The Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker goes to the Air Force

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The Bellytanker has a rather interesting history. Originally used as an external fuel tank for fighter jets, the Bellytanker had taken on a new role when Bill Burke used it to build a racecar. It is not just any ordinary racecar – it is a speed machine, used for testing at the Bonneville Salt Lake.

In 2017, Bell & Ross had recreated the Bellytanker racecar, to pay homage to the original speed machine. In addition, they had also launched two wristwatches for the Bellytanker collection: the V1-92 and V2-94 Chronograph. With its aviation roots, we think that it’d be appropriate to do a photoshoot with some cool aviation props. So, what have we done? Let’s find out!


The Vintage Bellytanker V1-92


We begin with the Vintage Bellytanker V1-92. The timepiece is a simple three-hand watch, with an additional date function. With its case dimension at 38.5mm, the V1-92 is perfect for someone who has a moderately sized wrist.


Taking a break with the V1-92, fitted with a green NATO strap. The watch is worn by a female here, and the 38.5mm fits her wrist nicely.


Time to take-off? Bellytaker Automatic for time check. Interestingly, the colour scheme of the watch matches the one on the A4 Skyhawk as well.


The self-winding timepiece has a rather rustic and vintage appearance, with its metallic copper dial that features a black minute track. The colour theme apparently mirrors the racecar: the copper is similar to the vehicle’s rims, while the black minute track is a reminiscence of the car’s nose. The classic appearance is further accentuated by a domed sapphire crystal.

Interestingly, this is a very versatile timepiece. It can probably be attributed to the simple and clean design. In the two pictures above, one can certainly see that the watch is fitted with two different straps – one on a green NATO strap, and the other on a green suede strap. Both of them works nicely on the watch, and it brings out a different characteristic of the timepiece. The former, especially, seems to be rather military-inspired. Quite cool, we must say.


The V1-92 with the instrument cluster.


On top of that, we found the watch extremely photogenic. It is also extremely pleasing to the eye. This can probably again be attributed to its simple looks, but we will also like to add that the contrast of the copper dial and the black minute track work rather well. In short, we found this watch rather brilliant – and we are definitely in love with it.


The Vintage Bellytanker V2-94 Chronograph


Next, we move on to the next piece in the collection: the Vintage Bellytanker V2-94 Chronograph.


Preparing for take-off, with the Hawker Hunter in the background.


As its name suggest, the watch features an additional function – the Chronograph. There are certainly a few stark differences between this watch, and the V1-92. One of the more obvious one will be the inclusion of two black sub-dials for the chronograph function, as well as a tachymeter scale on the bezel. Other than that, the watch still features the rustic metallic copper gilt dial, with a black minute track surrounding it.


Pre-flight checks!


To quote Top Gun: “I feel the need, the need for speed!”


The V2-94 is slightly larger than the V1-92, at 41mm. Despite the bigger case, the V2-94 is still a rather comfortable watch to wear on the wrist.


Just chillin’ with a missile. The Bellytanker Chronograph sitting pretty.


The Bellytanker V2-94 Chronograph hanging on the control yoke of the trigger. A practice we don’t recommend in the Air Force.


The V2-94 is a handsome timepiece as well. We have a soft spot for its classic aesthetics, and this timepiece just ticks all the right boxes. It is definitely more complicated than its counterpart, but Bell & Ross had managed to keep the V2-94 Chronograph with as little redundant detail as possible. It is still very clean and high legible.


Rounding it up!


Lume and afterburners!


No step? No problem! Note: Due to the lighting condition, the dial colour of both watches appear slightly different here.


The V1-92 and V2-94 are powered by BR-CAL.302 and BR-CAL.301 respectively. The former is based on the Sellita SW300-1, while the latter is derived from the ETA 2894-2. The two movements are reliable workhorses, with decent performance that matches its price point.

Both watches are limited edition pieces, with a production of just 500 examples for each model. The V1-92 is priced at S$3,700, while the V2-94 is priced at S$6,400 for the brown calfskin strap variant. The latter is also available in stainless steel bracelet, at S$6,900. For more information, please click on the official Bell & Ross Bellytanker microsite, as well as our review article for the collection.


Photography by Peter Chong. Art Direction by Chelsey Chen. Models: Robin Lim and Chelsey Chen. Watches by Bell & Ross. Location: Air Force Museum, Singapore.


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