The brand was founded in 1992 by two friends Bruno Belamich and Carlos Rosillo (thus the name Bell & Ross) as a university project. Vekamich is the designer of the watches, and Rosullo is the head of operations. According to an article, some of the brand’s first watches were rebranded Sinn watches, which is a popular German watchmaker.
Soon, Bell & Ross started to make their own designs while still being manufactured by Sinn. It was in 2005 when the brand started to shift to a new direction, with the famous BR-01 Instrument, which is now an iconic round dial within a square-shaped case. We’ll discuss this collection further below.
Bell & Ross draws its inspiration from the history of aviation and the military specifications that accompany it. The company started with a team of watch designers and aeronautical control panel specialists. The group’s goal was to make utilitarian watches for professionals and to make durable and reliable watches for extreme conditions, such as extreme temperatures. Check out this interview of Belamich, who talks about the brand’s design process as well as its inspirations, challenges, and goals.
According to the Bell & Ross website, the company’s watchmaking is inspired by aviation history and military specifications that go with it, “each time carrying out a technical or visual feat to produce an instrument of the highest quality.”
Bell & Ross may not be as popular as other luxury watch brands (it does not have celebrity endorsers, which could have contributed to the lack in popularity), but the brand has been popular among watch aficionados for many years and continues to gain fans all over the world due to its constant evolution and innovation. All Bell & Ross watches are conceptualized and assembled at the company’s facility at La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Below, we’ll introduce you to some of the brand’s best models, and the unique technologies used in creating them. Bell & Ross has three main collections: Vintage, Instrument, and Experimental. We’ll pick one or two models off each line and take a closer look at each of them, as well as describe some of their most notable features.
This collection has three categories: the BR V1 (38.5mm models), BRV2, (41mm models), and BR V3 (43mm models). There are simply too many watches to choose from, so we’re picking certain models that are either new or have enjoyed popularity over the years. We’ll also talk about the inspirations behind some of the watches.
Afew years ago Bell & Ross released their first women’s version of the BR 01 style watch called the BRS (which I first discussed here). The idea of the watch was to be a smaller, more fashion oriented version of the BR 01 done in ceramic. Available in black or white ceramic, it is hard to argue that Bell & Ross wasn’t at least partially influenced by the success of the Chanel J12. Lovely in its design the BRS cannot really be categorized as strictly a woman’s watch, but that is the intended market as I see it. Bell & Ross experimented with ceramic before the BRS, and since the BRS has continued to offer good looking ceramic watches in various forms. The hard material makes for a good looking case that when polished retains the sheen forever really. The BRS case is a 39mm wide square and is very thin. I believe that originally Bell & Ross wanted to include a manually-wound mechanical movement in the BRS, but later decided that a Swiss quartz movement was best. I tend to agree as women often prefer the convenience of quartz movements, especially if they have a range of watches that they wear. Unlike the BR 01, the BRS has a removable caseback which shows that the design of the case is different as opposed to being merely miniaturized. Though visually that is how it looks. The iconic square case is here complete with the large screws on the top of the case. You will however notice that the lug structures are different and better designed for the small case dimensions.
The white ceramic BRS is certainly more feminine that this black version and combines white ceramic with polished steel. On a patent leather strap all versions of the watch are rather feminine, but you can alter that look by placing the BRS on a different strap. For example, imagine this black one on a NATO strap and you can see how that can make it more unisex in design.
Water resistant to 50 meters, the case has an AR coated sapphire crystal. Looking at the dial you can see the evolution from the BR 01. The BRS has a more elegant dial with a subsidiary seconds dial. True to the theme, the hands and hour markers are all coated in SuperLumiNova.