MARKS THE SPOT
In Paris last October, Bell & Ross unveiled the first watch of a brand new collection, the BR-X1 Skeleton Chronograph, built for pilots of fifth-generation military aircraft.
With aviation celebrating its centenary this year, its history dotted by milestones including the breaking of the sound barrier and the era of hypersonic flights, Bell & Ross decided to launch the BR-X1 Skeleton Chronograph, the very first watch of a new high-tech, sophisticated and highend collection inspired by the excellence of the aeronautical industry and its new technologies. Revolutionary in design, the sporty, ultra-masculine and robust chronograph with sophisticated haute horlogerie finishes is an extreme version of the brand’s iconic BR 01 instrument watch, inspired by aircraft instrument panels. As Bell & Ross has always been passionate about military history and in particular that of aviation, and with 2014 marking the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, it released a timepiece this year honouring French aviation hero, Captain Georges Guynemer. The BR-X1 hypersonic chronograph hurtles into the hypersonic field via its radically-technical nature.
Carlos Rosillo, CEO and co-founder of Bell & Ross, says, “The BR 01 is from the dashboard to the wrist and we kept this idea, but we wanted to project into the future, the future of technology as when you look at the development of airplanes, such as the F-35, which is highly sophisticated. We wanted to develop the ultimate utility watch, the ultimate evolution of a watch with a high-tech and sophisticated conception and movement, which allows us to have resistance, lightness, ergonomics and functionality. When you look at sophisticated airplanes and you see the future of aviation today, you understand that the technologies have changed. The shapes are much more complicated, but what if you transfer that to watches? Instead of having something basic and simple, we made it like a fifth-generation airplane – the future of aviation in the military field.”
Since Bell & Ross ’ launch in 1992, its goal has always been to create timepieces suitable for professional use. They adhere to strict military specifications where function creates form, winning it the confidence of many highly-demanding experts confronted by extreme situations – the French Air Force, RAID French police intervention unit, French Civil Security mine disposal experts, naval aviation forces, parachutists from the US Airborne section and deep-sea divers – and opening the brand up to a much wider audience of enthusiasts and collectors. Bell & Ross draws inspiration from World Wars I and II, as the military watch was born during the First World War. With a functional and utilitarian vocation, its timepieces propose an instantly-recognisable style (designs firmly rooted in the military watch tradition with dual, complementary affinities for the retro and contemporary) matched with four essential principles: readability, precision, reliability and functionality.
Rosillo describes Bell & Ross’ association with military history: “The military field has developed high technology for a very long time: the Internet is civil today but, originally, it was a military language, and most civil airplanes come from military ones. We share their values of excellence and performance. We have been inspired by military watches: keep in mind that the first wristwatch was due to the military world and aviation when WWI pilots asked watchmakers to go from the pocket to the wrist. This is what we achieved with the WWI watch, then what we achieved also is going from the cockpit to the civilian wrist.
“The military inspiration is strong and we have been working for military teams, but our main business are watches for civilian use, like Dassault or other airplane companies that buy their knowl---