Nearly ten years ago, Bell & Ross launched the BR 01, a distinctive, high-performance watch directly inspired by on-board flight instruments. It has become an iconic watch thanks to its square shape, its round dial with perfect legibility, its broad dimensions and the efficiency of its functional design. Since then, the BR 01 has continued to evolve without losing its original identity.
A tribute to the Bell X-1, the first American experimental plane with a rocket engine to break the sound barrier (Mach 1, 1224 km/h) in 1947, in 2014 Bell & Ross pushed the boundaries of innovation even further by launching its fifth-generation watch, the BR-X1, a high-end chronograph with a resolutely sporty design and sophisticated haute horlogerie finishes.
Inspired by 21st century fighter planes whose futuristic cockpits are made from fine, high-tech materials to optimise their structure, the BR-X1 is truly unique: a high-tech watch which is both powerful and pioneering. In one word: contemporary. The BR-X1 is to luxury watchmaking what fifth-generation fighter planes are to aviation: a guarantee of ultimate performance.
In 2014, Bell & Ross unveiled its new BR-X1 line, in the form of a high-tech, sporty chronograph, which was robust yet sophisticated. An extreme version of the BR-01, whose iconic square shape is directly inspired by aeronautical flight instruments, the BR-X1 is much more than a high-end contemporary sports watch: it is the “Ultimate Utility Watch.
“This year, still at the forefront of technological innovation, primarily originating in the aeronautical and military domains, Bell & Ross has equipped its hypersonic chronograph with a lightweight, ultra-resistant material: Carbone Forgé ®(forged carbon).
In its constant quest for excellence, Bell & Ross has chosen to incorporate a high-tech composite material in the design of the BR-X1: Carbone Forgé®. Both lightweight and extremely strong, it plays a key role in the aeronautical and space industry, notably in the production of structural parts used for fuselages that are subjected to extreme mechanical stress.
Carbone Forgé® is a material obtained using a unique, patented conversion process. The technology behind the process involves compressing carbon fibres with a thermosetting resin at high temperature in a steel mould.
To meet watchmaking quality criteria, the engineers have reworked the carbon fibres and the composition of the resin. The result is a non-porous, water-resistant single-unit case with clean edges, in a deep black, which is the colour of the carbon fibres. The marbled appearance of each piece is unique thanks to the random way the carbon fibres are mixed. The matt finish reduces reflection for better legibility, and makes it soft to the touch.
To protect it from the ravages of time and any possible impacts, a “bumper” in high-tech ceramic and rubber surrounds the square case of the BR-X1.
High-tech ceramic, a material also borrowed from aeronautic and space industry, is used to design parts that are subject to very high temperatures, acid attack, corrosion and erosion, such as heat shields or the noses of space rockets. Almost as tough as a diamond, the high-tech ceramic developed by Bell & Ross can be dyed in the mass, is hard-wearing, non-deformable and lighter than steel.
Its innovative rocker push buttons are used to activate the chronograph functions; these push buttons are also made from high-tech ceramic with ergonomically designed rubber inserts, in order to optimise their grip and stability. A rubber button grip insert is also built into the case at 9 o’clock to activate the chronograph functions, even when wearing gloves. The case is equipped with functional non-indexed screws. The sapphire glass has an antireflective coating to ensure resistance and optimal legibility.
The pioneering, multi-material design (Carbone forgé®, titanium, ceramic, rubber) of the BR-X1 Carbone Forgé® results in a lightweight, strong and ergonomic piece.
The chronograph is the complication par excellence in aviation. It can measure short periods of time and has become an essential tool in navigation. It is for these reasons that the chronograph has always enjoyed a special place among the aviation watch specialists at Bell & Ross.
It is only natural that their latest creation –the BR-X1– is not just any chronograph. Its rare skeleton chronograph movement is an exceptional motor combining strength and extreme lightness. Structured in the shape of an “X”, its upper bridge (treated with black DLC) reads like its signature. “X” is the code name that refers to NASA’s experimental projects, and which gives the watch its name: the BR-X1.
As is the tradition at Bell & Ross, the back of the BR-X1 – made from grade 5 PVD titanium – features a small, round opening which reveals the beating heart of the balance. Made from grey-tinted sapphire crystal and featuring appliqué metal indices with photo-luminescent inserts, the dial forms a clear window through which the exceptional movement can be admired. The faceted, Superluminova®-filled hands and appliqué indices offer perfect legibility.
The central hour and minute hands are read traditionally, while the small seconds hand is positioned at 3 o’clock. The skeleton date dial is positioned at 6 o’clock. Instead of a hand, the minute timer on the chronograph function features an ultra-light aluminium disc resembling the blades of a turbine. The hand on the central second counter indicates quarters of a second.
Essential for calculating speeds, the tachymeter scale appears on the flange; the chronograph hands are marked with a subtle touch of red. Made from rubber, the black strap is structured with a groove, which makes it more comfortable while preserving its strength. Made from black PVD steel, and featuring a moulded black rubber insert, the buckle is both robust and refined.
The perfect synthesis of Bell & Ross skill in professional timepieces and fine horological complications, the BR-X1 is an exceptional instrument with a pioneering design. Set on revolutionising the watchmaking world, and thanks to its multi-material case, the BR-X1 Carbone Forgé® combines a high-tech, sporty character with haute horlogerie finishes.
Model: Bell and Ross BR-X1 SKELETON CHRONOGRAPH
LIMITED EDITION OF 250 PIECES
Automatic mechanical. BR-CAL.313. ‘X’-shaped upper bridge
56 jewels, 28,800 vph
Grey-tinted sapphire crystal
Appliqué metal indices with Superluminova® inserts
Metal skeleton Superluminova®-filled hour and minute hands
Aluminium 30-min chronograph timer disc
Hours, minutes, small seconds at 3 o’clock
Skeleton date at 6 o’clock
Chronograph: 30-min timer at 9 o’clock, central chronograph seconds
Tachymeter scale on the flange
45 mm in diameter
BR-X1 Carbone Forgé®: carbone forgé®, grade 5 titanium and ceramic with rubber inserts
BR-X1 Titanium: grade 5 titanium and ceramic with rubber inserts
Ceramic rocker push-buttons with rubber inserts
Crown with rubber inserts
Back with opening in tinted sapphire crystal, centred on the balance
Water resistance: 100 m
Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Woven black rubber
BR-X1 Carbone Forgé ®: Black PVD* steel finish and black rubber insert
BR-X1 Titanium: steel and red rubber insert