The United States Army Air Corps standardized paint colors to be used on military assets in 1939. The Joint Aircraft Committee’s Subcommittee on Standardization elected to implement the the ANA (Army Navy Aircraft) color standard. This color standard created ANA 616, otherwise known as “Desert Sand.” Much like Olive Drab, this color has come to define military equipment, and to the general public it’s instantly recognizable as something purely tactical, as well as functional.
So it’s no surprise that Bell and Ross BR V2-92 chose the color scheme for the dial of the new Bell and Ross BR V2-92 sports watch. The company has made a name – and defined an identity – with large square-cased watches designed after cockpit instrumentation. But the V2-92 is nothing like those – instead it thoughtfully straddles a number of traditional watch categories. The Bell and Ross BR V2-92 has the face of a field watch, the bezel of a dive watch, and the personality of something straight from Operation Desert Shield.
There’s a certain balance to this watch that’s hard to come by; the models typically associated with Bell & Ross don’t quite exemplify the same sort of utilitarian design that the V2-92 gets right. It’s a total military mash-up, with design elements borrowed from field watches and dive watches packaged in a thin case. The domed crystal adds some additional thickness, for a total of 12mm thickness overall, but thanks to the thin case and high domed crystal you still get a very wearable watch.
The late ’80s saw the arrival of the Desert Battle Dress Uniform as the US military presence in desert regions increased. It was nicknamed “cookie dough camouflage” for its hues of tan and brown. The V2-92 feels like it could have been issued right alongside this battle dress uniform, but could it stand up to the same rigors?
One hundred meters of water resistance puts it closer to field watch territory than in the dive watch camp, and the bi-directional bezel doesn’t offer the same sort of safety as a unidirectional bezel, but I don’t think this is the watch to take diving anyway. It’s a sort of do-it-all watch; a jack of all trades that sacrifices doing one thing really well in order to do a good job at the mix of situations an everyday watch is used for. I don’t think the target demographic will take any points off for the one-in-a-million chance that a bezel gets knocked off by a few clicks underwater. From a purely practical standpoint, a bi-directional bezel makes more sense anyway; when you have gloves on, you want to turn the bezel the least amount of distance possible. What this also means is that typical “bezel slop” isn’t present, instead you get an affirmative click in either direction. A display caseback may also contribute to the level of water resistance, but it frames the lightly finished BR-CAL.302 nicely.
While the enthusiast world might have trouble with date wheels, the Swiss industry as a whole just doesn’t seem to want to let them go. Naturally, there is a date wheel on this model, but it’s integrated so thoughtfully that it shouldn’t bother even the most cranky no-date purist (I’m one of them). The date wheel is color matched, and this isn’t a standard black or white-dialed watch, either. It’s a very specific hue of military beige, and the window is rather small. Again, this watch strikes an admirable balance between typically competing camps.
The V2-92 wears the same typography as other Bell & Ross watches, but it appears softer, and the domed crystal distorts and diffuses it in a way that tones down the boldness found of some of the better-known models in the line. The bracelet also features polished center links. It balances out the hardcore tool watch aesthetic, but it’s also something you would never find on a watch that was actually engineered for the military in the modern era, anyway. You will, however, find an elastic canvas strap made famous by the Marine Nationale, included with the V2-92. Originally, the legend goes, paratroopers fashioned straps for their issued watches from the stretchy parachute webbing. The Bell & Ross strap features color-matched desert tan-accented black paracord.
The “vintage-inspired” branding is perhaps manifested in the domed crystal, but this watch certainly channels an earlier era of Bell & Ross, an era when the nascent company released watches like the Type Démineur, a watch designed for bomb disposal units, or the Space 3, a chrono that just screams “shuttle era.” Bell & Ross watches were initially produced by tool watch maker Sinn; the V2-92 shares a lot of the same design language as the Sinn-era Bell & Ross models, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Collectors are now considering watches from the ’80s and ’90s as “vintage,” and the V2-92 is branded as a vintage-inspired timepiece. The design of the watch, much like that of the A-10 Warthog that shined during the Desert Shield conflict in 1990, works just as well in 2019.