By Dhananjay Pathak
With every other watch brand giving it a try, the “Vintage inspired” design trend has certainly become a rage in past couple of years. Having said that, it is worth mentioning that not everyone is successful at executing the vintage theme and more often than not the results are rather disappointing leaving a lot to be desired. Swiss brand Bell and Ross has been playing the vintage game for about a decade now and have been successfully delivered some cool looking vintage inspired timepieces through their Vintage collection.
During Baselworld, 2017 Bell and Ross refreshed their vintage collection by introducing a slew of new elegant and slimmer models, and for Baselworld 2018, the brand is adding some more vintage flavor to the collection by adding two new models; The Vintage BR V2-92 Steel Heritage and the Vintage BR V2-94 Steel Heritage. So, let’s have a closer look at what these watches have to offer.
Vintage BR V2-92 Steel Heritage
One of the first things that you notice while looking at a vintage watch is its rather diminutive size. Coming in at around 39mm, the case of the Vintage BR V2-92 steel heritage is nowhere close to vintage territory but it is certainly modestly sized by today’s standards and should wear comfortably even on smaller wrists. The 316L stainless steel case has a brushed finish and the domed crystal sitting on top gives a nice view to the dial and adds to the vintage vibe of this watch. Being a 3 hander, the dial on this watch has a clean aviation inspired layout.
The BR 03 family of watches has stood as a foundation of this Bell & Ross catalog throughout the years. From Bauhaus-inspired to desert combat-ready, we continually see Bell & Ross build upon the existing concept to create watches that are meant to appeal to a broad range of enthusiasts. While it’s true that most Bell & Ross versions can seem rather “loud” on the wrist, this one seeks to be, well, a bit more covert.All joking aside, the absolute number of BR 03 models can seem overwhelming for the average watch purchaser. However, I think it is interesting to see Bell & Ross as they include more styles, incorporate different materials, and draw a varied audience to their timepieces, all while staying true to their identity. After all, there’s no doubt that the BR 03 line provides powerful brand recognition so that it is logical for them to explore the possibilities offered by the underlying layout even though that just means easy aesthetic updates.At 42mm broad, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Dark Camo features the exact dimensions as the rest of the BR 03 watches. In my experience, it’s the most comfortable size for a Bell & Ross along with the matte black ceramic case with this one needs to only serve to boost wearability due to the material’s lightness and the simple fact that one doesn’t need to be concerned about scratching it. As a successor to both previously released watches in the camouflage sub-collection (the BR 03-92 Phantom and BR 03-92 Commando), this version almost seems to tie in visual elements from both of these while serving as a worthy, final installment in the series.As I mentioned, everything about this view is intended to fly beneath the radar, for example, dial itself. It is completely composed of, you guessed it, a distinct black and gray camo patchwork pattern. It’s intriguing to see how it works together with the sandwich layout, which Bell & Ross does very nicely. The bottom layer is a solid disc of black Super-LumiNova that glows throughout the numeral cutouts of the best dial layer. Black lume is not bright like C3 or similar variations, obviously – because that might give away your position to the enemy.
The hour markers are a combination of printed bold Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9, and baton-style indices and have been painted with luminous material to enhance visibility in low light situations. The sword style handset is nicely proportioned and has also been filled with cream-colored luminous paint, once again resonating the vintage vibe of this watch. One of my favorite aspects of this dial is the thoughtfully placed date window between 4 and 5. This is a really nice detail as it keeps the dial pristine and does not spoil the symmetry of dial by cutting into the hour markers. Powering the watch is the calibre BR-CAL.302, which based on a Swiss automatic movement and operates at a frequency of 4 Hz.
Vintage BR V4-94 Steel Heritage
The second watch in the newly introduced Steel Heritage collection is the BR V4-94, a chronograph with a bi-compax layout. Being from the same family, this watch shares all the vintage goodies with its younger sibling including the domed sapphire crystal and faux patina look, but there are a few key differences here. Being a chronograph the case on this watch is definitely thicker and bigger, but still looks surprisingly manageable with a diameter of 41mm.
The dial maintains the aviation aesthetic, but this time around the hour markers at 3 and 9 have been replaced with the 2 chronograph subdials representing the running seconds and 30 minute counter respectively. There is also a fixed bezel with a 60 minute aluminium insert as opposed to the rotating bezel on the BR V2-92. The watch is water resistant to 100 metres courtesy of the screw down pushers and is powered by the calibre BR-CAL.301, which is an ETA based automatic chronograph movement.
The new Vintage Steel Heritage watches from Bell and Ross are tastefully executed and offer some nice vintage charm in a modern wristwatch. Both the watches would be available with either a rubber strap or a steel bracelet and prices would vary between EUR 2600 to EUR 3900, depending upon the combination one chooses to purchase. bellross.com