Jekyll & Hyde, Bell & Ross, they both have a split personality, the only difference is Bell & Ross is aware of it whereas famously Messrs. Jekyll & Hyde were not. The new R.S. 20 Collection, freshly revealed in Paris, explores the more racy and speed-centric nature of the brand’s personality.
French brand Bell & Ross made its name in aviation tool watches. Its vintage collections were inspired by pieces dating all the way back to the First World War, while the ever-expanding BR series thoroughly covers the world of modern aviation. The B&R design boys spend their days staring at aircraft cockpit instrumentation both vintage and super modern. But while the sky is the limit, there is a limit to the number of aviation-inspired tool watches you can cunningly and creatively replicate onto a watch dial, no matter how graphic they may be, if you wish to remain fresh and unpredictable.
For this reason, B&R went in search of new universes in which to further its specialism in tool watch graphic design. It first got involved in producing racing chronographs in 2004. In 2016 the brand became the official partner of the Formula 1®, Renault F1® Team; a fitting match between a French watch brand and a French motor racing team. Since then B&R has been studying the world of motor racing with the same intensive (some would say geeky) focus that was previously reserved for the field of aviation. The R.S. family of watches is inspired by yellow and black single-seaters and this is the fifth annual collection in the motor racing series.
The R.S.20 Collection: 4 high-tech chronographs
The new offerings take visual guidance from the F1® car for the Renault 2020 team and the R.S.2027 concept car. Hinged strongly upon design and graphics, the new watches still stress the three B&R virtues of style, legibility, and functionality. Are they packed with the latest technological advances and high-tech materials used in the world of motor racing? That’s a yes. Here are the details of the 4 new watches:
BR V3-94 R.S.20
The entry-level model and possibly the most sensible of them all. A 43mm chronograph limited to 999 pieces. Made from satin-polished steel and powered by a BR. Cal 301 automatic movement, the watch has a bidirectional rotating bezel with a 60-minute scale used to measure short periods of time. The 12 numerals feature the same typography as used by the Renault F1® Team. The minute track is split into the small black and white checkered squares of the finish line flag. The yellow hands display the different functions of the chronograph. Water-resistant to 100 meters, the watch comes on a bracelet or a black/yellow calfskin strap. US$ $4,400 on a strap and US$4,700 on a bracelet.
BR 03-94 R.S.20
Featuring the signature B&R cushion dial, also known as a circle within a square, this 42mm chronograph is also limited to 999 pieces. The watch is made from a matt black ceramic scratchproof case. Emblazoned with the Renault team numerals, the chronograph functions are shown in yellow while the flange houses the tachymeter, divided into two zones, each with its own color. With a date window at 6 o’clock, the chronograph minute track rests on a rhodium-plated brass ring. US$6,500.
Moving up a grade, and increasing in size to 45mm, this model also boasts the ‘circle within a square’ B&R case. This skeletonized chronograph model comes in a limited edition of 250 pieces. Based on the BR 03-94, its case is made from a multi-material structure: PVD-coated titanium, ceramic and rubber, often employed in sports watchmaking, aeronautics, and Formula 1®. The two rocker paddles either side of the crown echo those of F1 race car gear paddles. US$ $21,500.
BR-x1 Tourbillon R.S.20
Last but most, the costliest (seriously costly) watch in the collection. Just 20 pieces have been produced. This model is crafted from titanium, a favorite F1 metal due to its strength and lightness. The fixed bezel houses the minute track, and the rotating ring features a “stop-start” indication. The flying tourbillon has a variable inertia balance. The BR-CAL.283 column-wheel hand-wound movement holds a barrel spring with 100 hours of power reserve. The chronograph function is driven by a mono-pusher that activates the column wheel and there’s a 30-minute instantaneous counter. All this but you don’t get the sporty Renault numerals. US$194,000
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