Bell & Ross advances their high visibility LUM design concept with the new Vintage BR V2-94 FULL LUM, their first in this iconic case design. We took the watch for a week’s spin, and give you our hands-on review.
This the first Vintage model with the LUM concept applied, even though Bell & Ross have been exploring the LUM concept for a while. This new BR V2-94 FULL LUM was released together with the other announcements made by watch manufacturers in conjunction with Watches and Wonders 2021, though Bell & Ross is not a participant in the show.
The design goal of the collection is to be able to boast optimal legibility in the dark as well as in the light.
Review: NEW Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 FULL LUM
Retail price: SGD 7000 (inclusive of GST) / USD 5100/ € 4700. Limited edition of 250 pieces only.
While the “LUM” in their name means light and relates to one of the fundamental qualities of Bell & Ross watches – which are celebrated for their unfaltering legibility day and night; the suffix “FULL” refers to the fully photoluminescent dial coated in Super-LumiNova®.
The case, dial and hands
The case retains the very classic shape of the BR V2-94 Vintage series watches. This case shape and raised box sapphire crystal has been successful in many of the iconic chronographs from Bell & Ross, like the Vintage BR V2-94 Bellytanker, the BR V2-94 GARDE-CÔTES and the BR V2-94 Military Beige models, amongst others. The case is elegantly shaped with smooth and sensuous lines sweeping to the rather short lugs. The crown and pushers are screw down type, offering the watch 100m of water resistance. A fixed black bezel in anodized aluminum is marked in Arabic numerals for the 10s and bars for the odd 5 minute intervals surround the dial. The top is marked with an inverted triangle. The markers on the bezel is not covered in SuperLuminova.
As a bi-compax style layout, the overall legibility is clear A small date aperture, cut out as a circle at about 4:30 on the dial, shows the date. The hour hand is rhomboid in shape, and the minute hand is shaped like a pointed pencil. Both have a black outline with yellow infill. The chronograph seconds hand is needle shaped, with the tip in yellow, and the counter balance looking like a the shape made by a Delta winged aircraft.
In good light, the BR V2-94 FULL LUM dial takes on a pastel like pale blue colour, with the sub-dials in a lighter shade, almost white hue. The dial layout is a lesson in simplicity on itself. Clear and legible. The markers are lozenge shaped, and is in a bold black outline with yellow SuperLuminova in-filling. The hour markers for 12 and 6 are in Arabic numerals, also with the same bold black outline with yellow infill.
In the dark, the V2-94 FULL LUM takes on an entirely new persona.
With FULL LUM in its name, the lume of the watch must be special. And it does not disappoint. To showcase the dial, BR has chosen to use three colours of SuperLuminova. A C5 pigment which looks like a pale green in light, but glows bright green in the dark coats the metal dial completely. The metal applique skeletonized numerals, indices, hands, and counters are filled with pale yellow C3, while a blue/green C3 hue is provided for the chronograph minutes counter. This provides excellent legibility in the dark.
The box shaped sapphire crystal
The box shaped sapphire crystal evokes a very vintage feel to the watch, reminiscent of the box shaped plexiglass of the 1960s. But at certain angles, the curvature of the box distorts the view of the dial at the sides – note the date aperture is distorted from its round shape in the photograph below.
As a design house, Bell & Ross’s key expertise is in turning over beautiful, well proportioned watches. And it shows. The proportions of the case is near perfect. And the mild contrast between the yellow indices against the pale green dial is complementary. As there is little contrast between the colours, BR has chosen, wisely to outline the indices and the 12 and 6 Arabic markers in black, vastly increasing the readability, while retaining the beautiful face. And paired with a strap in a weave black rubber –also known as ‘tropic’, a fitting vintage touch to round up the watch’s pleasing aesthetics.
The movement used, the BR-CAL.301 is visible through the sapphire case back. This is an automatic modular chronograph that uses a base Sellita or ETA 2824, 2836 movement. The same movement is used in the all the other BR V2-94 chronographs as well as in the Tudor Heritage Chrono Bleu.
The movement features a dual register display, with a 30-min timer at 9 o’clock and a seconds subdial at 3 o’clock. Considering the entry price category of the V2-94 FULL LUM, the movement is a workhorse without the fanfare of finishing aesthetics or the prescribed more desirable column wheel.
The competitive landscape
In considering only glow in the dark, full lume dials, only a few competitors are to be found. Looking through our archives, we found only one possible candidate – the Citizen Fugu, but it is priced at a totally different market level, so perhaps is not a real competitor. Let us know in the comments if you know of other watches with full lume dials.
We are talking, of course, about the fully luminous dial of the Citizen Full Lume. This was seen in the first 1989 edition of the Fugu NY004 and in the 2018 first re-issued, and again in the NY011. The full lume dial on the NY0119 is promoted by Citizen to be three times brighter than the NY008 version, and is a limited edition of 2,000 pieces, with each piece carrying its own series number on the case-back. But without a side by side comparison to the BR V2-94 FULL LUM, it is difficult to tell which glows brighter. The Citizens are equipped with very basic mechanical movements which are largely unfinished and unembellished. They do not feature any complication of any kind, and no chronograph. However, they are priced at a very modest SGD 631.
At 41mm in case diameter, the BR V2-94 FULL LUM wears very nicely. This case size is the goldilocks of today, and is neither too big nor too small. Wear comfort, with the short lugs is good, even for smaller wrists, while remaining good for larger ones.
The aesthetics of the BR V2-94 FULL LUM is certainly one of its biggest assets. The watch is beautiful watch, make no mistake. Very pleasant to look at, with a calm, professional demeanor in good light, and turns into a glow monster in the dark. The fun element when dark cannot be over emphasized – it puts a smile every time the light dims, and the lume takes center stage.
Photographed at the Deployant Studio, Singapore. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC4/120 and HC2.8/80 with H26 extension tube. Two light setup with Canon EX580II and Profoto Compact 600 with Zoom Reflector.