The collaboration between Bell & Ross and the Renault F1 team – since 3 years ago – had brought us some rather fantastic watches with the motorsports theme.
Last year, we reviewed and waxed lyrical about the R.S.18 – for its great looks and comfortable ergonomics. That has set a high benchmark for the future collections, which includes this year’s novelty.
This year, Renault had launched 3 different editions of the R.S.19. We have taken a look at both the signature square case models (BR03-94 and BR-X1) last year, and hence we decide to pick up from the previous article and take a look at the round case variant (V3-94) this time. How does the new watch stacks up?
Bell & Ross BR V3-94 R.S.19: The Case, Dial, and Hands
The 43mm watch – whilst its not in the iconic square case that Bell & Ross is known for – still provide hints of the brand’s signature touches. Colours are used extensively here, and there are at least the use of 4 different colours that are present on the dial itself (yellow, green, red, and black). This is certainly not meant to be discreet – it is supposed to be bold and vibrant. Just like the Formula One race cars and its drivers.
The dial uses a similar carbon fibre case to emulate the materials used in the Formula 1 race cars, but that’s where the similarity ends when the R.S.19 is compared vis-à-vis with its predecessor. The previous edition features a twin-counter layout, while the R.S.19 is fitted with three sub-dials instead. The numerals (or indices) is also updated with an italicised font (filled with Super-Luminova) that is similar to the drivers’ line-up/starting numbers that are pasted on multiple locations of the race car itself.
The other notable change to the R.S.19 lies in its bezel. This year, Bell & Ross had decided to put the tachymeter scale on the chapter ring. This leaves them to place a bi-directional rotatable bezel with a 60 seconds (or minutes) scale insert, which acts as a countdown timer for the user. The operation of the rotatable bezel feels decent, and it is said to be optimised for users who are wearing gloves (presumably during racing) as well.
There are quite a lot of on-goings on the dial, but the colour contrast helps in terms of the watch’s legibility. This includes the date window that is placed at the 4:30 position. The whole set-up might be slightly cluttered, but it certainly does its time-telling job well enough.
The Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.301
The watch is powered by the BR-CAL.301, which is a movement based on the utilitarian ETA2892-4.
The self-winding movement has a power reserve of around 42 hours, and it comes with both the chronograph and date function. The movement can be viewed via the exhibition caseback, in which it features some form of industrial standard finishing. Nothing too fanciful, but fit for a watch with a price point of this level.
The Bell & Ross BR V3-94 R.S.19 is priced at S$6,400 (for the calfskin strap version; S$6,900 for the steel bracelet model), and it is limited to 999 pieces.
For a racing enthusiast, the R.S.19 offers collectors an interesting timepiece with a rather handsome aesthetic. It is unlike the traditional racing chronographs, as the R.S.19 is certainly loud and vibrant in its design cues. The addition touch of carbon fibre dial and carbon-effect calfskin strap certainly helps to accentuate the Formula 1 vibes as well.
The Chopard Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition is an option for someone who wants a watch with racing pedigree, but with a more subdued and classic design. This is drastically different from the Bell & Ross, but we reckon that the Chopard might be of more interest to the slightly mature crowd. The watch is priced at CHF 5,450 (approximately S$7,550), and it is limited to a production of 1,000 pieces.
The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition is an icon that makes a compelling alternative as well. Not only does the watch comes with its instantly recognisable square-shaped case, but the iconic Gulf livery adds the cherry to the top of the cake. This is for the old-school racing car fans, who will certainly remember the orange and blue colours that adorned cars such as the Ford GT40. TAG Heuer also produced the Carrera Calibre Heuer 01, with a special edition commemorating its partnership with Red Bull Racing. The Monaco is priced at US$5,900 (approximately S$7,984), while the Heuer 01 is priced at £4,600 (approximately S$7,888).
Finally, we have the Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Bellytanker Bronze. This is slightly different from the R.S.19, in terms of its looks and vibes. The watch was inspired by the classic Bellytankers (as suggested by its namesake), which was used for cars that are racing across salt flats. The bi-compax watch is cased in bronze, and it surely exudes a certain rustic charm of the yesteryear with its design cues. The watch is priced at S$7,800.
The Bell & Ross BR V3-94 R.S.19 is an interesting watch, and we are certainly fond of it. We do, however, agree that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is considering that it is rather vibrant and bold in its colour scheme, which is something that not every collectors might agree with.
On a whole, the R.S.19 offers racing fans (especially supporters of the Renault F1 team) a rather compelling timepiece to own. It has a great design, coupled with a reliable movement and comfortable ergonomics. This is also an improvement from its predecessor (the R.S.18), which is by no means a brilliant watch too. We can say that Bell & Ross had done a wonderful job with this piece, and we are certainly excited as to what the future might bring for this watch manufacturer. For more visit the Bell & Ross RS site.