It is difficult to mistake the signature square case of a Bell & Ross timepiece. But there is a conundrum to that as well.
The question is: How can Bell & Ross continue to improve and build on something that carries its brand identity? While they have made breakthroughs with both the round and tonneau cases, the square-shaped Bell & Ross watches are still the undoubtedly flagship of the brand. How can they improve on it?
One of the methods is to tweak the functionality of the timepiece. This is what Bell & Ross had done, with the BR03-92 Diver. The idea is to take the iconic case – which was initially designed to represent the cockpit instruments – to morph it into a diver’s watch. Will that work?
Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Matte Black: The Case, Dial, and Hands
The BR03-92 Diver Matte Black is fitted with a 42mm case, but there are some differences as compared to its brethren in the range. The most obvious one is the inclusion of a uni-directional rotating ceramic bezel, in which it is used to measure the time elapsed in the water. The bezel insert is also coated with luminescence material on the markers and numerals, in which it helps to improve legibility under low lighting conditions.
As suggested by its name, the watch features a “blacked-out” aesthetic. This is also thanks to its matte black ceramic case, which is notably known for its hardness. It also provides a nice contrast to the numerals and indices on the bezel and dial as well.
On that note, we shall go further in-depth with the dial. The black theme continues, and as mentioned it is flanked by white indices and markers on it. What is also interesting is that Bell & Ross had also incorporated some elements of orange into the timepiece – notably on the hour hand, as well as the label “300M/1000FT”. It adds an interesting touch to the watch, as the monotonic theme might get a little boring for some.
The Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.302
Powering the watch is the BR-CAL.302, an automatic movement that is based on the utilitarian Sellita SW300-1. The movement features an additional date function (placed at the 4:30 position on the dial-side), as well as a power reserve of around 38 hours.
There is nothing spectacular about the movement, although it is known to be a robust and reliable one. We are also unable to comment on the finishing, as the watch is fitted with a solid caseback. However, as a tool watch, we do believe that reliability is the number one priority – and the movement insofar performs as well as it should.
The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Matte Black is priced at S$6,200, and it comes with two strap options (black rubber strap and ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric). The rubber strap is additionally fitted with a black PVD-coated steel pin buckle.
In our opinion, we do enjoy this Bell & Ross watch. It is comfortable on the wrist, and yet it provides a great wrist presence as well. We have not used it for diving, but we reckon 9 out of 10 owners will not be using it for that purpose anyway. It pairs rather well with any casual outfit, and a large matte black watch certainly exudes the “cool” factor.
The most obvious competitor for this piece is its brother: The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver (Retail Price: S$5,300). This piece is cased in steel, which is drastically different from the subject of the article. We think that this is a nice piece, although the Matte Black version provides a rather more interesting aesthetic. However, does that difference command a price premium of S$900? Well, only the consumer can provide the answer.
For a stylish diver’s watch with a large wrist presence, we have the Breitling Avenger II Seawolf. This 45mm steel watch features an ultra-resistant carbon based black coating, which contrast greatly with its bright yellow dial. The Avenger II Seawolf also packs a punch, with an impressive depth rating of 3,000m. The watch is priced at S$6,520 for the rubber strap variant, and it is limited to a production of 1,000 pieces.
Finally, we have the Tudor Black Bay Dark. Similar to the Breitling, the Tudor is a steel watch that is black PVD-coated. This is where the Bell & Ross stands out with its full ceramic case. Nonetheless, the Black Bay Dark has got its charms too with its vintage-inspired design cues and the in-house produced movement. The watch is priced from S$5,688 onwards.
The Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Matte Black offers collectors an interesting option for a good-looking yet casual timepiece. From the competitive landscape, the Bell & Ross is a compelling option for the fact that it is one of the few rare watches that offers a full ceramic case at this price point. Most of the other watches are either black PVD-coated, or they charge a higher premium for a timepiece that uses the same material.
We also do like how Bell & Ross has started to move away from its association with aerospace, without losing too much of the brand’s DNA. While its aerospace theme is definitely cool, we believe that a brand will need to constantly innovate to grow its base and attract new clients. This is a great example of that.
In conclusion, we certainly like the watch for what it is. If a collector is looking for a casual and good-looking watch for the weekends, the Bell & Ross BR03-92 is perhaps an option that is worth a consideration. For more infomation, go to the Bell & Ross Diver site.