What would happen when Bell & Ross have a love child with Blacktrack Motocycles? Enter the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Blacktrack.
We often see tie-ups between Motorcycle Manufacturers and Watch Brands. From Triumph with Breitling to Bulgari with Ducati. This time, Bell & Ross decided to tie up the Luxembourg based company that’s helmed and founded by designer Sacha Lakic.
Review: the new Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Blacktrack
The Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Blacktrack has a retail price of SGD 9,500. Prices are inclusive of GST.
First Impression/The Case
Just like the Blacktrack BT06 that this watch is meant to pair with, our Editor in Chief sent the watch to the writer with his black steed (talk about coincidence!). Once the watch is taken out of the pouch, the immediate thing that catches our attention is the chamfered edges that is a welcoming departure from the usual Bell and Ross watches. The Black Ceramic case certainly immediately oozes the sexy stealthy vibe that is similar to the bike which is in the same shade of black.
The pushers on the side of the 42MM case are designed to be large and accessible on the BR03-94. In this case (no pun intended), it is a welcoming move for motorcyclist to be able to engage the chronograph function while wearing their gloves.
On the back of the case, we are greeted with a close case back with an intricate engraving of the BT-06 along with the Blacktrack name which will constantly remind you that it is a jointly design watch with Bell and Ross. Should you be an owner of the Blacktrack or another dreamer who yearns for one of this amazing motorbike, the back of the watch will certainly always make you smile during a crazy work day!
Moving on to the dial, the vertical lines on the dial is a reminiscent of the openworks cooling grid on the BT06’s engine and the grooves on the special holder on the bike that is built to house the Bell and Ross watch. The red central second hand and the minute track in the chronograph sub-dial are reminiscent of the red details on the digital speedometer on the bike.
An easter egg on the dial is that the superposition of the off-centre chronograph second hand over the minute hand creates the Blacktrack “B”.
The counters on this chronograph adopt the very specific design of the dials on motorcycle handlebars. All these above are neat little details that will certainly compliment the BT06 reminding the wearer and ideally owner of the bike that the watch and bike are mutually complimenting in their design language.
With all the above being said, here’s the writer’s opinion on the dial. Certainly, the intriguing details that carries over from the bike is great but when it comes to seeing the watch in low lighting conditions…it is perhaps, a bit less than perfect. The indices and skeletonised hands are treated with Super-LumiNova® but the glow in a real life environment is a little light. During the one week review, the writer brought it to the “Naughty Corner” at 67 Pall Mall one night and attempting to tell time with the watch seems like an uphill task… (Or blame it on the writer’s poor bad eyesight? You decide.)
While Blacktrack BT-06 has a 1,200cc engine that propels the cafe racer, the BR 03-94 Blacktrack is powered by the BR-Cal 301 which is based off the ETA 2894-2. The “engine” of the watch beats at 28,800vph while having a “fuel tank” that last 42 hours. The BR-Cal 301 though is known to be resilient where it has withstood the test of time. The claim is attested by the watches in this series that precedes the Blacktrack. However, here’s a question. Why Bell & Ross did not base the new Blacktrack model on the newer BR 05 Chrono where it has a weekend proof power reserve? Of course this would increase the retail prices. This is one of this writer’s pet peeves. Though only you can decide if it is important to you.
The strap is a black motor-inspired calfskin strap is hemmed with a red edge and lined with high-resistance technical material. The calfskin strap is supple and soft where it reminds one of the beautiful seats on the cafe racer that we are very familiar with. We noticed that the hemmed red edge is reflected on the Blacktrack BT-06 cafe racer too; what a subtle but beautiful touch! A black PVD pin buckle is one that holds the calfskin together on the wrist of the wearer. It is noted that during the week on the wrist the pin buckle seems a bit cumbersome to be inserted into the hole of the strap due to the lightly bigger width.
Just like how we first started the article, motorcycle collaboration with watchmakers are certainly a popular tie-up in recent years. Perhaps they took a page out of F1’s love affair with the respective watch brands. Here are two contenders of the BR 03-94 Blacktrack.
The first watch that is contending is the already discontinued Tudor Fastrider Blackshield which was designed in collaboration with its then partner Ducati. The Italian superbike manufacturer then launched a one off Diavel Carbon model to coincide with the launch of the Tudor Fastrider Blackshield.
The Fastrider’s case is similar in size as the Bell & Ross along with a “Fuel Tank” that could go almost 10% more “distance” at 46 hours. It was then retailing at CHF 4,700 (SGD 7,093 as per the exchange rate at the time of publishing) based on GPHG’s website.
The second contender that is in the circuit to give the BR 03-94 Blacktrack a run for it’s money is the Breitling Top Time B01 Triumph. The Top Time B01 Triumph is designed in collaboration with British heritage motorcycle brand Triumph. Just like Blacktrack, Triumph known to build beautiful Cafe Racers. The Top Time Triumph’s ice-blue dial was precisely color matched to a Triumph Thunderbird 6T motorcycle from 1951 and a rare, blue-dialed Breitling Top Time watch from the 1970s.
Under the hood of the Breiting, it is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 that would only run dry after 70 hours and have achieved COSC certification. All for a tidy sum of SGD 11,200 inclusive of GST at the time of posting.
Bell & Ross have sent us two watches this time round, the other watch is the BR03-92 Tara Ocean (As shown above in the wristshot) which appealed to the writer more as it is very much more legible and suitable for daily use (in the writer’s humble opinion). Understandably, the BR03-92 is a whole different animal from the BR03-94.
Therefore, should we compare apple to apple, the Bell & Ross chronograph that we would strongly recommend is the BR 05 A523 Alpine. It has a weekend proof movement along with a very legible dial that has enough intricate details to mesmerise it’s wearer for a long time to come. It has since been more than 3 months since the writer wrote review of the BR 05 A523 Alpine and he have yet to forget how special that watch made him feel.