For 2013 Bell & Ross will once again offer up a few new "Aviation Instrument" themed collection of watches based on the BR 01 (BR01) case. I believe this is the third or fourth year of doing so and it began with pieces like the BR 01 Compass and then the BR 01 Radar watch. The concept of the piece is to be even more directly "instrument" inspired even though the Bell & Ross BR 01 is called the "Instrument." Having said that, the standard BR 01 watches are straightforward standard watch dials while the Aviation Instrument collection are a bit more "interpretive."
You sort of either love or hate these watches. Some people say that Bell & Ross is messing with their tried and true formula of unambiguous military watch designs, and still others love the playfulness and designs of these pieces which are directly inspired by specific cockpit instruments. Last year for 2012 we covered the three new Bell & Ross BR 01 Instrument watches here with the Turn Coordinator, Altimeter, and Horizon. Now we look at the 2013 BR 01 Airspeed, Heading Indicator, and Climb for 2013.
The first thing you'll notice of course is that these watches take on a black and white with yellow trim theme. That is except for the Airspeed which adds a few more colors (though yellow is dominant). Bell & Ross provides images of the actual instrument so that you can see how the concept went from cockpit to wristwatch design. As always, Bell & Ross did a good job of "watchifying" them, but with various levels of legibility. I find that those pieces that are the most legible are the ones I enjoy the most. So in this case, I would be most partial to the Airspeed and Climb as the Heading Indicator is about as easy to read as the radar. Though, if you like the idea of a yellow fighter jet outline on your watch then this is the timepiece for you.
No doubt at Baselworld, Bell & Ross will once again have the actual instruments the designers used as inspiration for the watches. They make no secrets about the fact that they spend a lot of time looking at old and new instruments of many varieties as inspiration for new designs.
One interesting fact worth mentioning is that Bell & Ross will offer a boxed set that includes the 2012 and 2013 BR 01 Aviation Instrument watches together. Why no Compass or Radar? I don't know - but as limited editions, they may have all been sold out a while ago.
Each of the watches will come in Bell & Ross' 46mm wide BR 01 case in steel with a black PVD coating. The BR 01-92 Heading Indicator uses discs rather than hands to indicate the time. The concept is identical to that of the Compass or Radar watches. The only difference is the graphical design. Inside the watch is a base Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movement.
The BR 01-92 Airspeed watch also uses an ETA 2892 automatic movement but retains the hands as they are normally. This is once again going to be a polarizing design, this is interesting because you get a very traditional aviation style dial that is colorful. This is extremely rare. As a traditional aviator's watch you get an inner ring for the hours and an outer ring for the minutes - which is more logical as the hands touch the rings that they actually refer to.
Last is the Bell & Ross BR 01-97 Climb. This watch uses an ETA 2897 automatic movement and is the only one of the trio to offer any complications aside from the time. The 2897 also includes a power reserve indicator and Bell & Ross decided to include the date in there as well. With each of the watches will come a black rubber strap and velcr0-style flight strap - and each will be limited to just 999 pieces as a limited edition. bellross.com