The Bell Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT and Bell Ross BR 03-92 AeroGT
How many brands design watch concepts before actually crafting them? A very few brands. How many brands, on the other hand, craft item prototypes that are not specifically watches but something that rather remind us of watches? Just one brand and that’s Bell & Ross. After launching the B-Rocket prototype that catalyzed the attention of every visitor to the 2014 Baselworld Fair towards the brand’s booth, this year, Bell & Ross has come back with the project of a high-performance-concept: the AeroGT.
The release of this timepiece has reinforced the image of a brand which has broadened its horizons by moving from the military aviation sector to two new fields that are strictly linked to the concept of pure performance (aerospace and land speed) and that have given it full access to the GT world. Has Bell & Ross then become a car-maker? Not exactly or, at least, not yet, this is a brand that is currently exploring new territories by moving from the “image consolidation” concept to that of “image broadening”. The new Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Aero GT and Bell & Ross BR 03-92 AeroGT are the best examples of the latter definition.
The brand has rapidly gained a solid image as a manufacturer of skeletonized and complicated timepieces, after the launch of the first BR-X1, the recent Hyperstellar, and the first tourbillons, Bell & Ross has doubled its efforts by releasing a chronograph that adds to the selection range within this particular niche and to the improvement of the BR’s style language.
On the outside, the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT and the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 AeroGT look like standard BR watches but the former ceramic-made matted black case has been replaced with a brushed and polished stainless-steel case. New details that only a trained eye or those who are familiar with the brand can easily spot have been added in; the famous pointed screws located on the four corners have been inserted in a perfectly symmetric manner and they all point towards the middle of the dial, the red ring bordering the crown is made of stainless-steel and so is the red button of the chronograph.
If compared to a BR-X1, that, at first sight looks the same as the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT, the skeletonized structure is much more prominent on these timepieces and it also differs from the previous structure because it lacks the X-shaped bridge that characterizes the X1 collection. The concept of lightness has been replaced with the concept of richness; the chamfered and polished edges alternate with flat surfaces that have been entirely brushed, the four screws located on the corner have been polished while the dial has undergone a heavy skeletonization process that makes it look very much like those skeletonizations that happen when engine parts and transmissions are fused.
The dial’s design conveys two opposite sensations; the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT’s dial is quite elaborate, but also virtually tidy due to the presence of the continuous seconds shaped in the manner of a wire-spoked wheel and the presence of the classic chrono minutes and hours – 30 minutes and 12 hours respectively – located at 9 o’clock and at 6 o’clock. They are not exactly easy to read but I reckon that this is not Bell & Ross’s real objective and it is definitely not the number one priority of a timepiece with a skeletonized dial.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 AeroGT (the three-hands-model) presents a more pronounced aesthetic gap between the case and the dial, it might look blurred at first sight, but simply zoom in with your objective, and you will realize the exceptionally rich details contained within. This timepiece is the best example of what Bell & Ross is capable of achieving today as a watch-manufacturer and it is also a scale of measurement that proves how much the manufacturer has grown up. Despite being clearly inspired by a racing chronograph, the shape of the date in the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT betrays the aeronautic past of the manufacturer since the window reminds us of the altitude indicators that characterize the altimeters present on the dashboard of an airplane.
Both timepieces feature a 42mm-case and are equipped with two movements that were developed starting off an ETA base, the BR-CAL.319 and the BR-CAL.318 calibers respectively, these have been improved thanks to the two above-described dials. An extremely beautiful perforated calf leather strap completes these timepieces, the strap sports a “hump” on the central part, a double stitching and a red border on the sides, and perforated canvas on the lower part. There is a clear reference to the gentleman driving gloves and this is the only vintage note on an otherwise extremely modern set, a contrast that seems almost wanted.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT and the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 AeroGT are the best premium expressions of a BR timepiece, it is as if the chronograph were the work of a bar-turner that took the raw steel case of a BR and worked on it using machine tools, he performed engravings, applied buttonholes, polishing and brushing techniques to make this case into an item for the lovers of fine mechanics, the very first people who should give themselves an AeroGT as a present. The Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT retails at 7,900 euro while the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 AeroGT retails at 4,900 euro, both timepieces have been released as limited editions.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®