Avast, ye hearties! Prepare for your wrists to be boarded by these massive Bell & Ross mechanical watches. B&R is most famous for the aviation-themed pieces – all of them black and square with huge readable faces and handsome straps. Now they’ve taken that same aesthetic and pushed it out to sea, creating three fascinating pieces that look like a cross between a Bioshock weapon and Captain Nemo’s pacemaker.
The entry-level model is called BR 01 Instrument De Marine and features a white lacquer dial with rosewood highlights around the dial. It comes in a limited series of 500 pieces.
The BR-X1 is a chronograph – basically a stopwatch – with a skeletonize face and and 18-carat rose gold and wood case. The movement has a 100-hour power reserve – you have to wind it once every four days – and the Tourbillon edition has a a rotating escape wheel – the little wheel that spins back and forth on the movement – consisting of “282 minuscule constituent parts.”
Why should you care? And why is B&R going nautical? First, this is one of the most interesting things to come out of the company in a while. They’ve been producing some very handsome mechanicals for years but nothing has quite pushed the envelope like this series of monsters. Further, it’s an interesting departure from B&R’s aviation roots.
No pricing is available right now – I’d expect the entry level models to hit about $10,000 and the tourbillon to cost as much as a nice Toyota sedan. But the fact that B&R is sticking to its guns and making beautiful watches for beautiful and handsome sailors is a testament to the timelessness and tenacity of the Swiss watch industry. Now we just have to hope that Apple doesn’t add a rosewood detail to the Apple Watch 3.