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Review: Bell & Ross BR01 Laughing Skull White

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The Bell & Ross’ first BR01 Laughing Skull was received with great applause in many watch collecting quarters. The collection is now extended with the latest – the Laughing Skull in White.

Bell & Ross BR01 Laughing Skull White

The first Skull watch appeared in 2009 in the Bell & Ross BR01 catalog, and was followed two years later by the Tourbillon Skull. A variant in bronze was presented in 2015, and in 2016, The Burning Skull, with a more sculptured, three dimensional skull was released. The watch also featured an engraved case decorated with black lacquer, reminiscent of the ink used by tattoo artists.

This was followed up in 2018 with the first of the Laughing Skull series, featuring a simple, but clever mechanism which causes the mandible of the skull to move as one winds the watch – giving credence to the expression “laughing in the face of death”.

The jaws of the skull animates, and moves as one winds up the watch. Note: this image is of the 2018 Laughing Skull showing the extreme positions of the mandible.

We reviewed the 2018 Laughing Skull with Carlos Rosillo, CEO of Bell & Ross making the video introduction. Read that article here.

Symbolism and the skull

The skull symbol has been used for centuries, particularly by pirates. They consider it a talisman that brings them courage and frightens off their enemies.

The Airborne “Death from Above” Squad Badge.

It is also used by the military, as a constant reminder of their own vulnerability. These professionals often face death in the line of duty and this image appears on their uniforms and aircrafts.

The skull motif is used in many watch brands, from Corum to HYT to Belll & Ross, and seem to be a popular expression.

The case, dial and hands

The case remains the now iconic square shaped instrument case that Bell & Ross is famous for, and essentially the same as the one used in the 2018 Laughing Skull watch.

The dial also opening remains the same, following the shape of the skull. The form shaped bezel and the movement support made in the form of an X ending in 4 screws. This gives the impression of the iconic skull and bones of the Jolly Roger motif. The case top is finished in a matte surface with micro-blasted steel and stamped with a “Clou de Paris” design.

The hands are in the shape of swords, a larger one for the minutes and a shorter one for the hours and filled with black SuperLuminova. In the middle is a skull, now in white, looking much like real bone – a sort of ivory hue. Right in the center of the skull, is an aperture to show the balance wheel, looking like the skull has taken a bullet right in the forehead. The Bell & Ross logo is printed on the under side of the sapphire crystal and floats over the balance.

On the dial proper, a rather realistic looking skull is attached as an appliqué. This rises from the base such that it looks like it is floating in free space. The shape is 3 dimensional and stamped out of brass and painted with a matte ivory/bone coloured lacquer.Detailing such has painted shadings make the skull more realistic by creating shadow and depth.

The same moving jaw mechanism as in the 2018 Laughing Skull is fitted and the impression of the laughing skull is made even the more realistic with the ivory/bone coloured skull. The look is complete with a similarly hued strap in aligator.

The movement BR-CAL.206

The movement is a form movement, not in the shape of the square case, but in the shape of the skull. The movement is developed by Concepto for Bell & Ross, and as far as we know is exclusive.

The skull’s mandible is animated during winding. This mechanism is quite simple, and is secured to a superstructure in the form of an X, which is picked up as the stylized bones of the Jolly Roger. On the X superstructure, the animation mechanism is mounted.

The BR-CAL.206. Note the four attachment points which bolts the movement to the X superstructure.

Concluding thoughts

The animation of the skull, whose mandible follows the speed of winding of the crown as it is being wound, makes a rather amusing past time. The construction of the watch is very well conceived, and the finishing is rather good at this price point for a watch featuring a jacquemart automata.

The entire package of the ivory coloured skull, and ivory strap works well with the scheme of the skull and bones, and very much a cohesive design, attesting to the high skill level of the Bell & Ross designers.

To order, visit the Bell & Ross site for BR01 Laughing Skull.

Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull White Specifications

Ref. BR01-SKULL-0-SK-ST

Case: Diameter: 46mm
Height: 13.5mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: BR-CAL.206
Functions: Hours, minutes, and skull automaton
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Ivory alligator leather

Limited edition: 99 pieces
Price: CHF 10,890/ Euros 8900/ SGD 14,900

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