Bell and Ross a Swiss watch company which is specialised in the manufacturing watches for professionals like pilots, divers, astronauts, and even bomb disposal experts, whose jobs -and in some cases, even lives – may depend on their watches.
Each Bell & Ross timepiece is designed and built with four basic principles in mind: readability, performance, precision, and water-resistance. Each watch is tested under varying conditions in various positions, monitored, and adjusted over a two week period until it is 0 to +10 seconds per day (for automatic watches) with a 40 hour reserve. Additionally, each watch is tested for its resistance to water, pressure, ultra violet radiation, heat, humidity, shock, magnetic fields, hostile chemicals, and substantial temperature variation.
The story of Bell & Ross began at the end of the 20th century. The French watch-making firm approached a German company specialized in the manufacture of aeronautical instruments. The rest is history. More than a simple project, Bell & Ross has a mission: to invent, design and manufacture exclusive and perfectly functional timepieces for professionals working under extreme conditions. This vocation places its creations in the purest Swiss military and watch-making tradition. It results in iconic timepieces and instruments that offer absolute performance and responding to the needs of the most demanding connoisseurs.
By coordinating the complementary talents of professional users (pilots, astronauts, bomb-disposal experts, etc.), master watchmakers, engineers and designers, Bell & Ross assembles all the skills required to design exceptional collections, without concessions or superfluous.
An emblem recognized and adopted by numerous elite fighting units, Bell & Ross is now the official supplier of:
– The Space lab mission (1994)
– The French civil security bomb-disposal unit (1997)
– The French National police intervention Group – RAiD (2005)
– The French Naval Aviation (2007)
– The French Air Force (2008)
– The National Gendarmerie intervention Group – GiGN (2011)
Bell & Ross’ reputation is built on the legibility, water-resistance, functionality and precision of its prestigious timepieces. They demonstrate unique watch-making expertise by satisfying the strictest military requirements.
In its la Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture in Switzerland, Bell & Ross perpetuates the Swiss art of luxury watchmaking that complies with age-old traditions. Bell & Ross’ timepieces are meticulously inspected at every stage of their creation and bear the mark “Swiss Made”, a symbol of unequalled excellence around the world.
Three Legendary Collections, One Unique Dial
The five types of cases, with their historical references and their clearly defined functionality, are divided into three collections. A constant theme running through the different cases, the dial of Bell & Ross watches offers optimal legibility
- Aviation: A very simple starting point: to turn a cockpit instrument panel clock, the absolute benchmark in terms of legibility and reliability, into a wristwatch. This iconic model, honored by numerous elite fighting units, gave rise to three instruments with complementary dimensions and functionalities: the BR 01 (46mm), the BR 03 (42mm) and the BR S (39mm).
- Vintage: The collection pays tribute to the military, and particularly aviators, who were the first professionals to consider the wristwatch a functional tool for their missions. These contemporary, round and traditional timepieces testify to three key periods in the history of watch design, from its origins to the 1960s.
- Marine: Bell & Ross created the Marine BR 02 collection in order to fully satisfy the reliability requirements of professional divers. Water-resistance to 1000m, optimal legibility, presence of a decompression valve and a unidirectional bezel make the BR 02 an outstanding professional instrument for deep-sea divers.
Watchmaking Innovation and Performance
Bell & Ross is now a leading company in the field of innovative watch-making. By combining professional label with Swiss high Watchmaking, Bell & Ross is constantly pushing the boundaries with its visionary design and with its complications tailored to the professional field.
- Hydromax 11100 m: The performance of this world-record winner for water resistance in 1998 is based on a major technical innovation: the complete filling of the case with a transparent liquid. This masterpiece with incomparable legibility is resistant to a pressure of 1110 bar – a depth of 11,100m.
- Vintage Heure Sautante: A classic traditional timepiece with jumping hour, this masterpiece of ingenuity incorporates a movement designed by Swiss master watchmaker Vincent Calabrese. It combines the complexity of a mechanical movement with the simplicity of a completely new reading system.
- BR 01 Red Radar: This non-conformist instrument offers a new and unique way of reading time inspired by the radars of air traffic control towers. Driven by boundless creativity and inventiveness, Bell & Ross’ master watchmakers have developed an ingenious system reproducing the red sweeping effect of a light beam on a radar screen. This concept is unprecedented in watchmaking and makes the BR 01 RED RADAR a Bell & Ross exclusive timepiece.
- BR 01 Tourbillon: Loyal to Bell & Ross’ design principles, this high-tech instrument features four additional large complications: a tourbillon, a Regulator, a power Reserve indicator and a pressure indicator. It incorporates all Bell & Ross watch-making expertise, expressed through exclusive performance, and is distinguished by the specific layout of its counters. The absolute reliability of this timepiece responds perfectly to aeronautical requirements in terms of legibility and precision.
When the Passion for Watchmaking Meets Military History
Bell & Ross has always been passionate about military history and values. To go even further in its quest for excellence, Bell & Ross has made aviation, especially aeronautical instruments, a main source of inspiration.
Many of its present collections pay tribute to the timekeepers that the military have used throughout history on land, sea or in the air, including First World War pocket watches, Second World War flight instruments with special functions and 1960s instrument panels.
Sharing the army’s values of performance and excellence, Bell & Ross regularly supports elite units by designing watches that perform particular functions or celebrate special occasions.
Professional Instruments for Extreme Professions
Some professions require absolute precision. When success depends on perfect timing and when every second counts, having a watch capable of meeting the highest and most rigorous standards becomes absolutely imperative. Reliability, performance and resistance are essential for these special timekeeping instruments. Military watches are the finest examples of the successful combination of readability and functionality.
Meeting the Strictest Specifications
The armed forces have always been the most demanding users of watches. They are the ones who, during the First World War, urged watchmakers to take watches out of their pockets and put them on their wrists, redefining them as a tool to help them accomplish their mission. During the Second World War they started asking for specific parts and complications with special functions, such as oversized crowns, notched bezels and the flyback device. The armed forces’ requirements and specific demands pushed manufacturers to go even further regarding reliability, accuracy and functionality.
Each parameter —case diameter, special functions, water resistance, day and night readability, luminous indexes, oversized numerals, precision, autonomy, shock and temperature resistance, anti-magnetic cases, rotating bezels— becomes a key factor when a military institution chooses a watch.
Special Watches for Elite Units
The professional instruments that Bell & Ross has designed for the Special Forces prove its ability to meet very specific needs. For example, the anti-magnetic case of the Type Démineur makes it safe to wear during mine-clearing operations. The Pilot Type Aéronavale, with its chronometer and notched bidirectional rotating bezel graduated for 60 minutes, is ideal for fighter pilots in flight. The luminous indexes and oversized numerals of the BR 03-92 GIGN, BR 01 RAID and BR 03 TORNADO echo the need for day and night readability, expressed by the GIGN, France’s Special Weapons and Tactics Force. With its multifunction movement, the BR 03 Type Aviation fulfills the requirements of French fighter pilots.
Bell & Ross, which has always blazed its trail in the light of military history, is proud to see members of the fighting forces and cutting-edge institutions wearing its watches today. Being chosen over the years by many air, land and naval forces is an incomparable recognition of the brands technical expertise and the quality of its watches, which are perfect for professional use. By reflecting the forward march of military watches through its different collections, and by serving the most prestigious army corps, Bell & Ross makes a contribution to history.
- VINTAGE – ECOLE DE GUERRE: At the request of the students from the French war school (institution for military higher education), Bell & Ross produces a special edition of the Vintage 123 Heritage proudly displaying the insignia of Ecole de Guerre.
- BR 03 TORNADO – ITALIAN AIR FORCE: At the occasion of the Tornado airplane 30th anniversary, Bell & Ross produces a limited edition of 50 pieces
- VINTAGE FALCON: Driven by their shared passions and values, Bell & Ross and Dassault Falcon associated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Falcon by creating two limited editions of 500 pieces each.
- BR 03 TYPE AVIATION – Armée de l’Air française: At the request of the French Air Force, Bell & Ross has created both an emblematic and functional watch that meets the specific requirements of Air Force fighter pilots: the INSTRUMENT BR 03 TYPE AVIATION.
- BR 01-92 RAID: On the occasion of RAID’s 20th birthday, Bell & Ross was chosen to design the commemorative and symbolic watch for this elite body of the French National Police Force.
- BR 03-92 GIGN: Produced in a limited edition of 200 units and engraved with a three-letter acronym or certification number of each recipient, the BR 03-92 GIGN instrument is exclusively available to members of the Gendarmerie Nationale’s elite unit.
- SPACE 1: Re-issue of the first automatic chronograph worn in space by the German astronaut Reinhart Fürrer during the Spacelab mission.
- TYPE DEMINEUR: Upon request from the French Civil Defence and according to operational specifications, Bell & Ross developed the Demineur Type. With an anti-magnetic and non-magnetic watchcase, this watch meets the requirements of bomb disposal operations thanks to its qualities of readability, reliability and precision
- TYPE AERONAVALE: At the pilots of the French Naval Air Force request, Bell & Ross is producing two limited series of 150 pieces of the Pilot chronograph specially designed for aerial navigation. Military aviation elite have chosen this watch to use as a tool and wear as its emblem.
The Military Know-How Geared To Civilian Life
Bell & Ross has always been passionate about aviation and its legacy. In 1963, a new jet, the Falcon, soared into aeronautical legend and revolutionized business flying. To celebrate the aircraft’s 50th anniversary, and commemorate a period of creativity and innovation, Bell & Ross designed two “Falcon” limited series with the same high standards as the professional instruments for military use. Two special versions in limited editions of 500 copies, the BR 123 automatic and BR 126 chronograph, pay tribute to the Falcon legend. A brown dial and brown leather wristband enhance their vintage look. They sport the plane’s outline, and the words «50 years of passion and innovation, Dassault-Falcon» appear on a sapphire background on the back of the case.
The Partner in Major Aeronautical Events
Present at the centennial of the SPA3 «Guynemer» of airbase 133 in Saint-Dizier, the 70th anniversary 3.3 Ardennes fighter squadron and the 30th anniversary of the Aeronautica Militare Tornado, Bell and Ross is also a partner of the Air Force Academy, Light Aviation School, Air Cadet School, Ailes Brisées (Broken Wings) organization, Le Bourget Air and Space Museum, and major aeronautical events, including the Le Bourget Air Show, Dubai Air Show and Ferté-Alais. Over the years, Bell & Ross has forged long-term partnerships and participated in many highly symbolic commemorative events. Bell & Ross is not only committed to aeronautical heritage and to sharing its values of excellence and authenticity; it is also a part of History.
Bell & Ross Head Quarters, Paris
After 13 years operating at rue Saint-Honoré, Bell & Ross opened its new HQ in 2011 in the 16th district of Paris at 8 rue Copernic. A town house of more than 1,000 m is now home to all of the brand’s departments, while still retaining its manufacturing operations in Switzerland. Consistent with the company’s maturation, Bell & Ross is continuing to pursue its international development strategy and assert its confidence in the future.
Constructed in a former residence, the workspaces are very much on a human scale, favouring comprehensive, quality exchanges among employees. Workspaces are distributed throughout the building’s six floors including the basement, and offer a pleasant well-lit, functional and adaptable working environment. In order to promote efficiency, complementary business functions are grouped together on each floor:
- The Creative Studio, where Bruno Belamich, brand designer and co-founder, oversees the creation of new watch models and supervises the brand’s visual communication.
- The Communications Department that includes press relations, advertising as well as the internet, with a unit dedicated to the Bell & Ross website and its e-Boutique.
- The Sales Department and Logistics Department, responsible for distribution and overseeing the shipping of watches to locations throughout the world.
- The Watchmaking Workshop, in charge of the after-sales service for Europe and watch quality control
Official website: www.bellross.com