus military kit was sold off and canny mechanics bought the tanks. By the mid-Fifties, the annual Speed Week run on the Bonneville salt flats was jammed with bellytanker racing cars, and the design has endured, as Bell & Ross’ new capsule collection attests.
The two new Bellytanker watches — each limited to 500 pieces — are joyfully simple, and thanks to the pale copper colour of the dial and art-deco indices, evocative of the watches worn by those maniacal petrolheads. Bell & Ross has also designed a concept belly tank racer of its own to match the watches.