Bell and Ross unveils the new BR-X1 Military. Based on the X1 Chronograph series, it is built on their signature square case, and designed to mimic stealth fighter planes. With a skeletonized sapphire glass dial, and a matte khaki high resistance titanium case. Here is our hands-on review.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Military
Bell & Ross has a certain je ne sais quoi about it. On paper, the design aspects may seem to be rather unusual at best, and some may even call it inconsistent with the general aesthetics of how a watch should be. Take the now iconic square case. Seems to be the wrong shape. But here, Bell & Ross make it work. And not only does it work in one genre of watches, but it works in many diverse applications. From Diver Watches, to sporty automobile watches, and here in military guise. Somehow the aesthetics work, and the watch feels sincere. Genuine. And attractive. Kudos to the Bell & Ross design team. Good eye.
The Case, Dial and Hands
The initial appearance of the watch is one which exudes quality. It should, this is a chronograph which retails for a somewhat hefty S$ 31,500/ CHF 22,330/ USD 23,000. The case has matte finish which is nice to the touch.
Visually, the tinted sapphire glass dial intrigues. Allowing a peek-a-boo feel as one can almost make out the components of the skeletonized movement below, but not quite.
As mentioned, the case is the signature Bell & Ross square. The case is lightweight and is titanium. A material which Bell & Ross calls High Resistance Titanium. The material is the result of a new process which alters the titanium, making it more hard wearing and giving it the signature khaki hue. It appears to be a very light brownish (khaki) tinge in sun light and a very dark grey in artificial light. The case is matte finished and non-reflective, a design goal as this is intended to be a stealthy watch for military applications.
The case sides have a cladding which extend into pushers, give the BR-X1 Military an armoured look which is rather sophisticated.
The chronograph pushers are integrated into the case sides, and look very sleek and coherent with the entire design. Shown above, the pushers are topped with rubber like pieces to improve grip which is embossed with symbols which tell the user that one is start and stop, and the other reset. The crown itself is embossed with Ampersand BR logo.
The dial itself is a tinted sapphire glass, and looks very beautiful. The entire dial gives the impression of depth, as the eye perceives the different levels of the rehaut, the appliqué markers, the hands and the subdials and then deep into the dial – a glimpse of the movement. The upper bridge of the movement is visible, and is shaped like an X. It is constructed in in a hardened black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating.
The rehaut is marked with the tachymeter, and a flange ring at the outermost of the dial is marked with the seconds. The hour markers are faceted with polished sides and are appliqué, and filled with C3 Superluminova.
The hands are faceted and also filled with Superluminova. The hour and minute hands are centrally mounted and a small second hand is positioned at 3. At 6 is a small aperture for the date. And the minute counter is an ultra-light aluminium disc resembling the blades of a turbine as a sub-dial at 9. The minute counter is continuously moving when the chronograph is running.
Legibility under both light and dark conditions are excellent. The dial, hands are clearly laid out, and intuitive. However, a small criticism is that the chronograph cannot be read in the dark.
The overall feel of the case, dial and hands is one of a quiet, effortless luxury.
The movement is the BR-CAL.313, which is based on the ETA 2894-2. It is used by Bell & Ross in the X series watches, like the BR-X1
The movement is automatic, with a power reserve of 42 hours running at 28,800 bph. It features a chronograph module from Dubuis-Depraz, with a date.
From the case back, a small aperture allows a peek into the movement, but the view is somewhat superimposed by the Ampersand logo engraved on the sapphire glass.
Wearing the watch
We wore the watch in various activities. With a suit for formal events, to business casual for day to day office use, to sporty efforts like bicycling and swimming. The BR-x1 Military is rated to a water resistant depth of 100m and can be safely used a sports watch.
The watch is rather large, as the case is a 45mm square. But the lugs are rather steep and the case sits low on the wrist, making it wear smaller than the dimensions suggest. The feel on the wrist is rather comfortable, and is quite light. But it has a certain heft which belies that it is a titanium case, if that makes sense. It does not have the very light, flimsy, floaty feel of some titanium cased watch.
As mentioned, legibility is excellent, and the chronograph is intuitive to use. The chronograph functions well, and the pusher feel for start/stop and reset are light but with good positive feedback. We observe a minimal jump in the chronograph seconds hand on start, but this is normal, and not unusual.
We particularly like the way the polished facets of the indices interact with incident light. Almost seeming to flicker and flirt with the light on each movement of the wrist.
We think the overall package of the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Military is rather pleasing, both in the aesthetics as well as operationally. The watch looks effortlessly luxurious, but still fit for its purpose as a military styled daily use/tool like watch.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Military Technical specifications
Movement: calibre BR-CAL.313. Automatic mechanical. ‘X’-shaped upper bridge. 56 jewels, 28,800 vph. Skeleton
Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds at 3 o’clock.Skeletonized date at 6 o’clock. Chronograph: 30-min timer
at 9 o’clock, central chronograph seconds. Water-resistance: 100 metres.
Case: 45 mm in diameter. HRT (khaki High-Resistance Titanium) and black ceramic with rubber inserts. Rocker push-buttons. Case-back with opening in tinted sapphire crystal, centred on the balance.
Strap: perforated black rubber.
Dial: skeletonized. Metal applique Superluminova® C3-filled indices. Metal skeletonized Superluminova® C3-filled hour and minute hands.
Buckle: pin. Black PVD coated steel.
Retail price: S$ 31,500/ CHF 22,330/ USD 23,000.