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Few watches are as immediately recognisable as the iconic square Bell & Ross models. Designed for professionals who demand optimal reliability, Bell & Ross watches meet four basics principles : legibility, functionality, precision and reliability. Thus, every detail has its purpose, its function. This technical precision is expressed through pure lines and timeless elegance. Time+Tide is proud to be the Australian home of Bell & Ross online.

HANDS-ON: Is the Bell & Ross BR 126 Aeronavale the best (and boldest) Vintage model yet?

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Bell & Ross has never been afraid of colour. And their bold, highly graphical square instrument watches are a natural canvas for creative experimentation. The brand’s more traditional round watches are a little bit of a different story – inherently more conservative; B&R tend to play things safer with their Vintage collection. Which is why the Aeronavale range is such a big old bolt from the blue – and boy, did the risk pay off. While the form of the Vintage BR 126 Aeronavale (and indeed the simpler BR 123) is the same as regular versions, the execution is simply stunning. Bell & Ross has managed to turned a 43mm steel chronograph, running off an ETA-based movement into a glittering jewel. Key to this transformation is the rich blue starburst dial, with radial brushing. The twin subdials contrast nicely, thanks to the fine circular engraving. Thanks to this ever-changing finish the watch already dances and plays in different lights, but when you add gold toned hands and applied hour markers you get a watch that doesn’t stop. It looks incredible on the wrist. In low lights it looks dark, almost reserved, but as soon as you a stray beam catches it at the… Read More

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IN-DEPTH: Bell & Ross think outside the square with the sharply styled BR 123 Aeronavale

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The story in a second Bell & Ross ditch the tactical style of the flight deck in favour of the formality of the parade ground. Ever since I reviewed the surprisingly seductive beige dialled Vintage BR 123 way back in the early days of Time+Tide I’ve had a soft spot for Bell & Ross’s round watches. The Vintage line offers a solid platform for the design-oriented brand play with colour, materials and military codes. Don’t believe me? Look at the watch above, then compare it to the beige dialled version, and finally check out this blacked-out chrono. Same essential platform – three completely different results. The unifying factor? A link back to the world of aviation. In the case of the Aeronavale the inspiration is more parade ground and less flight deck – the distinctive blue and gold livery comes from the dress uniforms of French naval pilots – the Aeronavale. The dial It seems the French navy know a classic colour combo when they see one, because the deep blue and shining gold of the Aeronavale is a real winner. It translates well on the wrist too. The sunburst blue dial and applied gold tone markers and hands look sharp… Read More

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HANDS-ON: The Bell & Ross BR 01 Instrument de Marine – an eighteenth century take on their classic square pilot

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If Bell & Ross’s Skull Bronze implicitly referenced the golden age of exploration with its nautical case material, the BR 01 Instrument de Marine is far more explicit in its influence. This distinctive watch is inspired by marine chronometres, naval timekeeping devices that were crucial for navigation in a pre-electronic age – the eighteenth century equivalent of a pilot’s dash display. Mixing this extremely classical style of watch with the aviation instrument inspired BR 01 case is quite a stylistic jump for Bell & Ross, but oddly enough it works. Instrument de Marine isn’t a single model, rather it’s a nascent collection of three pieces. The BR 01 is the simplest, and I think, the purest option (there’s a chronograph and a tourbillon if you’re that way inclined). The 46mm case is bronze, with inset side panels of rosewood, with titanium details. Yep, you read that right – rosewood. Not the typical case material, but one that, in Bell & Ross’s square case, echoes the large wooden boxes marine chronometres were stored in. The wood might sound odd, but it’s quite a good look in real life, adding some warmth and texture to the watch. And it would be interesting… Read More

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HANDS-ON: Is the Bell & Ross BR 126 Aeronavale the best (and boldest) Vintage model yet?

bell-ross-126-aeronavale-5

Bell & Ross has never been afraid of colour. And their bold, highly graphical square instrument watches are a natural canvas for creative experimentation. The brand’s more traditional round watches are a little bit of a different story – inherently more conservative; B&R tend to play things safer with their Vintage collection. Which is why the Aeronavale range is such a big old bolt from the blue – and boy, did the risk pay off. While the form of the Vintage BR 126 Aeronavale (and indeed the simpler BR 123) is the same as regular versions, the execution is simply stunning. Bell & Ross has managed to turned a 43mm steel chronograph, running off an ETA-based movement into a glittering jewel. Key to this transformation is the rich blue starburst dial, with radial brushing. The twin subdials contrast nicely, thanks to the fine circular engraving. Thanks to this ever-changing finish the watch already dances and plays in different lights, but when you add gold toned hands and applied hour markers you get a watch that doesn’t stop. It looks incredible on the wrist. In low lights it looks dark, almost reserved, but as soon as you a stray beam catches it at the… Read More

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HANDS-ON: Heavy metal thunder – the Bell & Ross BR 01 Burning Skull

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Bell & Ross has a thing for skulls. Since 2009 they’ve regularly enjoyed the danse macabre (or dance of death if your French is a little dusty). Of course, being Bell & Ross there’s an aviation link – the skull is a symbol commonly used by US Airborne Divisions. But as the years pass, the brand has taken the basic concept of a skull-emblazoned BR 01 in some exciting new directions, like 2015’s Skull Bronze. This year, Bell & Ross continues to explore the themes of adventure, daring and general badassery with the impressive BR 01 Burning Skull. For once the giant skull that comprises the dial isn’t the first thing you notice. Instead it’s the intricate black-lacquer filled engraving that stands out. Inspired by the world of tattoos, the 46mm steel case is dominated by the detailed flames that give the watch its name. These flames engulf the entire watch, including the sides and the caseback, which is hands down one of the best-looking solid casebacks we’ve seen in a long, long time. Hidden in the flames are other common tattoo motifs: a rose, a heart, an hourglass and the ace of spades. The skull itself is rendered in… Read More

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IN-DEPTH: The Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT Chronograph

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You may have noticed we’re all about the Bell & Ross AeroGT collection this week. After all, who didn’t spend their childhood creating jet-inspired cars, and imagining a world in which they could exist. Seriously, how much fun must B&R have had working on the AeroGT – and extending the concept out into two very cool watches. We’ve already reviewed the the three-handed BR03-92, but so far we’ve only given you a quick taste of the chronograph with our 60-second video. Now it’s time for a little more focus. The dial Let’s cut to the chase. This watch is all about the dial. Or rather, the lack of it. The skeletonised dial is at the heart of the AeroGT’s appeal. Rather than opt for something ornate, Bell & Ross has gone for a more brutal approach, with lots of straight lines and machined finishes. It’s an effect that’s entirely on-brand, and brings to mind a racing team removing all superfluous elements from their car in an effort to reduce weight and increase performance. And just in case all the weight-savings aren’t enough, Bell & Ross has added some go-faster details – chronograph indicators and date arrow. Nice elements that break up the… Read More

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HANDS-ON: Bell & Ross hits the highway with the BR03-92 AeroGT

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We’ve already met the brooding chunk of finely machined steel that is the BR03-94 AeroGT chronograph. Well, today we’re having a look at its less complicated brother – the BR03-92 AeroGT. While the fundamentals of this time-only AeroGT are very similar to the many other BR03-92 models – namely the square 42mm case, the distinctive case screws, short lugs and chunky strap – in reality this feels like a completely different watch. That’s thanks to the stripped back, cut-away dial and the slick rally strap, complete with go-faster red piping. Aside from being incredibly fun to wear, this watch demonstrates Bell & Ross’s formidable design prowess. The bold military styling of the very first Bell & Ross instrument watch was crucial in rocketing the French brand to popularity in the early to mid-2000s, but as with its peers and competitors Panerai and Hublot, a recognisable design can be something of a blessing and a curse. After all, continuing to create interesting and appealing watches that conform to the same essential DNA must be a challenge. The solution for Bell & Ross has been to avoid repetition by constantly reinventing its square icon, using new materials and developing smart aviation-inspired associations, such as the skull-emblazoned Airborne collection and last year’s Rafale tie-in. The… Read More

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