Tuesday, September 29

Review: Bell & Ross BR 05 Skeleton Blue

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We covered the press release of the BR 05 Skeleton Blue earlier, and here is our hands-on review of the latest from Bell & Ross.

Bell & Ross BR 05 Skeleton Blue

The BR 05 Skeleton Blue is a line extension of the BR 05 collection launched last year.

Hands-on, Detailed Review of the Bell & Ross BR05 collection.

The watch remains exactly the same as the earlier releases, with the exception of the smoked blue sapphire glass dial. Our views on the overall look, the build quality and the wear impressions remain unchanged.

The case, dial and hands

The case and hands remain exactly the same as the BR 05 Skeleton released earlier, which is also a limited edition of 500 pieces. The same classic rounded square shape of the case is carried over, with the crown guard, and the integrated lugs flowing nicely into the bracelet.

The dial layout is also the same, with the minimalist dial appearing only as a trunkated, inverted cone stretching from the bezel, acting like a sloped rehaut. As is the floating bar indices which is attached cantilever style from this rehaut and the Bell & Ross logo printed on the underside of the sapphire glass.. The only difference from the earlier release is while the first Skeleton had a clear sapphire glass dial, this one has one which is smoked blue.

The movement, skeletonized in exactly the same way is visible through the non-existant dial, and allows a clear view through the blue tint of the glass. Compared to the earlier rendition with the clear glass, this somewhat shields the movement, and provides a kind of peek-a-boo effect. Perhaps it might be seen to increase the mystique of the watch, but the whole skeletonizd movement is still visible through the tinted glass.

The bracelet is also carried over, and looks rather beautiful with alternating satin finished and polished surfaces. It feels flexible and pliable enough to wrap nicely around the wrist. As mentioned in the earlier reviews, the bracelet is more complicated to get right than the other parts of this watch, with attention to the arc of the curve – ensuring all the components are aligned so that it can adapt to any wrist.

The distinctive trademark (not sure if its registered) of the Ampersand is embossed on the crown and the butterfly clasp of the bracelet.

The movement

The movement too remains unchanged, and is the BR-CAL.321, wound by a 360° oscillating weight, openworked to allow the movement to be admired in full.

The movement is sourced from Selitta SW300 with special finishes. The balance wheel and hair spring is “chronometer type”, according to the specifications sheet. The rotor is also reworked into a circular oscillating weight, and completely covers the movement but at the same time allows peeks to view it through the skeletonized design.

As is normal for BR watches, the movement is a standard issue, with little embellishments, and the focus of these watches are not the innovative or in-house movements, but in the design and the coherence of the aesthetics of the case, dial, hands and bracelet.

Competitive landscape

Certainly a tongue in cheek to suggest that the BR05 is occupying the same landscape as the vaunted Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A. This is no doubt a rubbish comparison, but for the fun of it, we take it on our stride.

Having the two watches side by side is interesting. There are many elements which we can see where the BR draws design cues from. The Nautilus was first launched in 1974, and has achieved considerable and exalted success around the world, and it would not be amiss to try to emulate. Both have blue dials – one a ruled horizontally and features a famous fade from a dark surround to a light center, while the other a smoked sapphire blue. Both dials have similar styled markers and hands. Both are roughly similar size, both with integrated bracelets, though the PP is non-removable while the BR has options for a rubber strap to be installed in its place. But then the comparison stops. Without going to the branding, the historical heritage of the Patek, one can easily see that the 5711 offers a fit and finish is leagues ahead, not even dreamed of by the BR team. And as soon as we even start to draw comparison of the movements used and its finishing, the conversation is over before it starts. But therein lies the 3X price premium.

Back to more serious comparisons, at its price class of about S$ 10k, the BR 05 Skeleton Blue has surprising few competitors, as few similarly offerings are offered with a skeletonized option, and fewer still come with a tinted sapphire glass. Even the Chopard Alpine Eagle is considerably more at S$17,2k, is not equipped with a skeleton version.

It appears that none feature a sapphire dial. But of course, the strongest competitor is its own sibling – the BR 05 Skeleton without the mesmerising blue glass dial, but offered at a slightly lower price of only S$9,600 in a limited edition of 500 pieces.

Bell & Ross BR 05 Skeleton.

We are not sure if all have been allocated and/or sold out, but unless one is really obsessed by the smoked blue dial, the regular Skeleton does the trick just as well.

Concluding thoughts

On the wrist, it wears the same as the regular BR 05, skeletonized or not. In terms of the aesthetics of the vestigial dial, the watch is quite different. It does not even look similar to its sibling – the plain Skeleton version. The blue glass certainly adds quite a bit of character to the watch, and its charms continue to grow.

For more information, please visit Bell & Ross pages for the BR 05 Skeleton Blue.

Photo notes: Photographed with Fujifilm GFX100 with the Fujinon GF 50mm F3.5, and GF 120mm F4 Macro with and without extension tubes.

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