Bell & Ross BR R.S.20 vrooms into the world of Haute Horlogerie

Bell & Ross BR R.S.20 vrooms into the world of Haute Horlogerie

Bell & Ross are foraying into the world of Haute Horlogerie with a bang. The new 2020 watch release Bell & Ross BR R.S.20 range is produced in partnership with the Renault F1® Team and inspired by the high-tech world of Formula 1® as evident through the technical specifications of the watches (discussed below) and the lightweight and resistant materials used.

Designed with the theme “Formula 1®of the future” in mind, these new watches take design codes from the F1® car for the Renault 2020 team and the R.S.2027 concept car. The result is an outstandingly futuristic collection anchored in the present. 

The Context 

Bell & Ross has traditionally been known for aviation related timepieces, and when they announced their foray into the world of motorsports back in 2016, it came as a welcome surprise. 

It was welcome as brands more often than not tend to stick to what they know best, and keep on producing limited after limited editions of those watches same without much experimentation. We won’t take any names here, but I guess our readers would know what brands we are referring to. So when Bell & Ross decide to introduce this new range by announcing a partnership with the Renault F1® Team, I for one found it to be a step forward for the company. 

It then comes as no surprise to me that the new BR R.S.20 series — the R.S. originally is a family of watches inspired by yellow and black single-seaters — that has been effective for five years now blends perfectly the sporty character of Bell & Ross watches with a quintessentially elegant form.

The Series

The BR R.S.20 includes four new sports chronographs including the Haute Horlogerie tourbillon.

1. Features of the Reference BRV394-RS20

The 43mm diameter satin-polished steel watch features the calibre BR-CAL.301 — automatic winding mechanical — movement, a bi-directional rotating steel bezel with anodised black aluminium ring with countdown timer, a screw-down crown, and a black-yellow carbon-effect calfskin or satin-polished steel strap with a satin-polished steel folding buckle.

The sapphire case-back is engraved with “Formula 1® Renault R.S.20”. 

The Dial 

The dial is matt black which offers great legibility with appliqué Super-LumiNova®-filled numerals and metal skeletonized Super-LumiNova®-filled hour and minute hands. 

The dial is covered by a curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and shows the following functions: hours, minutes, small seconds at 3’o clock, date at 4.30, and chronograph with a 30-minute timer at 9’o clock and central chronograph seconds hand. There is also a tachymeter scale on the flange.

BR0394-RS20/SRB | Courtesy Copyright © BELL & ROSS

The Suggestions 

The dial is pretty busy and while it offers decent legibility, we really wish Bell & Ross hadn’t gone with a date window option. It is very awkwardly sandwiched between 4 and 5’o clock and seems almost redundant. 

Also for sake of uniformity, we would have also liked if the two sub-dials were the same size – the one at 3’o clock is smaller and doesn’t eat into the hour numerals like the one at 9’o clock and this non-uniform look can distract from an otherwise good looking round tool watch.  

The Admiration

The watches come with a good water resistance of 100m (10 ATM).

In my opinion, any sports or tool watch with less than 50m water resistance is simply a dress watch posing under the garb of a sports sport, and Bell & Ross have done well by including a higher water resistance here.

Given these are also made in steel, we are looking at great ‘daily beaters’ here. 

Given that these chronographs are produced in a limited edition of 999 pieces, they also offer a certain sense of welcome exclusivity. 

Smaller details and homages generally mark the greatness of a brand.

The new BRV394-RS20 features the typography of hour markers that is the same as the one used by the Renault F1® Team. 

The minute track is split into small black and white chequered squares which symbolises the finish line flag used in motor racing.

And the use of yellow in the hands and the outer rim of the minute track resonates well with the colour scheme of the cars.

2. Features of the Reference BRX1-CHTB-RS20/SRB

The 45mm diameter titanium and matt ceramic with rubber insert watch features the calibre BR-CAL.283 hand-wound flying tourbillon movement with a mono-pusher column wheel chronograph. The watch consists of 282 components, 35 jewels, and runs at the frequency of 3HX (21,600 vph).

Additional features include a bi-directional rotating PVD bezel ring with time marker, a rocker mono-pusher, sapphire case back with anti-reflective coating, and a perforated black rubber strap with a steel pin buckle (and black rubber over-moulding).

Courtesy Copyright © BELL & ROSS

The Dial

The super messy but magically enticing skeletonised dial features metal appliqué Super-LumiNova®-filled indices and metal skeletonized Super-LumiNova®-filled hour and minute hands. 

The dial shows the functions of: 

  1. Hours and minutes
  2. Chronograph with instant jump 30-minute counter at 11’o clock
  3. 60-second counter at 1’o clock
  4. Power reserve indicator at 9’0 clock
  5. Flying tourbillon at 6’o clock 

Produced in a limited edition of just 20 pieces, this Haute Horlogerie offering is a marvel of sophistication and subtlety and boasts of a very impressive 4-day power reserve.

BRX1-RS20/SRB |Courtesy Copyright © BELL & ROSS

The series has two other references: BRX1-RS20/SRB and BR0394-RS20/SRB. 

BR0394-RS20/SRB | Courtesy Copyright © BELL & ROSS

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It?

It may have taken Bruno Belamich, Bell & Ross’s co-founder and creative director 22 years — the brand was founded in 1994 — to break away from the design mould of instrument panels found on aircrafts to try something new and different, but given that the new Bell & Ross BR R.S.20 series is the perfect marriage of Haute Horlogerie with Formula 1®, we can’t wait for the next chapter in this brand’s journey.

For more information on this watch and other Bell & Ross watches, head to their website here.