In 2009, Bell & Ross launched its BR 01 SKULL, which dared to shake up traditional watchmaking codes. This year, B&R is unveiling the BR 01 CYBER SKULL, which revisits the art of the skull watch. Avant-garde and sculpted, the Bell & Ross BR 01 CYBER SKULL reinvents the style of the skull watch.
At dawn on 6 June 1944, during the Normandy landings, paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st American Airborne Division emerged from the night wearing a badge on their jumpsuit that bore a skull and these words: Death from Above. The series of SKULL watches by Bell & Ross pays tribute to these experienced and outstandingly courageous military personnel.
The Bell & Ross SKULL family is approaching its tenth anniversary and has become an iconic collection with around ten of its creations all becoming collector’s items. Introduced in 2009, the BR 01 SKULL was one of the first to follow in the footsteps of this skull trend, with many manufactures later following suit. This first collection also included two versions set with 415 and 672 diamonds.
The BR 01 BURNING SKULL watch launched in 2016 combined military symbolism and the art of tattooing. Its case, engraved with sparks, was decorated with a black lacquer reminiscent of the ink used by tattoo artists. Unveiled in 2018, the BR 01 LAUGHING SKULL is fitted with one of the brand’s automaton movement. The jaw of the skull on its dial appeared to smile when activated.
Generally speaking, skull watches from the Bell & Ross SKULL family are rather traditional. The new BR 01 CYBER SKULL marks a break with style. Its avant-garde design sends this iconic series into the future. Not only that, the Bell & Ross brand as a whole has launched itself towards an ultra-modern shape. The futuristic CYBER SKULL opens a door to the future.
With its cut sides and sharp edges, the angular silhouette of the BR 01 CYBER SKULL is reminiscent of that of certain fighter planes described as invisible. Its case is modelled like the fuselage on an F117 fighter plane. To disappear from the radar and seem invisible, these bombers had faceted fuselages that waves would ricochet off. All their surfaces were faceted, making them almost undetectable to radars. This stealth technique is also used on the most sophisticated military ships, in order to conceal their visual identity as much as possible.
Bell & Ross has chosen to adorn its CYBER SKULL with black matte ceramic. This anti-reflective colour is also used on some military vehicles. Its glazed superstructure is reminiscent of the canopy on a jet. More than just a colour, the new black matte used on the watch gets its depth from a ceramic used to match its design. Its lines, structured like those of a fighter plane, pass under the radar and establish a new language.
In sharp contrast to classic watchmaking shapes that favour curves and roundness, the architecture of the new BR 01 CYBER SKULL exonerates it from traditional design and allows it to establish its creativity. All whilst respecting its military and aviation roots. Each element of the watch, the case middle, bezel, crown, skull, crossbones, is structured within the many faces that sculpt the surfaces, creating volumes and a 3D image.
BR 01 CYBER SKULL adopts a very futuristic, angular style. Indeed it may evoke a similarity to Japanese origami, the ancestral art of folding. The geometric shapes of the CYBER SKULL create a pixelation effect. This phenomenon appears when the points of an image become clear. The angular representation of the skull and the tibia bones on the dial are inspired by this.
The stunning lines of the sharp edges on the BR 01 CYBER SKULL also play with the light. Its crystal mirror dial and ceramic skull in the centre reflect the light. Trapped between two pieces of sapphire crystal, the screwed-down skull and crossbones and the animated jaw seem to levitate. A phenomenon amplified by the middle of the faceted case with no lugs, also made from black matte ceramic.
Inserted in the imposing volume of the case, the black rubber strap is stamped with «BR.
The watch conceals the BR-CAL 206 hand-wound movement under the faceted decoration. To make it invisible to the eye, the main plate closely follows the shape of the skull, while the bridges extend up to the four corners of the case, hidden by the tibias.
This makes the skull appear to float weightlessly inside the case. This impression is enhanced by the total transparency of the dial, highlighted solely by 12 baton-shaped indices. Only when the watch is turned over is the key to the mystery revealed through the sapphire crystal case-back.
In addition to the hour and minute indication, the automaton movement activates the jaw which opens and appears to snigger when the spring is wound. Making up the brain of this skull – which has finally come to life – the balance spring reveals its oscillations. The beating of the same, serves as a reminder of the watch’s mechanical heart.
Bell & Ross chose ceramic to create this BR 01 CYBER SKULL, a high-tech material that is solid yet lightweight, both for the case and the decoration. Compounded by the brute force of the material, the aesthetic force of the timepiece merges technologies together. Fired at an extremely high temperature, the ceramic acquires a density and resistance not dissimilar to black matte, a colour that cannot be achieved with traditional watchmaking materials. Grinding using diamond powder meant the facets could be resurfaced, in the same way jewellers cut a precious stone.
In order to maintain the purity of its design, the lugs have disappeared and the housing for the rubber strap has been cut out of the volume of the case, measuring 45 mm x 46.5 mm.
The CYBER SKULL is characterised by the stylised and angular treatment of the skull on its dial. The human body however, skeleton and skull included, do not have angles. They only have curves. However, the skull on the Bell & Ross timepiece swaps its natural curves for geometric and angular shapes.
Its case is inspired by the original BR 01 but its contours have been revised with sharp edges that give it an ultra-contemporary look. The CYBER SKULL also plays with light and transparency. In some ways, it is similar to the architecture of today.
Model: Bell and Ross BR 01 CYBER SKULL
Calibre BR-CAL.208 Hand-wound mechanical
Hours and minutes
Moving skull when wound by hand
Dimensions: 45 mm x 46.5 mm
Material: Matt black ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Water-resistance: 50 metres
Black ceramic skull
Metal skeleton Super- LumiNova®-filled hour and minute hands and indices
Balance at 12 o’clock
Black rubber strap with Pin buckle in Black PVD coated steel