Home Watch Types Automatic Review – Bell & Ross BR 01-92

Review – Bell & Ross BR 01-92

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To quote David St. Hubbins, it’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever. Luckily – very luckily – Bell & Ross is far, far away from the stupid side of that line and has produced one of the most memorable and largest watches I’ve seen to date. Panerai, step aside, because you are in danger of being crushed by an aviator watch so big that it can be used as a desk clock.

I assure you Goose and Iceman didn’t have Bell & Ross dials in their jets, but they damn well could have. This beast is a fully lumed “mil spec” watch with sword hands that look like they could cut cans and still cut a tomato in half. While the “Wow” factor is immediately apparent, there is a comfort to gained in that the insides can hold up some scrutity. The BR 01-92 uses an ETA 2892 movement, a pretty standard movement found in just about everything – from Tissot to a low end Swatch. Luckily, the whole thing is encased in PVD coated steel and is as heavy as a mofo.

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This is a fashion watch. The beautiful, handmade strap is striking, but it probably shouldn’t hit the ocean’s depths – it can withstand 100 meters, but you don’t want to get this calfskin wet. The fit and finish are perfect and everything about this watch screams “designers staying up late.” The hands are painted pure white at the tips and then the lume abruptly cut off at the center and are almost invisible against the dark background. The entire case is held together with 1.3mm hex screws – folks, I encourage you to try to find a 1.3mm hex key. It’s nigh impossible.

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There’s even a screw on the back that says “Do Not Unscrew.” Wow. They put a screw on there that you’re not supposed to unscrew. Seriously. I was about to unscrew it, but I figured some sort of rare gas would shoot out or I would unleash the ghosts of WWII fighter pilots. Other than that, however, this watch is one of the most understated pieces I’ve seen – its purpose is clear, it is eminently legible, and it runs well. There’s even a hacking feature and the screw down crown is very smooth and easy to turn.

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I wore this in many social and traveling situations and found that it drew eyes like a road flare. Just whipping it out encouraged a mute wonder at the large size – 45mm – and unique shape – square as Sponge Bob. The Instrument Series, which includes a power reserve model and chronograph, will be an iconic grouping. It will usher in the era of the geek watch. While the staid and ancient Panerai can go all Dolce and Gabanna on us, this thing will bring the techies out of the woodwork as Hamiltons, B&R, and other uber-old school/new-school watches hit the streets. Mark, my friends, my words.

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Quality: 4/5
Style: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

List Price: $3827.00

– John Biggs

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37 COMMENTS

  1. I like this watch a lot, but I feel it’s seriously overpriced. I think it’s worth mentioning in your review that the Sinn models 656/756 are very similar in design and construction, and are available at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, they are even more understated because they are “reasonably” smaller (38.5mm, 40mm, respectively).

  2. Oh, and I forgot to mention the 856, which also follows a similar design. The 656/756/856 with black case and leather strap are $960, $1960, $1260, respectively.

  3. The Sinn models 656/756/856 seem quite different from the B&R mod. 01-92.

    The Steinhard model is, instead, quite the same thing…. apart from the details (finishes, wristband, care for details and so on…).

    I would say that Steinhard vs. B&R is a bit like Tudor vs. Rolex

    Somehow it looks like the “cheap version/copy” of the B&R.

    Of course we live in a free world so everyone is free to choose, but personally, if I can’t afford the original, by no means I’d go for the cheap companion…

    Giuseppe

  4. wow that is a strikingly styled and functional watch but way too expensive for me and too big this watch is sized for a 6 foot 7 football player not me .I am only five foot 8.5.

  5. Even since I saw it at TimeZone, I was smitten. However, it is horribly overpriced and shame that such a nice dial is wasted on an automatic movement. So easy to read and yet so lacking in accuracy.

    Hopefully the BR Instrument series will lead back to a trend of making seriously legible watches.

    Market Participant

  6. My impression of the Bell & Ross BR range was that they were very stiking, legible, well made, swiss timepieces. However, I did think the 46mm case size was too large for a square cased watch. I am pleased to hear that Bell and Ross have now released two 42mm models, the BR03-92 & BR03-94. In my opinion, this is a much better size and I am seriously considering a purchase.

  7. You guys do realize that Steinharts are pure knock-off garbage, right? I would be embarrassed to wear one. If you can’t afford the real thing, just buy a damn Casio or Seiko. I have much more respect for that.

    The BR01 is definitely too large. It looks comical. The BR03’s are much more reasonable in size but a 40mm would be even better since the square case really makes it look larger (compared to a round case).

    Price is definitely over the top but look at the entire industry in general. Outside of a few (like Sinn), EVERY brand is overpriced.

    I agree that if you want a high quality, functional mechanical watch, Sinn is the way to go. Plus Sinn’s 856/756 models have their Tegiment treatment which is simply fantastic. My 856 still looks new after a couple years of hard abuse. The BR’s in Carbon are going to look very beaten up if you put them into hard use since their just standard, soft SS which will start to show through the carbon finish.

  8. The Sinn 656 predates this and is a much better design, especially in pvd black. people won’t laugh at you for wearing a Sinn. It’s also a third of the price and just as well made. The 656 is also anti-magnetic, which I guess the BR isn’t, being a fashion watch.

  9. You guys need to seriously consider the Fortis Fleiger Automatic series and the Fortis Pilot Professional Series. Fortis watches are among the best in the “aviator” class and they are amazingly legible and well constructed swiss watches that can be had for less than $1000. In fact I bought my Fleiger automatic with white dial for $389 not 4 years ago. Prices seem stable since then with the automatic chronos going for between 700 and 1400. Fortis has some $3-4K watches as well, but it is amazing what you actually get from them for less than $1k.

    That being said, the B&R is something truly unique. It has no business in the $2500 range, but it is great to look at. The Sinn 656-756-856 line looks awesome as well. Their UTC version with the yellow GMT hand is a must have – and the price is reasonable.

    To bad B&R didn’t price their automatics in the $700 range where they belong – they would have sold ten times the number they are selling now and would not have lost business to Sinn and Fortis and (gasp) Steinhart.

  10. To be honest with you all, the purchasing of a watch for oneself is that of a very personal matter, not dissimilar to deciding what you ‘fancy’ to eat for dinner, what appeals to one man will not instictively appeal to the next. One man may well be prepared to splash out on the lobster thermidor purely becasue “he just fancies eating this”, whereas the other chap will settle for lasagne. Both are truly delectable dishes however what floats one mans boat doesn’t float anothers… In short we all buy the watches that appeal to us as individuals. I’m usually a more IWC and Jaeger watch man but I very much love the whole concept of what the BR03-92 Orange achieves.

  11. I don’t have that kind of $$$, so I got a Citizen Nighthawk BJ7005. It is also an ecodrive model, and AFAIK just as well constructed.

  12. Well, I have just right now a BR01-94 stainless steel, black dial on my wrist, got it yesterday, and obviously is massive but great finishing, and perfect in all conjunction. I´d prefeer another mechanism than the common ETA but works perfectly well.
    Of course attracs all the sights around, but admiration is what causes.
    I like it
    Antonio

  13. Dear Sir/ Mrs.

    My name is Jakob Barak I am a pilot and an electrical engineer from israel.
    I purchase a Tissot T Touch watch tow years ago, Mainly on because that my father was an pilot in the second world war and his Tissot watch not only passed the war is also work till today (from 1930). Obviously today Tissot are fare away from that.
    My first Tissot T Touch watch become out of order three months after I bought it , then thy fix it and it stop to function again after three months , And was spoiled again and again 4 times.
    For my completion thought that the exchange of the clock is implicit, but not in Tissot. For them it is reputed as favor, and after fight and many letters it was exchanged the watch to a new one, and I wish that it was end of the story. But in the new watch the amazing story repeated himself, And as of today the new watch was spoiled already three times. There is to point out that on Angelina Jolie in the movie of the watch look wonderful, But in my opinion it is not enough, and it also should work sometimes. The second time already I did checksin the internet forums and turn Out that it is not only my problem, and I have 5000 mail of people all over the word that have the same problem with Tissot watches. Ironic the representation in Israel gave service over the her buoy, but to know Tissot reparation on the sorrow and the time is identical watch or more inexpensive. ( it in an attempt that impossible to buy omega).
    The watch is built with functions to the pilots but with reliability of market in Thailand.

    Jekob barak

    [email protected]

  14. Thanks Barak for his review. very informative. I was about to invest in a T-Touch for it’s interesting features. My concern was on reliability. Now I know better. No point in getting a watch that work occationally.

  15. My son gave me a BR01-94 and it looks just like the clock I had in the SR-71 Aircraft that I flew between July 68 to Jun 74. All my friends will see the watch at the Blackbird Reunion in Reno this month and I know the watch will bring back great flying moments flying the SR-71. I am a very proud owner of one of the greatest watches I have ever owned.
    James H. Shelton, Jr Col. USAF Ret

  16. The Bell & Ross watches are definitely class timepieces and agree the BR 01 case was on the big side for a square case, for me anyway, i am glad the Bell & Ross BR 03 series have been released with the 42mm casing which is just right.
    I have seen these Bell & Ross watches on the ‘linked’ website at some reasonable prices although they are still expensive but in my opinion worth every penny!

  17. The Bell & Ross watches are definitely class timepieces and agree the BR 01 case was on the big side for a square case, for me anyway, i am glad the Bell & Ross BR 03 series have been released with the 42mm casing which is just right.
    I have seen these Bell & Ross watches on the ‘linked’ website at some reasonable prices although they are still expensive but in my opinion worth every penny!

  18. The demand for bell&ross watches is at the moment so high, that even here in switzerland it’s hard to get one.
    After beeing dissapointed by my Luminor from Panerai (poor quality, to many defects) I sold it and I’m now waiting for almost six weeks for a br 03 92.
    I do agree, that the cost of it is massive but you can be sure, that it’s worth! The quality is superb and soon B&R watches will be as atractive, as Panerai was before!
    Can’t wait to have it…

    Juan

  19. I just ordered the Invicta Corduba Chronograph with the carbon fiber dial.The style is very similar to the B&R 01-94.It is a quartz watch with a w.r.to 660 feet.When it gets here I`ll have a more informed opinion.

  20. Did anybody know, that Bell & Ross’s
    early beginings were at Sinn, in Germany
    Also the first B&R movements were from
    Sinn.
    I’d love a Bell and Ross, they are a bit overpriced
    for what they are. Don’t get me wrong they
    are lovely watches. They need to justify their
    price for the BR 01-95.
    The movement may be a adjusted and
    improved but, if as one of the people
    stated that it’s movement is that basic and
    found even as simple as Swatch watches.
    Would that put people off.
    I did me!
    I have a Omega and Audemars Piguet,
    the later purchased second hand.
    I would still love a B & R to my collection
    but which one??????

  21. Just be careful with the more complicated models. They are great-looking watches, no question, but I have had two BR01-94 chronographs in the last 2 months (Dec 09 and Jan 10) and both have been returned with the same fault: a chrono second hand that works loose and falls off its axis so that it hits the minute hand and eventually stops the watch mechanism altogether. I was very disappointed as I really liked the watch design. I have given up on them and gone back to Jaeger. More expensive, but the difference in quality is obvious.

  22. Nothing about this watch or many other, status watches, substantiates the ridiculous prices people are dumb enough to pay for them. What a bunch of nerds!

  23. @Mark Never, ever, rely on Invicta customer service. Great bang for the buck, but, like so many others, there are no Invicta factories; so good luck when you need service.

  24. Wow! Ridiculously expensive for a regular-looking watch and people are actually willing to buy it. Nothing special in the movement and even the body. I don’t understand why it would be this expensive. I would understand people paying 1,000 – 5,000 US$ for a Rolex, Omega, or Breitling but this?

  25. ETA movement may be found in everything. ETA is in 80% of swiss watches.

    What is important to consider is, which one did they put? I have a $490 Tissot LeLocle. ETA 2824-2. BUT this movement is also in watches that are over $1,000. This movement comes in 3 specs. The standard, a mid range and a chronometer top version. It depends which one they put in the Bell and Ross.

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