Bell & Ross has become the latest luxury watch brand to tackle the extremely challenging mission of creating a watch with a case made entirely from sapphire. But it didn’t stop there. The new Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire boasts a skeletonized movement equipped with both a flying tourbillon and a monopusher chronograph.
After a few years shrugging off the threat of e-commerce, the Swiss best watches for the money industry is gradually embracing it. Typical of the numerous Swiss observe brands, all 300 plus of whom like to lead but never follow, there are a number of different approaches to selling luxury watches online. Read my round-up of these approaches gleamed from discussions in Baselworld today.
The transparent case of the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire measures 45 mm in diameter and is cut from six blocks of sapphire, one each for the case middle, back, bezel, crystal, and bumpers. Sapphire (known in mineralogical circles as Corundum) is the second-hardest material on Earth — only diamond is harder — and almost entirely scratch-proof, and the process by which it is made into a finished watch reviews under 200 case is extraordinarily difficult, involving many hours of machining and polishing. The openworked dial has applied metal hour indices and hands filled with Super-LumiNova.
During the launch event of the new Renault Sports F1 Team racing car, R.S.17, the teams view partner, Bell & Ross, also took the opportunity to unleash its most-anticipated novelty, the BR03-94 RS17. The F1-inspired design of the observe brings together the latest technological advances and the most innovative materials from the automotive racing world. This exciting novelty is said to be part of a trilogy launching that will take place later this year at Baselworld 2017.
Elements visible through the dial include the column wheel, which drives the chronograph, at 12 o’clock; the semi-instantaneous jumping hand (instead of a more traditional sweeping hand); and a hand-type indicator at 9 o’clock, which displays the state of the movement’s impressive 100-hour (four days) power reserve. The manually winding movement, Caliber BR-CAL.285, has a mainplate and pillars that have been machined from a single block of metal and painstakingly skeletonized to offer ideal views to such operations as the starting, stopping, and resetting of the chronograph and the rotations of the flying tourbillon.
The chronograph readouts are at 10 o’clock (30-minute counter) and 2 o’clock (60-second counter). Also visible at 2 o’clock is the monopusher rocker that controls the start, stop, and reset functions. The large flying tourbillon cage, enhanced by Bell & Ross’s ampersand logoform, occupies the spot at 6 ‘clock, and, thanks to the transparency of the case, can be viewed not only from the front but from the back and sides as well. From the back, you get a view of the power reserve differential and the mainspring barrel.
The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon completes the crystal-clear look with a bi-material strap made of translucent rubber with metallic kevlar weaving; it fastens to the wrist with a polished steel pin buckle. The watch is limited to just five pieces worldwide and priced at $500,000.