This year saw Bell & Ross expand their popular Renault Sport collection, and add a smaller, regular dialled version. I had the pleasure of chatting with Bell & Ross co-founder and CEO, Carlos Rosillo, to discuss the new models, and hear his thoughts on the ongoing partnership with Renault Sport.
Most people know Bell & Ross for their iconic aviation-inspired timepieces; however, Carlos sees the partnership with Renault as a natural fit, highlighting their fondness of Bell & Ross, and Renault’s Chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, as key reasons for the partnership coming to fruition.
Launching into F1 was foreign territory for Bell & Ross, but partnering with a fellow French brand makes sense. Now in year three of the partnership, Carlos has gained several insights into the sport, and what it takes to be successful — placing a high emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.
CR: It’s like in any business – it’s all about teamwork. You need the right car and the right team; if you do, you have a better chance to succeed.
Looking at the collection itself, we saw an additional model added, the BR 03-94, which features a ‘regular’ carbon fibre dial, and comes in at 42mm in diameter (whereas the other two pieces share a larger 45mm case size). This particular model is a new addition to the R.S. 18 collection, and though limited, is being produced in a higher volume — 999 pieces. This increased volume comes from the commercial success and popularity of last year’s collection. Carlos noted that the brand underestimated just how many F1 fans there are, which resulted in overwhelming popularity for the R.S. 18 collection.
CR: The watches, of course, they’re limited editions, but they’ve been really very successful. The challenge has been to regenerate yourself, going into continuity and generating a surprise – which I think we’ve done well this year.
Commerciality aside, for Bell & Ross the expansion of the line was planned from the start, with creativity front of mind.
CR: When we began, it was a trial and then we have been very successful, so we decided to make another three-year plan. We know what models we want to create; our only challenge is being creative enough to maintain this continuity.
Bell & Ross are also very proud of the time and effort that went into the creation of the R.S. 18 strap, which was created especially for the partnership — and a perforated strap they refer to as ‘unrivalled’.
CR: Three things make these straps special. Firstly, the shape of the rubber, which has been studied to ensure maximum breathability. Secondly, the lightness, and thirdly – comfort – it’s very soft. We’ve also incorporated the tyre tread into the design, which also serves a practical purpose. Several months went into the development of this strap. It was a good match with the automotive theme. We can expect to see this technology applied to other watches.
Bell & Ross pride themselves, and this range specifically, on integrating the very best technology, mechanical expertise and materials into timepieces. We see materials like micro-blasted titanium, carbon fibre and anodised aluminium used in these pieces. The use of such exotic materials and finishings came with its challenges, but Carlos noted the overlap and similarities between materials used in aviation and automotive.
On design, yellow has a strong presence in this collection, which is Renault’s colour — and all the pieces are vibrant and colourful. However, legibility is of utmost importance. Carlos talked through the use of colour for this collection.
CR: It comes down to what gives you the inspiration. Last year it was the steering wheel, and this year it was the body of the car. Of course, it makes a big difference. Last year we had many colours of the steering wheel, this year we have much less colour.
The second piece in the collection is the BR-X1 R.S. 18, the skeletonised dial chronograph. Like the others, it features a micro-blasted titanium case and is water resistant to 100m. Although it shares a movement with the BR 03-94, this piece is differentiated by the skeletonised dial and a few other design cues such as the yellow rocker style pushers. The BR-X1 R.S. 18 is limited to 250 pieces.
Rounding out the collection is the BR-X1 R.S.18 Tourbillon, which (naturally) features a completely different movement — the BR-CAL.283. This calibre is a hand-wound flying tourbillon, made up of 282 components and has a 4-day power reserve. Unlike the other two pieces, the tourbillon is also a monopusher column wheel chronograph.
Bell & Ross designed this collection with the aim of providing a watch for Formula One lovers. The kind of fans who obsess over the sport but are unlikely to ever get the chance to drive a car. This is Bell & Ross’ F1 experience on the wrist.
Bell & Ross R.S. 18 collection Australian pricing and availability
Bell & Ross BR 03-94 R.S. 18 (regular dial chronograph), limited to 999 pieces, $10,500, BR-X1 R.S. 18 (skeletonised dial chronograph) limited to 25 pieces, $33,500, BR-X1 R.S. 18 Tourbillon (skeletonised dial, tourbillon) limited to 20 pieces, POA.
For more infomation on the collection, visit Bell & Ross.