Div­ing With An Edge

This divers’ watch from Bell & Ross of­fers an ex­cit­ing new adap­ta­tion of the brand’s dis­tinc­tive square case. Best of all, de­spite its shape, the BR 03-92 Diver stays wa­ter­tight to 300 me­ters.

WatchTime - - Test - — by Alexan­der Krupp —

— “A divers’ watch with cor­ners? at’s ab­surd.” is com­ment, or a sim­i­lar one, might be heard from techies who know that it’s much harder to make a square watch case wa­ter­tight than a round one. But Bell & Ross has suc­ceeded in con­struct­ing the brand’s char­ac­ter­is­tic qua­dratic case in such a way that it can pass pres­sure tests up to 30 bar (300 me­ters) – plus an­other 25 per­cent for safety’s sake. e tech­nique in­volves a screw-down crown, an ex­tra-thick (2.85-mm) sap­phire crys­tal, and four mas­sive screws join­ing the up­per part of the case to the mid­dle piece and the 2.8-mm-thick steel back. e re­sult is a ter­rific-look­ing watch with a round, black ro­tat­able bezel atop a square stain­less-steel case.

Divers can also look for­ward to the har­mo­nious styling of the dis­plays on the BR 03-92 Diver, our test watch. All im­por­tant in­di­ca­tors light up strongly in the dark: from the zero point on the bezel, through the ap­plied in­dexes, to the im­por­tant min­utes hand and, of course, the sec­onds hand that shows that the watch is still run­ning. Only the orange hour hand re­mains dark so it doesn’t dis­tract a diver from see­ing es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion.

e hands and in­dexes are very well crafted and con­tribute to the over­all high-qual­ity im­pres­sion made by this watch. Ditto for the sta­ble mul­ti­fac­eted case, ex­cept for two small de­tails that rein in a diver’s en­thu­si­asm: the bezel’s cal­i­bra­tions are made of alu­minum rather than scratchre­sis­tant ce­ramic, and the ro­tat­able ring it­self is dif­fi­cult to turn, even if its user isn’t wear­ing div­ing gloves.

But th­ese draw­backs are out­weighed by the ex­tra-wide rub­ber strap, which has com­plex styling and ends in a large, in­tri­cately shaped pin buckle. A thick bar and sturdy Allen screws af­fix the strap to the case, so los­ing this watch would be very un­likely, even if it hap­pens to snag on coral or on div­ing equip­ment.

In­ci­den­tally, the rub­ber strap is suit­able only for dives in rel­a­tively warm wa­ter. For im­mer­sions in colder div­ing ar­eas, where the watch would be worn over a neo­prene suit or even over gloves, the diver would want to use the tex­tile strap with Vel­cro fas­tener, which is de­liv­ered with the watch.

Bell & Ross has placed greater pri­or­ity on the watch’s ex­te­rior com­po­nents than on the move­ment, which is hid­den

be­hind a mas­sive steel case­back. e time­piece en­cases large-se­ries ETA Cal­iber 2892 in the “Elaboré” ver­sion, which is the sim­plest of its three qual­ity lev­els. “Sim­plest” in this con­text means that the bal­ance is made of gold-plated nickel in­stead of Glucy­dur and is finely ad­justed by ETA in four, rather than five, po­si­tions. Fur­ther­more, Bell & Ross uses only a few un­ob­tru­sive pol­ished pat­terns and an en­grav­ing of the brand’s logo on the ro­tor as em­bel­lish­ments.

This cal­iber in its sim­plest qual­ity level is quite com­monly found in high-qual­ity watches and would not be viewed as a short­com­ing – were it not for the poor rate re­sults achieved by our test watch. The loss av­er­aged 17.5 sec­onds per day, which means that its time­keep­ing would lag by a full minute af­ter four days have passed. That’s not ac­cept­able per­for­mance, even for a me­chan­i­cal watch, where a lack of pre­ci­sion is eas­ier to par­don than in an elec­tronic time­piece. Our wear­ing test, which lasted

sev­eral weeks, con­firmed the re­sults of the elec­tronic mea­sure­ment: here the loss ranged from 14 to 20 sec­onds per day.

Some con­so­la­tion can be taken from the fact that the val­ues mea­sured in the in­di­vid­ual po­si­tions are “only” 10 sec­onds apart, which means an ex­pe­ri­enced watch­maker would be able to bring this watch’s rate up to an ac­cept­able level with a few deft ad­just­ments. But the buyer would have to sur­ren­der the watch into the ex­pert’s cus­tody, which is a sit­u­a­tion many pur­chasers pre­fer to avoid.

e ap­peal to Bell & Ross is to reg­u­late the watch with the same per­fec­tion it used in the other as­pects of its qual­ity con­trol. Our test model passed the qual­ity-as­sur­ance tests with fly­ing col­ors. e wearer of the BR 03-92 Diver can en­joy this watch above and be­low the wa­ter’s sur­face – be­cause the cor­ners and edges are only in the watch’s de­sign, not in the crafts­man­ship. —

The watch is worn on a rub­ber strap for or­di­nary daily use; a tex­tile strap with a Vel­cro fas­tener may be used when the watch ac­com­pa­nies a diver.

Four strong screws con­nect the back to the mid­dle and up­per parts of the case. A sim­ply dec­o­rated ETA Cal­iber 2892 ticks in­side.

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