Diving with the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Blue
In 2017 Bell & Ross presented its first professional diver's watch with a square case and a product that is 100% coherent with its reputation as a manufacturer of professional tools that are used by the air force and the army alike. Could a brand that founded its fortune on the square box that took inspiration from an aircraft counter be a credible brand even when worn around the wrist of a professional diver? Yes, because this is not Bell & Ross's first attempt - those of you with a good memory will remember the 1997 Hydromax with its 11,000 meters rating and, more recently, the BR 02 that have now disappeared from the brand's catalogs.
The only diver's watch with a square case in the world
At the end of the 60s TAG Heuer launched the first water-resistant watch with a square case; the Monaco, but when it comes to diving, no brand has ever really experimented with shapes that are deeply different from the cylindrical ones and that says a lot about how difficult it is to craft a diver's when the shape of the case moves away from a cylindrical symmetry. Bell & Ross has gone even further by designing an ISO 6425 certified diver's watch on a 42mm square case and this is the big novelty that the Diver collection brought on to the market.
To demonstrate the characteristics of the Bell Ross BR 03-92 Diver Blue, the French brand organized diving sessions in different countries, allowing specialized journalists to try out the watch during a professional dive. The Italian session took place in Genoa in a training area located outside the harbor and under the guidance of professional instructors - a context and an experience that do fully justice to an instrument-tool that we photographed in 2017 in Basel and that was presented this year in an opaque blue livery.
The almost unknown ISO 6425 certification
It is always a good idea to clarify what the differences between a certified diver's watch and a standard scuba watch are. Provided that a professional diver's watch is no longer an indispensable tool as it used to be in the time when diving was still being experimented (in the late 60s), it is quite commendable to see how Bell & Ross made a big effort to give the highest authority within this category to the most famous square case in the world - the same case that features on those watches worn by the agents of special units like the GIGN and the RAID.
The diver's version, and this could also be seen on the first version launched last year, brought some variations on the BR theme - these were definitely needed on a diver's watch and are also aesthetically pleasing - no sandwich dial and Arabic numerals, but rather applied round indexes filled with white Super-Luminova® and four baton-style indexes applied to the four cardinal points. The index located at 12 o'clock sports an elongated trapezoidal shape. In a nutshell - the BR is neater, the dial is wider and lighter than a BR aviator.
Another detail that not everyone could understand, but that is actually concerns every BR lies in the four screws that secure the upper part of the box (which is made up of three parts) - the screws are symmetrical and oriented towards the center of the dial, a trick that increases the perception of balance and crafting perfection that unfortunately decreases on the bezel due to a missing ceramic insert. The 2018 novelty is that the dial, the bezel, the crown and the rubber strap are matte blue in color, while the hours counter is yellow.
Diving and daily use
How did it go underwater? If you consider that it was my first real diving session using oxygen tanks and the GAV, I have to say that it went very well and that my fears actually turned into excitement. I will soon enroll in a course to obtain the first level of the diver's patent. It is difficult to say something specific on the Bell Ross BR 03-92 Diver Blue - 12 meters of maximum depth for a watch that was designed to go as far as 300 meters of depth allow you to add little on this watch, unless you consider the fun that I had while wearing it for our first underwater photo-shooting session.
It is more interesting to share with you what it is like to wear this timepiece on a daily basis and this is where the strengths and weaknesses of the Bell Ross BR 03-92 Diver Blue really come out - it is a very personal watch, the rubber strap is beautiful both from a crafting point of view and from a design point of view and it is perfect to wrap your watch around the wrist while wearing a diving suit, a bit less when it is on your wrist and it's very hot, because it makes you sweat easily. The size is not a constraint since the case is extremely thin and the decorations on the case-back does not give the least discomfort.
Black or blue?
This is the question I have been asking myself after wearing everywhere I went the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Blue. I like the watch and I appreciate brave ideas that I think should get rewarded, therefore I do not care that it does not come with an in-house built caliber - a feature that would have naturally made the reasonable 3,300-euro-retail price. Not bad at all, I have to say.
The only thing that I would probably change is the bezel, because a blue ceramic insert would have had a different impact. but that doesn't really matter, as real diver's watches - those that, today, sport a bezel that is well-worn off by water salt and diving - were originally created with a graduated aluminum disc.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®