New: Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire for Only Watch 2021

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Bell & Ross offers a new all sapphire Cyber Skull BR 01 for Only Watch 2021. One of the more interesting watches pitched for this iconic annual charity auction.

Press Release information with commentary in italics.


The base watch is the Laughing Skull with the automata on basic caliber to enable the mandible of the skull to animate during hand winding of the watch. This watch was first introduced in 2018, and we covered it in detail in this article: Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull including a video interview of Carlos Rossi explaining the concept and execution.

The Laughing Skull itself is an expansion of the skull theme which Bell & Ross has been fascinated with since the introduction of the BR 01 Skull in 2009.

The Only Watch Edition adds a level of complexity to the base Laughing Skull, by the implementation of a completely sapphire glass case as well as the skull. This creates an interesting aesthetic, with the clear, see-through sapphire glass case, and the skull in orange. The visual impact is stunning. Playful and yet serious in its message of morality and identifies well with the beneficiary of the Only Watch charity auction. This launch model was followed in 2011 by the Tourbillon Skull, and the Burning Skull. Till the 2018 Laughing Skull, the earlier Skulls did not feature any automata. The Laughing Skull with its moving mandlble automata came next, with various interpretations, including a particularly interesting Laughing Skull White, with a realistic aesthetic which makes the skull look like a boney mass. The Cyber Skull was next in 2020.

For its 9th edition, the biennial auction of unique timepieces sold for the benefit of research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will take place on Saturday 6 November 2021, in Geneva.

Christie’s remains the auctioneer of choice under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. Among the watch manufacturers, Bell & Ross supports the Only Watch project and its incredible fundraising efforts in the fight against this disease. The Brand’s contribution takes the form of an exclusive one-off version of its recent BR 01 Cyber Skull model: the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire for Only Watch 2021.

Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire for Only Watch 2021

The skull, an accepted sign of death, has a philosophical meaning as it symbolizes the fragility and brevity of life, particularly in vanitas works of art. Memento mori recall gruesome depictions in ancient paintings or in curiosity cabinets owned by humanists from the Enlightenment.

Bell & Ross had indeed developed a lasting tradition of horology pieces inspired by this thematic.

Sapphire glass

Bell & Ross chose sapphire to create this bespoke BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Only Watch 2021 version, a high-quality material made of corundum, an oxide of alumina (Al2O3) that has taken millions of years to occur in nature. Bell & Ross worked on clear luster and elegant transparency to their fullest potential.

The precious timepiece is conceived in its entirety with sapphire, for both the case and decoration. The sapphire case is machined from three blocks of sapphire. The Skull dial from six blocks. Compounded by the brute force of the material, the aesthetic force of the timepiece merges technologies together. Machined by grinding using diamond powder meant the facets could be resurfaced, in the same way jewelers cut a precious stone

The exclusive BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Only Watch 2021 fits in perfectly with this style. It is characterized by the stylized and angular treatment of the skull on its dial. Each element of the watch, the case, crown, skull, crossbones, is structured within the many faces that sculpt the surfaces, creating volumes and a 3D image.

Emphasized by its sharp edges, its many facets offer a fascinating play on the multiplication of perspectives, between flat and smooth surfaces. Futuristic origami? Memento mori 2.0? New cameo by a cyborg? The BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Only Watch 2021 produces a multifaceted approach. The geometric shapes of the timepiece create a pixilation effect. This phenomenon appears when the points of an image become clear. The angular representation of the skull and the femur bones on the dial are inspired by this.

For this bespoke version of the Cyber Skull, Bell & Ross used the orange color to provide its owner with a unique piece for its wrist. Made of transparent sapphire, the Skull dial was metallized on the back that has a smooth side to give this orange effect. Orange is the ultimate color for aeronautical instrumentation due to its high level of legibility and capacity to make essential information stand out from contrast. It is also the emblematic color code of Only Watch, which is used on its logo. The back of the watch also features a special engraving for Only Watch.

Behind its provocative, symbolic, and artistic face, the BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Only Watch 2021hides the secrets of an automaton watch belonging to the world of Haute Horlogerie.

The movement: Automata on base caliber: the BR-CAL.206

To create it, Bell & Ross developed the BR-CAL.206: a caliber entirely designed by the manufacture. While the mobiles were mounting on 21 jewels, the balance benefits from an Inca bloc type shock-absorbing system. The brand also worked on the skeletonization of the main plate and bridges to reveal the essential. The finishes are highly sophisticated: rhodium-plated movement, polished chamfers, velvet sanded hollows, handdrawn strokes decorations.

The movement is a form movement, not in the shape of the square case, but in the shape of the skull. Though Bell & Ross claims to have designed the movement, we know it is developed by Concepto for Bell & Ross, and as far as we know is exclusive. This same movement is also used in the other BR 01 Skull watches.

Only perfect mastery of the operation of a mechanical movement could, in reality, conceal the BR-CAL 206 hand-wound movement under the faceted decoration. The main plate closely follows the shape of the skull, while extending up to the four corners of the case, underneath the femurs. The whole was fixed on the case. An architecture like this makes the skull appear to float weightlessly inside the case. An impression which is enhanced by the total transparency of the dial, highlighted solely by 12 baton-shaped engraved under the crystal. The complete clarity of the watch reveals the key to the mystery through the Skull.

In addition, there is a surprise that will make you laugh. The automaton movement activates the jaw which opens and appears to snigger when winding-up the spring. Behind the mandible hides the barrel that you will discover when the skull grins back at you! Making up the brain of this skull – which has finally come to life – the anthracite balance wheel reveals its oscillations. The beating of the same, serves as a reminder of the watch’s mechanical heart.

BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire for Only Watch 2021 specifications

Movement: calibre BR-CAL.209. Manufacture hand-wound mechanical. Skeleton main plate and bridges, rhodium plated.
21 jewels. 28,800 vph. Incabloc antichoc system. 48 hours power-reserve.
Crystal: engraved anti-reflective sapphire with logo and 12 indices.
Functions: hours and minutes. Moving skull when wound by hand.
Water-resistance: 30 metres.
Case: length 43.30 mm, width 45 mm. Full sapphire. Faceted grade 5 titanium crown. Sapphire case-back.
Strap: translucent rubber.
Dial: skeleton. Faceted sapphire skull tinted in orange. Balance wheel at 12 o’clock. Rhodium plated skeleton Super-LumiNova®-filled hour and minute hands.
Buckle: pin. Satin-polished steel.


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