Bell & Ross have always been a watchmaker to avoid conventionality. Even their most traditional looking timepieces are square-shaped with perfectly round dials interrupting at the centre. A family from the Swiss manufacturer that disrupts convention more than any other is their Skull collection. Every few years, Bell & Ross launches one of these limited edition Skull watches to prove their prowess with avant-garde techniques. The latest to join the ultra-modern collection is the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica watch.
The first Bell & Ross Skull watch was launched in 2019 offering the framework of their BR 01 model with a skull-shaped dial, four bones leading out to the iconic four case screws and hands mimicking pirate swords. Ever since, this limited edition has been followed by multiple iterations in different materials and with different complications including a tourbillon model in 2011 and the first bronze edition in 2015. One of the most significant out of the lot remains the BR 01 Laughing Skull watch introduced in 2018 which debuted Bell & Ross’ first ever automaton movement. This meant that as you wound the movement, the jaws of the skull appeared as if it was laughing. Then three years ago in 2020, the luxury watch brand changed things up again with the original Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull watch. This futuristic design used ceramic and sapphire crystal to make it appear as if the skull and bones was floating in mid-air, with the manufacture movement perfectly adapted to hide behind it.
The new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica watch copies the architecture of the 2020 Cyber Skull watch but instead incorporates a new material, the patina-pending metal of bronze. The entire case, crown and pin buckle are engineered from this alloy (CuAI7Si2) which is ultimately a blend of copper and tin. Like other bronze watches, the limited edition will acquire a unique patina over time, changing colour and texture and becoming completely bespoke to the wrist it sits upon.
As before, there’s a departure from the more traditional square-shaped case with four screws at each corner. Instead, the case is insanely modern with a faceted structure for a sleek and futuristic look. Bell & Ross describe the style of the case to be “reminiscent of the angular fuselage of a stealth aircraft”, revealing the same mass of angles and facets which reduce the radar signature of the plane. The almost-square case is disrupted by angles in the corners and measures to 45mm by 46.7mm in diameter and 13.70mm thick. The Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica Limited Edition is finished by faceted sapphire crystal glass on top.
Joining the warmth of the new bronze case, the skull-shaped dial of the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze watch is finished in rose gold-plating. The skull and crossbones appear as if they are floating between the two sheets of sapphire crystal but are in fact cleverly secured by four matching rose gold plated screws at each corner, fixing the skull to the movement behind it. The movement has been immaculately developed to fit almost perfectly in line with the skull with just subtle elements like the barrel at 6 o’clock and certain gear trains visible. The main element on show is the spiral balance wheel at 12 o’clock which is designed to symbolise the brain of the skull full of life. At the centre of the dial is two gilt hands for the hours and minutes dressed in Superluminova inserts.
The Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze Replica Limited Edition still maintains its automaton mechanism which sees the jaw of the skull come to life when you manually wind the movement. The jaw moves up and down as if it is laughing at you and when it unwinds, it gives you a clearer view of the barrel behind it. The movement used is the Calibre BR-CAL.210 with a frequency of 28,800vph and a power reserve of 50 hours. Finally, the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze watch is completed by a 50 metre water resistant rating and a black rubber strap with bronze pin buckle.