Designed to set the tempo for the first happy years of a budding twentieth century, watches had to adapt to endure the First World War.
With new weaponry such as fighter planes and armoured vehicles appearing on the battlefields, time-keeping devices had to keep up with this technological revolution. Functionality, reliability, precision and durability, thus, became the crucial properties. In order to protect the fragile glass covering the dial, some watches were protected behind fully fledged metal grilles.
With its new watch, the Vintage WW2 Military Tourbillon, Bell & Ross is reinterpreting this glorious watchmaking past, with an exceptional timepiece that incorporates four complications within a 45 mm titanium casing, equipped with a protective cover.
Throughout the First World War, combat —both in the air and on the ground— posed the greatest of risk to the fragile mineral glass on the watches worn by the combatants. The metallic grilles protected the dials, but also hampered visibility and made the watches difficult to read.
Nowadays made from sapphire, modern watch glasses are very solid and no longer require the use of protective shields. For this reason, the cover of the WW2 Military Tourbillon goes beyond the role of evoking the romance of the past, becoming an integral part of the watch, which enhances the wearer’s ability to read the dial thanks to its distinctive curves that emphasize the hands. The openings that have been incorporated into the design of the metal reveal all of the information provided by the timepiece and its complications, thus enabling you to focus on the essential when glancing at your watch face.
When opened via the integrated hinge, this protective shield reveals the entirety of the dial thus allowing you to admire its classic elegance, and still remains functional even when closed, thanks to the discrete minute markers.
Thanks to the option of having the cover open or closed, this WW2 Military Tourbillon has two faces. And while it evokes a noble military past, when danger threatened both the watch and its wearer, its protective shield design now serves to add visual appeal and to stir up emotions in a way that only fine watchmaking can.
As a result of their military inspiration, watches from Bell & Ross have always responded to extreme requirements, whether with regard to strength, water-resistance or reliability. However, because ultra precision represents the supreme challenge faced by any watchmaker, Bell & Ross have chosen to fit their top-of-the-range watches with a tourbillon.
Due to its capacity to compensate for the effects of terrestrial gravity on certain of the major components movements, this concept, developed in 1801, remains the iconic symbol of fine watchmaking. Even today, only the major watchmaking companies manage to master the realization of these veritable masterpieces of miniaturization, which make tourbillon watches the most sought after by collectors.
The quintessence of fine watchmaking combined with the requirements of an aeronautical instrument: because the on-board instrumentation in airplane cockpits represents the gold standard in terms of legibility and performance, in 2007 Bell & Ross decided to equip its iconic square-shaped model, the BR 01, with a tourbillon.
Thus, optimal legibility, both by day and by night, and high-quality materials —high-tech with regard to weight and resistance — were added to the sophistication of a movement combining a tourbillon, a precision indicator, a regulator and a power-reserve indicator; a combination unique to the BR 01 line.
Bell & Ross went one step further in 2011 by designing a tourbillon watch featuring a separate timer. The ultra precision of the tourbillon is thus enhanced with a flyback timer function, enabling the measurement of short time periods with instant legibility. In order to further increase the sophistication of this spectacular rectangular timepiece, Bell & Ross only produced it in two limited editions of 30 pieces, in pink gold and titanium.
With the round, vintage design of the WW2 Military Tourbillon, the company is writing a new page in history and enhancing the “Tourbillon” chapter with an unprecedented watchmaking adventure.
By integrating the four tourbillon complications, the precision indicator, regulator and power-reserve into the round casing of the Vintage WW2 Military Tourbillon, Bell & Ross gives a new face to the spirit of «fine watchmaking» expressed since the release of the BR01 Tourbillon in 2007.
The crosswise layout of the various functions combines readability and functionality. Raising the protective covers reveals the dial in all its glory. The contrast of the matte black flange around the circumference, the “Côte de Genève” decorated metallic surfaces and additional counters, which play on this contrast to reinforce readability, creates visual depth and a «three dimensional» effect combining elegance with the precision of the indications.
Remaining loyal to its military inspiration in giving priority to the readability of short time cycles, the WW2 Military Tourbillon features a regulator movement, a watchmaking principle whereby hours and minutes are displayed via separate dials. While the minute hand has a central axis and sweeps across the entire dial, the hour hand has a dedicated miniature dial positioned at 12 o’clock.
At the 3 o’clock position, another hand (Trust Index), turning on a semi-circle, indicates the level of precision of the movement on the basis of the tension of the barrel spring. At 9 o’clock is the power reserve indicator (5 days), which rounds off the information provided by the precision indicator. Between them, these complications mean that the wearer of the watch is not required to wind up the movement to ensure the optimal function of the watch.
Finally, the dial opens at 6 o’clock revealing the tourbillon’s pink gold “cage”, of which a rotation lasting one minute allows the Bell & Ross «&» symbol to play the role of a small second.
The Bell & Ross designers have opted to make the Vintage WW2 Military Tourbillon a link between yesterday, today and tomorrow. Thus, while the open lid evokes memories of the grilles protecting the military watches of bygone eras, its transparent sapphire caseback allows its carbon fiber bridges and plates to be seen; this high-tech material was chosen on account of its strength and light weight.
Although the casing seemingly stems from the past, with its patina style and its oversized striated crown to allow for good grip, it is made from satin-polished Grade 5 titanium, to which a PVD treatment lends a “gunmetal gray” color, entirely in keeping with the spirit of the watch.
The use of a sophisticated material such as titanium enables the reconciliation of the 45 mm diameter of the casing with Bell & Ross requirements regarding weight and strength.
The bracelet, available in aged leather or brown alligator skin and reminiscent of the elegance of early wristwatches, plays the “wearer comfort” card thanks to its flexibility and the presence of movable lugs.
All of these construction and finish details — whether the hinge of the lid and the design of its central openings, the movable lugs of the bracelet or the distinct color of the titanium — make the Vintage WW2 Military Tourbillon a sophisticated watch, whereby all of the specific details convey the spirit of authenticity that guided the design team.
With the Vintage WW2 Military Tourbillon, the most recent addition to its very exclusive collection of fine timepieces, Bell & Ross once again expresses its personal view of the past. By integrating a tourbillon, a regulator, a precision indicator and a power-reserve indicator beneath a protective lid, thus evoking an entire chapter of history, the company decidedly emphasizes its complications.
And while the character-filled spirit of this timepiece —of which only 20 have been produced— draws inspiration from the legendary watchmaking of the past, its materials make it a watch that is entirely in keeping with its time, and one that also looks towards the future.
Model: Bell and Ross WW2 Military Tourbillon
Limited Edition of 20 Pieces
Collection: Vintage Collection
Mechanical movement tourbillon with manual winding
Pink gold tourbillon carriage
Glissandi-reflection sapphire crystal
Hours (top counter), minutes (central hand)
Power reserve indicator (5 days)
With protective lid: 45mm diameter, Titanium polished satin finish
Titanium with PVD finishes coating
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Matt black with screwed in titanium finish metallic plate featuring “Côtes de Genève” decorations Hands, figures and indexes in golden metal
Clasp: titanium pin buckle
Brown alligator skin