When a watchmaker has as distinctive a style as Bell & Ross, it is always interesting to witness the launch of a new collection. Bell & Ross has done what few have managed to do in a crowded horological landscape: carve out a powerful niche with a genuinely unique aesthetic. Its Instrument watches, exemplified by the BR 03 collection, draws the eye with its square-shaped case and its clear homage to aviation apparatus. The new BR 05 is a measured attempt to walk a very fine line: maintain the key design elements that made the brand famous, but reach out to a new audience with a fresh look. It is based around a faceted steel case with an integrated bracelet, notable for its flat bezel with four prominent screws. If that sounds familiar, it should – this is an established style of dressy sports watch, but this time with a Bell & Ross spin.
The BR 05 is quite simple in execution, but the faceted 40mm case is a pleasing and proportionate mixture of satin and polished surfaces that encourages the gaze to linger. It is still quite recognisably Bell & Ross: the circle-in-a-square is back, even if the corners have been softened, and the stark numerals remain even if the dial has been given a shinier sunray treatment and the hands are slimmer and more elegant.
It is clear that a lot of thought has been put into the design, and the little details such as the border of the colour-matched date window and the shapely way it sits on the wrist portray the brand’s diligence in bringing this to market. The BR 03 succeeded on the strength of its rebellious demeanour, but always felt more at home in leather jacket and jeans. The BR 05 loses little of that adventurous edge, but dresses up a little better to become a timepiece that is a little more urban and urbane.
At launch, the BR 05’s core collection consists of choices of black, grey and blue dials with integrated bracelet (RM22,200). Each can also be had with a black rubber strap instead (RM19,700).