On our journey to bring you watches with truly unique design and a character of their own, we present an absolute gem, the Bell & Ross BR 05 Grey Steel. Square case, monochrome design, integrated bracelet – while this combination might be divisive, we think there is a lot to unpack here, and we’re excited to share our thoughts with you!
Bell & Ross: The Brand
Bell & Ross was founded in 1992, by Bruno Belamich (Bell) and Carlos A. Rosillo (Ross). Initially, the watches were manufactured by Sinn, a German company. However, when Chanel obtained a minority stake in the company, the partnership with Sinn was terminated in 2002. Following this, Bell & Ross relocated its production to Switzerland. In 2005, the company started manufacturing square-shaped watches resembling cockpit instruments, beginning with the BR-01 model.
Now, let’s tackle an important question at the beginning of the review. There is a chance you’ve experienced a slight “dislike” towards the Bell & Ross brand when reading forums. We looked into the top reasons why some people aren’t big Bell & Ross fans and wanted to bring it all to the discussion table.
Is Bell & Ross a Good Brand?
Complaint #1: “Too expensive for the movement”
The most frequently recurring complaint is related to the price of the watches, considering they don’t have in-house movement.
While the watch movement is one of the most important factors when it comes to picking our next addition to the collection, it is not the only factor. Overall quality plays a part, and more importantly – in our opinion – the design of the timepiece. Let’s face it, watches are functional pieces of art. The aesthetic value, the artistic uniqueness is what we fall in love with. The design is the main factor we consider when picking out a watch for a certain occasion. Pretending that an original design doesn’t have monetary value is something we’ll never do at The Watch Resource.
Complaint #2: “The new kid on the block”
Bell & Ross as a brand is relatively new. The company was founded in 1992, and compared to some other brands with similar price points, some might say Bell & Ross doesn’t yet have the brand heritage. While we love and appreciate history and heritage, we also love to support brands that prove themselves worthy (for over three decades), not to mention that without support, none of the legacy brands would have reached “heritage brand” status. Again, time in itself is of little value when determining the worthiness of a product, or its place as an important player in the industry.
Bell & Ross BR 05 Grey Steel: Overview
The Bell & Ross BR 05 Grey Steel (BR05A-GR-ST/SST) is a timepiece that can be recognized from a distance, and that is hard to achieve by sticking with tasteful design features. While integrated bracelets are not the most popular solutions among watch collectors, it is an integral part of the BR 05. To quote Bruno Belamich, Bell & Ross’ co-founder and creative director: “This integration of case and bracelet is not only in line with the brand’s visual identity, it also brings another dimension to the watch: the first link forms part of the case. This type of design harks back to the Seventies, and when transposed to Bell & Ross, it creates a result with a graphic style which is both striking and modern.”
At first glance, this is a very masculine watch due to its angular design and the satin-finished surfaces that are perfectly flat. The case width is 40 mm, which is a perfect size for a statement piece. After further inspection, we can see how this timepiece has perfectly calculated details that all work together to create a remarkable watch that could rest on your wrist in the most natural way.
The dial of the BR 05 is simple, yet not underwhelming. The gray sunray dial plays harmoniously with the satin-polished stainless steel case to counterbalance the overall look (fully polished stainless steel case and/or bracelet can easily look “flashy”, drawing all the attention away from the dial).
We have Arabic numerals for the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions. The numbers themselves are curved to neutralize the watch’s overall angular look. Numerals and indices coated in Super-LumiNova®, and the date window is at the 3 o’clock position to keep the visual balance of the dial. The Baton hands are a great pick for this watch, as the long straight lines are needed for the overall design, however, the slightly rounded ends of the minute and hour hands represent the balance between angles and curves that is needed for design stability.
The case is satin-finished stainless steel and the surfaces are perfectly flat. The width of the case is 40 mm, therefore making it a comfortable wear for most wrist sizes. The interesting twist is that the bevels (the sloping surfaces) on the case are actually polished, therefore these areas are brighter, glossier, giving the timepiece a more elegant look and feel, counterbalancing the overall sporty design. The sapphire crystal provides good scratch resistance, and the screw-down crown well complements the 100 meters water resistance.
All four corners of the bezel have decorative flat head screws where their slotted drive is positioned symmetrically, focusing towards the middle of the dial.
The screw-down crown has the Bell & Ross brand’s “&” symbol, and the crown guards have similar screws, however, they’re not aligned symmetrically, providing a more natural look which is needed for areas we actually use and interact with.
Additionally, the sapphire case-back with a 360° oscillating weight provides a great view of the movement. There are four screws in the corners as well, however, they’re aligned perfectly here, giving priority to the functionality versus looks.
The Bell & Ross BR05 Grey Steel has an automatic Swiss movement, the BR-CAL.321. This 25-jewel movement is based on the Sellita SW300-1 movement (which is a competitor of the ETA 2892-A2). It provides 38 hours of power reserve.
Stainless Steel Bracelet
The BR05 comes with an integrated bracelet, which is usually not the most popular, as it is a bit more challenging to outfit with different straps. While that’s true, the integrated bracelet is part of the overall design and we appreciate the artistic vision: the bracelet is not simply attached to the case, rather part of it, subtly announcing that the watch is not just about the case itself (and what’s in it), but how it wears and feels when on the wrist.
The alternating brushed and polished surfaces are also found on the remarkably flexible steel bracelet that fits seamlessly.
Pros and Cons
Let’s take a look at the summary of pros and cons, in our humble opinion:
- The 40 mm case width is perfect for all wrist sizes.
- Unmistakable look, a truly unique design.
- Elegant – this watch is an appropriate wear for almost all occasions.
- Simple dial, yet not underwhelming.
- Classy monochrome look.
- Integrated bracelet limits strap and bracelet options
- 100 meters water resistance – sufficient, but not overly impressive.
Summary: Takeaway and Final Thoughts About Bell & Ross BR 05 Grey Steel
The Bell & Ross BR 05 Grey Steel (BR05A-GR-ST/SST) is a character of its own that delivers a modern and unique, yet timeless design. The 40 mm case width, the monochrome design, the combination of brushed and polished stainless steel make this watch a perfect choice as an everyday go-to timepiece that can perform well in more formal situations as well. The automatic movement (BR.CAL.321. caliber) provides a 38-hour power reserve. This watch is a statement timepiece, and in our opinion, a distinguished addition to any watch collection.
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