When it comes to tool watches, there are few brands out there as dedicated to instrument aesthetics as Bell & Ross. Although they may lack centuries of heritage, starting off in the early ’90s with Sinn making their watches, they’ve endeavoured not to be left behind in the everlasting race for technological advancement in watchmaking. Combining their ubiquitous cockpit-instrument inspired case design with their expansion into dive watches, Bell & Ross have brought out the B&R BR03-92 DIVER FULL LUM, a timepiece that truly looks like it was pulled from the cluster of a nuclear submarine.
Of course, the focal point of this beast is the ghoulish, luminous dial. With two slightly different shades of pale green in regular daylight, in darkness (given enough sun exposure or charge with a UV light) the C5 and C3 pigments of Super-LumiNova are torch-like in their brightness. The benefit of a luminous dial rather than just lump-painted hands and markers is that you’re reading the negative space, giving you much more information.
Once lit, the matte black surrounds of the hands, applied indices, and printed minute tracks on the chapter ring grant the contrast necessary for reading the time and elapsed-time diving bezel. One thing to note is that although the date wheel is a colour-matched shade of sour-milk green in daylight, it remains the one thing that can’t be read easily when the lights go out.
The matte black ceramic case of the BR03-92 DIVER is as easily recognisable as it is wearable. Bell & Ross seems to have found a great balance between chunkiness and compact sizing, as the square profile and short lugs means that the 42mm case may take up heaps of visual space but without completely overhanging the boundaries of an average wrist. Most of the large appearance comes from the widened straps (black ridged rubber and black synthetic canvas both included), which have a lug width of 24mm before flaring out to 33mm, keeping an integrated look to the watch and preventing too much sliding around. The unidirectional ceramic bezel, with luminous markers of course, is slightly thinner than most dive watches as well, meaning that there’s more room for the dial and chapter ring to be big and legible.
The enclosed ceramic case is also given anti-magnetic protection, keeping the delicate parts of an automatic watch movement safe from magnetic fields generated by nearby electronics. The workhorse BR-CAL.302 doesn’t bring much excitement to the table, being based on a Swiss Sellita SW300-1, but it does offer significant value in reliability and serviceability. A 38-hour power reserve with a beat rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour makes the watch a more than capable daily wearer, and can easily be regulated to keep time within chronometer standards. The BR03-92 DIVER case may not be capable of Bell & Ross’ frankly ludicrous 11,100m water resistance, achieved in 1997 with the HYDROMAX, but the sapphire crystal and screw-down crown allows this watch to reach the more than adequate rated depth of 300 metres.
Pricing and availability of the BR03-92 DIVER FULL LUM
For $7100AUD, the BR03-92 DIVER FULL LUM is nearly $2000 more expensive than the regular steel-cased versions, and $800 more than the other ceramic case, but it still manages to offer some value. Its release is limited to 999 pieces, so there would definitely be some satisfaction involved with wearing such a unique watch. Whether you’re rocking this on a beach holiday, or alongside a wetsuit, the DIVER FULL LUM is surely a head-turner.