Fifties’ hot-rod­ders and their war sur­plus rac­ers in­spire Bell & Ross’ lat­est watches

Esquire (UK) - - Style -

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.

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