The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver ISO-certified watch hands-on
At Horbiter® we love new ideas, a pioneering spirit, and all those brands that are able to come up with something different in the world of watch-making, whether it's a new aesthetic language or some new technical innovation. In the 90s, Bell & Ross had some sort of an intuition and it decided to use an aircraft’s dashboard gauge as the source of inspiration for its watches and created a brand, where the square acts as the stylistic point of reference in a world whose domineering type of geometry is usually the circular one.
The BR collection is the quintessence of a brand that basically shifted a concept usually associated to the aviation world to the marine world by simply creating the first diver’s watch with a squared case. History had already given us a waterproof watch (not a diver’s watch though) with a squared case (the Monaco), but being able to craft a professional ISO certified diver’s watch is something else, and Bell & Ross reached this goal with the 2017 Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver. The Swiss brand is no new to the marine world;
I am quite familiar with the brand’s series of diver’s watches with a tonneau case, but I had completed forgotten (and the manufacturer reminded me with their press-release) that Bell & Ross had already crafted a super diver’s watch in the past; the Hydromax. It is a timepiece that, when it first came out, guaranteed a waterproofness level up to depth of 11,100 meters, but it is also a watch that probably went unnoticed at the time as the brand was just slowly entering the market. Nowadays, the Hydromax can boast a very high collector’s value given the "halo brand" value that Bell & Ross has reached in recent times and the value that the manufacturer’s BR collection has reached altogether.
Mixing the concept of a diver’s watch with that of the BR’s case is perhaps what was still missing or, maybe, what divers were still expecting from a Bell & Ross timepiece. No sooner said than done - the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver is not a simple aesthetic adaptation of a BR but rather a watch designed for an intense professional use as highlighted by the fact that it complies with the ISO 6425 norm. This is much more than a simple technical specification as it rather a true design condition and a set of requirements that brands have to abide by if they want their timepieces to be considered as true diver's watches.
The BR has now acquired a new unidirectional rotating bezel, a noticeable protecting system for the crown and some other requirements such as the resistance to magnetic fields and to specific shock impacts, at the same time, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver has still managed to retain all those qualities that have made the BR famous: a great readability, a clear shape and the unmistakable personality of a tool watch inspired by the military world and worthy of a special force.
The squared case measures 42mm in diameter, the round indexes are filled with white SuperLuminova and the hour hand is orange in colour. The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver’s rating goes up to 300m, but what makes this timepiece particularly attractive is its crafting side, because BR watches have greatly improved when it comes to details and they are also aesthetically more mature and purer than before, you simply need to take a look at what the brand managed to attain with its Horograph for example to understand what I am talking about.
The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver retails at 3,300 euro and, among its strengths, are the fact that it is one of the very few Swiss-made certified ISO diver’s watches and that it can be used exactly the same way as any other BR timepiece (a nice Velcro strap is available to replace the rubber strap). The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver maintains its spirit of aviation watch and clearly shows that the manufacturer aims at crafting tool watches; if one day we could get a Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver dedicated to the SAS or the Navy Seals that would be the real cherry on the cake!
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®