Cackling Cranium —
— Bell & Ross has been one of the watch brands at the forefront of the “skull dial” trend since its 2009 release of the BR 01 “Skull,” and its latest contribution to the niche but increasingly popular category: the new BR 01 Laughing Skull features an automaton skull dial and is powered by an all-new, proprietary Bell & Ross movement. The watch’s 46-mm square case is made of micro-blasted steel with surface areas enhanced with an engraved clous de Paris guilloché design. As with the four previous Skull models from Bell & Ross, the central dial features a sculpted photorealistic metal appliqué skull; however, this skull is not stationary behind the hour and minutes hands but it actually comes alive. In the great horological tradition of mechanical jaquemarts, the skull’s mandible moves up and down as the wearer winds the movement, giving the illusion that it is laughing.
The new BR Caliber 206, which Bell & Ross developed with the high-complication movement specialists at Concepto, is also notable in that it is actually skull shaped. In an extension of the skull-and-crossbones motif, the movement’s four bridges anchor the mainplate to the case and come together to form a single assembly that floats in the center of the watch, with the movement’s rear side visible through a clear caseback. The Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull is available in full steel, a limited edition of 500 pieces, for $9,900; steel with “light diamonds,” a limited edition of 99 pieces, for $18,000; and a “full diamonds” steel model, a limited edition of 99 pieces, for $30,000.