Baring all for your wrist pleasure – Introducing the BR05 Skeleton Blue LE
Editor’s note: This is a short Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new BR05 Skeleton Blue LE watch. For our detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here.
What is it: The relatively new BR05 Skeleton Blue LE
Why: Because the world can’t seem to get enough of integrated bracelet steel sports watches. And also because the blue-tinted transparent dial looks quite appealing enveloped by the coldness of the steel’s rampant cage around it
When released: June 2020
Where: Available globally, in limited numbers of 500-pieces only
Who is it for: For the person queuing up outside an AP boutique for years. Sarcasm aside, it is for someone who wants a limited edition stainless steel luxury sports integrated bracelet watch that features Bell & Ross’s iconic design architecture and that also showcases the movement. It’s for someone who wants to have something different, yet within the parameters of what’s cool these days
How does it do: Bell & Ross have their distinctive design language: square case, round dial, and one screw in each of the four corners. The new BR05 Skeleton Blue LE manages to score despite playing rather safe; the new watch pretty much looks at the check list of what is popular these days and ticks every box: blue dials, tick; stainless steel body, check; integrated bracelet, not quite but looks like it, check; screws on bezels, check; novelty, a skeletonised dial, check. High legibility despite a transparent dial and minimalistic sans date dial are the highlights.
Missing: A low 38-hour power reserve and the lack of an in-house movement is a let down.
The new BR05 Skeleton Blue LEs reference BR05A-BLU-SKST (rubber strap) or BR05A-BLU-SKST/SST (metal bracelet) feature an automatic winding calibre BR-CAL.322 with a 38-hour power reserve. This movement is based on the Sellita SW300-1 and has been modified for Bell & Ross. The 25.6mm diameter movement comprises of 25 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28,800 Vph), and offers the functions of hours, minutes, and central seconds.
In regards to the modifications, Bell & Ross have incorporated a wheel-shaped, open-worked 360° rotor (in blue) that spans the breadth of the movement. Not only that, they have fairly decently finished the movement as well, with the brand’s logo metallised on the sapphire case-back.
It seems that the Sellita movement is Bell & Ross’s bread and butter, featuring in a number of their creations. This movement is again similar to their other offerings, such as the recent Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum reference BR0392-D-C5-CE/SRB. The movement featured here is the calibre BR‐CAL.302 which is essentially again a modified Sellita SW-300 automatic movement, and is also the same movement used in their other recent BR03-92 Grey Lum.
The movement is encased inside a 40mm wide satin-polished steel case with a sapphire case back. This angular case features a fair amount of depth and surface play, with the polished bevels adding to this effect. This case is also well integrated into the metal bracelet that again complements the case by using a mixture of polished — mid section — and satin-brushed — outer H-shaped links — surfaces.
In between all of this metal is the blue-tinted transparent dial, that despite the skeletonisation hasn’t lost its legibility thanks to the use of metal appliqué indices. Both these indices and the skeletonized hands feature Super-Luminova® material as well.
The BR05 Skeleton Blue LE is available either on an integrated rubber strap or a metal bracelet, though for our money we would pick the latter version which not only complements the blue dial better but also is flexible enough to fit on different wrist sizes.
Circle on a square has become an intrinsic Bell & Ross design. BR05 is a recent — introduced in 2019 — family of watches from the brand, marketed towards urban explorers. In short, a family of integrated bracelet sports watches for dwellers of the cities, who would like to have a versatile watch. And in that, the BR05 Skeleton Blue delivers.
I can see that charm behind it; it maintains a certain rigged utilitarian feel to it, but at the same time can transform into a dress watch if the need be. Come to think of it, as a daily beater, it’s pretty effective and owing to the skeletonised look, also sets itself apart.
This is not the first time they have done this though; last year when they launched this collection, they did feature a 500-piece skeleton version ref. BR05A-GR-SK-ST/SST. It pretty much had the same specs that includes the stainless steel case, same movement and an open-worked dial revealing parts of that movement. But I think what’s done better in the new release is the inclusion of the blue crystal, that provides for a great deal of legibility unlike the previous version. In a way it reminds me of the recent Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire Blue, reviewed here, though the execution and finishings on the BR05 Skeleton Blue appear to be far more premium. Two very distinctive watches, yet both manage to break the monotony of solid dialled watched I have reviewed this year with their blue crystals.
In regards to where the new BR05 Skeleton Blue LE sits within a slowly overcrowding market — this category is going to saturate at some point — there are frankly a lot of options to choose from, albeit not at the relatively low price range that the BR05 Skeleton rules in.
The BR05 Skeleton retails for $10’400 AUD. And when one looks at the Swiss watch industry, finding an integrated bracelet watch for under 10K AUD is not easy. This is again where the BR05 Skeleton scores. For instance, the usual suspects such as the 37mm AP Royal Oak (ref. #15450ST.OO.1256ST.01), PP Nautilus (5711) and VC Overseas are all legendary — and hard to come by — and expensive.
The slightly cheaper options that either have an integrated bracelet or visually appear to have one would be (in price ascending order):
- Tudor Royal Day-Date ref. M28600-0005 retailing for $3’150 AUD
- Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic ref. FC-303N4NH6B retailing for $3’150 AUD
- Tudor North Flag ref. M91210N-0001 retailing for $5’220 AUD
- Bell & Ross BR 05 Blue Steel ref. BR05A-BLU-ST/SST retailing for $7’300 AUD
- Omega Constellation 39mm ref. 18.104.22.168.02.001 retailing for $9’250 AUD
- Zenith DEFY Classic 41mm ref. 95.9000.670-51.M9000 retailing for $10’700 AUD
- Glashütte Original Seventies Panorama Date ref. 2-39-47-12-12-14 retailing for $14’800 AUD
- Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42mm retailing for $11’600 USD (~16’000 AUD)
- Piaget Polo ref. G0A41002 retailing for $17’400 AUD
- Bvlgari Octo Finissimo ref. 103431 retailing for $17’800 AUD
- Chopard Alpine Eagle 41mm re. 298600-3001 retailing for $12’800 CHF (~19’000 AUD)
- H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Centre Seconds retailing for 19’900 CHF (~30’000 AUD)
- A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus ref. 363.179 retailing for 27.300 € (~45’000 AUD)
So not only does the Bell & Ross offering sit at the lower end of this price spectrum, it also has the novelty of a skeletonised dial — GP does have an excellent ceramic option but at a premium — that frankly isn’t common when it comes to integrated bracelet options. And it’s got a distinctive circle in a square look. And it’s a limited edition watch. And available. Now!
Soaked in Bell & Ross DNA yet managing to carve out its own niche amongst unchartered territories for the brand is the striking BR05 Skeleton Blue Limited Edition.
To find out more about the new BR05 Skeleton Blue and other Bell & Ross timepieces, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are © BELL & ROSS.