Bell & Ross and Dassault Aviation share the same passion for aviation, which guides them in their respective creations. In 2013, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Falcon business jet, Bell & Ross paid homage to the civil aviation of the 1960s by presenting the Vintage Falcon model.
This year, the two companies are joining forces once again to celebrate the most successful multi-role fighter aircraft on the market: the Rafale. With the BR 03-94 Rafale watch, Bell & Ross is honouring an exceptional aeroplane by creating a model that resembles it.
At the beginning of the Rafale programme in the mid-1980s, the French Air Force and Navy expressed the need to replace seven different types of fighter aircraft with a single multi-purpose model. The Rafale is the result of this streamlining initiative.
This high-tech fighter plane, which entered into operational service in 2004 in the Navy, and in 2006 in the Air Force, can indeed complete all the missions previously performed by different aircrafts: air defence and superiority, bombing, long-range air strikes, anti-ship warfare, reconnaissance, nuclear deterrence and aerial refuelling from fighter to fighter.
This is a “multi-role” aircraft, capable of performing various tasks during a single mission; for example, combining air strikes and air-to-air combat, or even long-range air-to-air missiles, during low altitude attacks. The Rafale is also “inter-operable”, meaning that it is able to fight as part of an allied coalition using common technical standards and procedures.
In terms of its shape, the Rafale is characterised by an aerodynamic design based on a delta wing with canards (small wings situated to the front of the fuselage), which gives it exceptional agility. Its cockpit is equipped with completely digital electric flight controls, which guarantee maximum safety and manoeuvrability, making it easier to pilot. Its attack and navigation system enables it to operate terrain following in automatic mode with no visibility, giving it “excellent survivability” in enemy airspace. Furthermore, thanks to the shape of its fuselage and the composite materials used, the Rafale has a weak radar signature.
Motorised by Safran, the Rafale is equipped with two Snecma M88-4 afterburner turbofans, each offering a thrust of 5 tonnes when dry, and 7.5 tonnes with afterburning. It can reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.8. Weighing just 10 tonnes when empty, its internal fuel tanks can contain up to 4.7 tonnes of kerosene. It has an external load capacity of up to 9.5 tonnes (14 hard points), which makes it the only fighter aircraft in the world capable of carrying almost 1.5 times its own empty weight.
Equipped with RBE2 active electronically scanned array radar designed by Thales, it can “look” anywhere. It can also carry out several missions, with very varied profiles simultaneously, which is why the aircraft is referred to as “multi-role.”
Three versions of the Rafale are available, all based on the same airframe and the same arms system: a single-seater (the Rafale C), a two-seater (the Rafale B) which operate from a land base, and a single-seater capable of taking off from an aircraft carrier (the Rafale M), which has a reinforced undercarriage and a tail hook. 90% of the components are common to the three aircraft. With its moderate size, extreme power, superb agility and high stealth, the Rafale benefits from all the expertise acquired by Dassault Aviation and the 500 companies participating in the programme.
In their search for the ideal practical watch and with their experience in the military and aviation fields, engineers, master watchmakers, designers and professional pilots have combined their skills to give rise to an original concept: the instrument watch.
As aeronautical instruments are the absolute benchmark in terms of legibility, reliability and performance, the BR 03 adopts the same fundamental design principles as a cockpit clock. A practical watch perfectly adapted to professional use, it is the perfect expression of the Bell & Ross philosophy, whereby function must define form. Similar to the Rafale, which was produced with innovative, high performance materials, the case of the BR 03-94 Rafale watch was designed using ceramic.
This material holds a privileged position in the aerospace sector, with uses including the manufacture of parts subject to high temperatures, exposure to acids, corrosion and erosion. It is also found in the design of heat shields and noses for rockets. Almost as tough as a diamond, ceramic is extremely hardwearing and has an unchanging colour as it is dyed in the mass. It is also lighter than steel, hypoallergenic and has thermal control properties, which increase the wearer’s comfort.
To create the ceramic BR 03-94, the Bell & Ross designers had to rethink the already complex structure of its case. Therefore, the BR 03-94 is built around its movement and its steel container, protected by a cover, top and back made of ceramic. The eight screws, which are visible from the outside of the ceramic case, are functional and fasten the entire watch like a clamp, ensuring that the case is perfectly solid and water resistant. The Bell & Ross designers also reworked the shapes and proportions of the watch.
The sophisticated case of the BR 03-94 Rafale houses a mechanical chronograph movement with automatic winding, which offers tried-and-tested reliability. As an essential tool in aerial navigation for measuring short time periods, the chronograph is the main complication of aviation.
By adopting the distinctive design features of this iconic fighter aircraft, the BR 03-94 Rafale asserts a strong identity from the very first glance. The stealthy matte black ceramic case is a reference to the anti-reflective tints of instrument panels in aeroplane cockpits.
Rafale’s characteristic colour adorns the dial: a monochrome camouflage grey. The typography of the numerals subtly recalls that of the registration numbers that feature on the plane’s fuselage. The hands used for the chronograph functions are distinguished by orange tips (in aviation, this is the colour of essential features and test flights), which offer excellent legibility.
On the flange, the tachymeter scale enables speeds to be calculated, while the word “tachymeter” is also written in a bright orange. As a final finishing detail, the auxiliary counter of the small seconds displays the distinctive silhouette of the fighter aircraft as a signature at 6 o’clock. The BR 03-94 watch is equipped with a black natural rubber strap.
As versatile as the aircraft whose name it proudly bears, the BR 03-94 Rafale can be worn during any daily activity, on the wrists of test pilots, fighter pilots and everyday men of action. This year, Bell & Ross is celebrating an exceptional fighter plane by presenting a chronograph that reflects its characteristics.
Shapes and colours that promote functionality, innovative and high-performance materials, an extremely legible dial and a highly accurate movement, the BR 03-94 Rafale is the amalgamation of two worlds revered by Bell & Ross: watchmaking and military aviation.
With a limited edition of just 500 pieces, the Bell and Ross BR 03-94 Rafale watch will be presented in Le Bourget, at the International Paris Air Show, which will take place in France from 15 to 21 June 2015.
Automatic mechanical Calibre BR-CAL.301
Hours, minutes, small seconds at 3 o’clock
Elapsed time chronograph: 30-min timer at 9 o’clock, central chronograph seconds
Tachymeter scale on the flange
42 mm in diameter
Matt black ceramic
Water resistance: 100 m
Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Superluminova® filled numerals, indices and hour and minute hands
Buckle: pin. Black PVD coated steel
Limited edition of 500 pieces