New and Reviewed: Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Ceramic

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Bell & Ross releases a new addition to their BR 03 collection, this time featuring what they call the Cyber design in ceramic. We got our hands on a sample for a week or so, and bring you this comprehensive review.

New and Reviewed: Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Ceramic

The Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Ceramic Ref. BR03-CYBER-CE has a retail price of SGD 18,800 with GST. Limited Edition of 500 pieces.

The case, dial and hands

The case is the iconic BR 03 case, but with a twist. Instead of a square slab with a round bezel, the case is now a two piece case executed in ceramic. Gone is the square slab. Gone is the round bezel. And in its place the bezel is an 8 sided number with sloping and faceted sides. Executed in a matte black ceramic, the watch looks very dark and brooding, with an attitude. With stealthy looks and a strong Blade Runner vibe. The BR 03 is a staple in the Bell & Ross lineup, and the challenge in front of Bruno Belamich, co-founder Creative Director of Bell & Ross (Mr. Bell, so to speak. Carlos Rosilo is Mr. Ross) was to create a new watch, with a modern faceted 3D look, while keeping the DNA of the BR 03.

And we having had the watch for the best part of a week, we are in agreement that Bruno did a good job with this re-interpretation of the classic BR 03. The dial is matte black and almost completely open worked. The dial elements are vestigial, and the movement, which is also skeletonised, is visible from the dial side. The visible bridges carry through with the faceting schema. The facets are rather fascinating as they reflect light in varying degrees, depending on the angle of the facets. Making for a 3 dimensional and almost lively image as one gazes on the dial. The crystal protecting the dial is also 8 sided and chamfered on the sides giving a box like appearance to the dial. All the while, the design maintains its straight, angular and faceted look.

Legibility in good light is average at best, given the dark on dark aesthetic of the dial. The hands as well as the movement elements visible from the dial side are all in a shade of grey. But the hour and minute hands are in-filled with strong luminous material. In good lighting, the grey SuperLuminova has the dark on dark monotonous look of the rest of the dial, but in the dark, it glows in a bright green/blue hue. As part of the minimalist styling that Bruno has chosen for the BR 03 Cyber Ceramic, the markers are not luminous, and so only the hands glow in low light. Readability is excellent, with the lume on the hands shining bright like light sabres.

According to Bell & Ross, the case is chosen to be black ceramic, and in a matte finish to present a watch which is at the same time discreet as it is spectacular. To make the 42mm x 43.7mm case, the ceramic form is ground by diamond powder, in a process similar to cutting the facets on a diamond. The lugs have disappeared, merging into the bezel and case middle. The rubber strap is inserted into a cutout in the case.

The movement: BR-CAL.383

The movement is the BR-CAL.383, which Bell & Ross claims is bespoke for them. The caliber was first presented in their submission to the ill fated Only Watch 2023 as the BR 03 Cyber Rainbow. The movement is automatic winding with black skeletonised main plate and bridges. The rotor is also in black.

The same Blade Runner vibes run through the case back view, with the dark, mysterious look being prevalent. Movement finishing is rather interesting as it is at a very high engineering level, but difficult to discern due to the dark on dark colour scheme and the matte finishing applied. During the week it was with us, it ran absolutely perfect, without discernible gain or loss in timing. Of course, a week is a rather short time to test a watch for precision and accuracy, but we are confident that this watch will run without issues over the long run.

Competitive landscape

The landscape which the BR 03 Cyber Ceramic occupies is the genre defined by ceramic cased watches with open work dials and skeletonised movements. The genre is not a very well populated one, and at SGD 18.8k, the Bell & Ross somewhat occupies the middle ground.

At the top, we have offerings from Audemars Piguet, whose Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openwork in Black Ceramic fits the criteria, though it has the additional complication of the double balance unique to AP. The AP comes in at close to SGD 144k, based on today’s retail price as shown on the AP site. AP does have a black ceramic Royal Oak with a standard single balance, but is not openworked nor skeletonised.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Limited Edition at about SGD 7k, or the DiaStar Original Skeleton at an even lower price of under SGD 3k.

Concluding thoughts

We enjoyed the week the BR 03 Cyber Ceramic was with us. This is a watch with a dual personality. On the one hand, it is the ultimate in discreetness – with its quiet dark tones on a matte white finish not calling attention to itself. And on the other hand, and in closer examination, it is has rather the showy peacock attributes of being openworked and skeletonised. The faceted crystal and the faceted movement bits also provide capable supporting fire to the show.

Overall, this is yet another interesting offering from Bell & Ross.

Bell & Ross BR 03 Cyber Ceramic Specifications

Movement: calibre BR-CAL.383 Manufacture. Automatic mechanical. Black skeletonised main plate and bridges. 25 jewels. 28,800 vph. 48-hour power reserve.

Functions: hours and minutes. Self-winding movement.

Case: 42 mm wide. Black ceramic. Sapphire case-back with black oscillating weight.

Dial: skeletonised. Facetted bridges. Balance at 6 o’clock. Black microblasted hour and minute hands filled with grey Super- LumiNova┬« (green glow).

Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating with logo at 12 o’clock. Metal indices with black gloss effect under the crystal.

Water-resistance: 50 metres.

Strap: black rubber.

Buckle: pin. Matt black PVD steel.