Bell & Ross has some credibility and reputation for professional watches adapted for extreme conditions and re-purposed for urban adventures. Here in their latest release – the iconic square diver – the BR 03 is now clad in an entirely ceramic case and an olive drab military styled dial. We get up close with it.
Review: Bell & Ross BR 03 Diver Military
Retail price is SGD 6600 inclusive of GST/ USD 4500 before taxes / Euros 4400 inclusive of French VAT. Limited Edition of 999 pieces.
The case, dial and hands
The case shape is the now familiar BR 03 square diver with a round bezel. Bell & Ross have done many manifestations of this case shape, and with the BR 03 Diver Military, have chosen to use a reinforced ceramic case. Un the hand and on the wrist, the watch feels very light, but very robust and strong. The case design is particularly tough with a very thick back and a 2.85mm thick sapphire crystal with antireflective coating. This crystal is much thicker than the 1.50mm one used in the classic BR 03-02. The crown is screw-down and protected by sloping shoulders from the case side. The entire case is rated to a depth rating of 300m, meeting ISO 6425 standards.
The dial is particularly attractive in its khaki-olive drab hue. The dial layout has always been the time and tested high legibility design with huge applique markers (bar shaped for the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, with the 6 o;clock marker truncated to make space for the specifications legend on the dial. The 12 o’clock marker is larger for visual balance is in the shape of a stylized conical bar. The rehaut is sloping and marked for the minutes, with thicker strokes used for the 5 minute intervals. The Bell & Ross logo occupies pride of place below the 12 o’clock marker.
The hands are thick with infilling of green Super-LumiNova® C3. The sweep seconds hand carries a lollipop with a blob of Super-LumiNova, and is otherwise a sleek, aerodynamic number. The bezel is unidirectional, and marked with the usual diver watch markings, also in bright lume. In the dark and in good light, the BR 03 Diver Military remains highly legible.
The BR 03 Diver Military is delivered in a water-resistant PELICAN® box, and with two straps: the first one is made from an ultra-resilient olive drab synthetic fabric as shown in our photographs. This strap is attached using a NATO like Velcro closure system. The second is a woven black rubber with a PVD coated stainless steel pin buckle.
The movement: BR-CAL.302.
The movement is the standard one used in all the BR 03 watch line – the BR-CAL.302. This is a very robust movement well proven. The base is the workhorse Sellita SW 300-1. And is encased in a soft iron cage to increase resistance to magnetic fields. Interestingly, the Bell & Ross literature does not mention the magnetic resistance levels. The 3 exposures to a direct current magnetic field of 4,800 A/m required for the ISO 6425 is a very low bar to clear. We suspect the magnetic resistance is much higher.
The intended environment
The design intent of the BR 03 Diver Military is for professional underwater use. The watch is designed to meet the technical and functional features of this diving watch echo a set of military specifications as set by international standard ISO 6425. The three design principles being: water-resistance, legibility and reliability. The water resistance rating is 300m.
The BR 03 Diver Military is designed to meet the rigours of a professional diving environment, however, we think almost all the 999 pieces will be used by deep-sea diving professionals, but will serve a re-purposed life on the wrist of an urban adventurer. The tough design lends itself easily in the environment, and its handsome good looks completes the vibes of the cool dude.
The watch wears nicely, and mostly feel smaller than the square dimensions of 42mm would suggest. And looks especially good with military styled clothing or in urban street wear.
Priced at SGD 6,600, it is neither expensive nor cheap. And we can argue that is is a rather good value proposition. The design is certainly an excellent exercise in combining a beautiful aesthetic to functionality and robustness. And we think it achieves this balance very well.
The BR 03 Diver Military was photographed in our studio. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 with H28 extension tube. Profoto strobes.
Bell & Ross BR 03 Diver Military Specifications
Movement: BR-CAL.302. Automatic mechanical. Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds and date. Water-resistance: 300 metres.
Case: 42 mm in width. Matt black ceramic. Unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel with 60-minute scale. Screw-down crown. Crown guard.
Strap: woven black rubber and ultra-resilient khaki synthetic fabric.
Dial: khaki. Applique indices and applique skeletonised SuperLumiNova®-filled hour, minute and seconds hands.
Buckle: pin. Steel with black PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) finish.
Lovely watch but “automatic” and “water resistant” are completely unnecessary.