Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

This is the Bell & Ross 126 Sport and it is one of the most important watches currently sold by the sometimes polarizing French brand. Bell & Ross is a recognizable luxury brand thanks to their line of instrument-style watches like the BR 01 and its many iterations. These square-cased watches offer owners a chance of effectively wearing an aeronautical gauge on their wrist as their design has been derived from the legible military styling of an airplane instrument cluster. Both airplane gauges and watches find value in a similar sort of styling, mainly one based in contrast and simplicity with the primary goal being accuracy and legibility of the displayed values.

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

While Bell & Ross may be best known for their instrument lines, the brand has recently been on something of a tear, expanding the scope of their aesthetic with a range of vintage-inspired watches which are meant to echo the military and war-time roots of pilot's watches. While we have shown you both the BR 123, BR 126 Original, and a highlight of the 126 Sport, we felt the need to try a 126 Sport on for a couple of weeks to offer a more complete view of this small but important variation of the BR 126 lineup (tough job, but you can thank me later).

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The Bell & Ross 126 Sport is a 41mm sport chronograph featuring a bi-compax (two sub dial) layout. The main difference between the BR 126 and the BR 126 Sport is the addition of a thin fixed bezel which does give the 126 Sport a more... sporty look. While technically part of Bell & Ross' "Vintage" line, the 126 Sport doesn't exhibit any of the usual vintageshorthand we have seen in other watches like faux aged luminous paint, special markings or logos, or the use of retro-style hands/markers. The 126 Sport is a more simplified and modern example of a watch meant to suggest a certain respect for its lineage, if such a thing exists. With styling that is essentially a more military and pilot inspired take on the Omega Speedmaster, I think the BR 126 looks outstanding.

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The bezel is 43mm wide so this 41mm watch wears a bit bigger than its listed size would suggest. Factoring for the size of the bezel and proportionally large dial, the BR 126 Sport wears like a perfectly modern sport watch and has a lot of wrist presence for a completely monochromatic watch.

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The BR 126 Sport is powered by an ETA 2894 automatic chronograph movement, which can be seen via the sapphire display back. The ETA 2894 is essentially an ETA 2892A2 (top tier ETA three hand and date) which has been modified to offer a two dial chronograph. The chronograph displays its reading via the left sub dial (30 minute measure) and the full-size seconds hand. Running seconds for standard time are shown on the right sub dial.

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The dial design is simple, balanced and very legible with crisp markers and long thin hands. The BR 123/126 signature over sized 6 and 12 markers are still here and add a bit of casual military appeal to the 126 Sport dial design.

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The chronograph controls are quite conventional with the start/pause assigned to the top pump-style pusher and reset assigned to the lower pusher. The action for the pushers is heavy and leaves no doubt that the pusher has been actuated (see video for example). The crown offers control of time and date setting. The BR 126 Sport is water resistant to 100m as the crown does not screw down. The sapphire crystal is treated with an anti-reflective coating and does a good job of managing reflections given its domed nature. The sapphire crystal sits on top of the bezel with the edge of the crystal exposed rather than being flush-mounted with the edge of case. This crystal application gives the 126 Sport a vintage feel, but may cause the crystal, especially its edge, to be more susceptible to damage from daily wear (see video for a better view of this).

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

On the wrist, the polished steel case is bright and nicely compliments the flat black dial and polished hands and markers. The 126 Sport wears large enough but is actually only 51mm lug to lug and 13mm tall, including the domed sapphire crystal. Weight comes in at a completely reasonable 104g on the pictured black leather strap and deployment clasp.

Bell & Ross 126 Sport Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

As we previously reported, the Bell & Ross 126 Sport carries a retail price of $4500 USD which is pricey but not surprising given both average Bell & Ross prices and the varied competition in this range. So what makes the Bell & Ross 126 Sport so important? It expands their brand into a more traditional space. While there is nothing wrong with the BR 01, the iconic Bell & Ross instrument watches are a love or hate affair, much like the Omega Ploprof. I think the 123/126/126 Sport lineup offers a more accessible and versatile response to a buyer who appreciates Bell & Ross but isn't all that enamored by their instrument style watches. The 126 Sport is certainly not Bell & Ross re-inventing the wheel but it is a very attractive point in their evolution of expanding their main lineup to include models with more mass-market appeal. I have to agree with Ariel's assessment that the BR 126 Sport is an excellent option for someone looking for a well rounded, nicely made, and versatile daily wearer.

Written by James Stacey

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16 comments
antjay
antjay

Just another speedy ripoff . Remove the logos and it could pass  for  a $60 casio  on the wrist .   Big fan of the 01 by the way.

CG
CG

ok what's the deal with the brass zipper picture... is that for retro flight jacket fantasy? last thing i would ever do is rub a case of a 4.5K watch with a brass zipper! A Rado hard metal its not...

Billy Beer
Billy Beer

The reason I think the vast number of watch lovers dislike Bell and Ross is they are nothing more than an overpriced fashion watch masquerading as a luxury brand. Basically they take a $200 pre-made ETA movement, who even stamp the rotor, and slap in a pre-manufactured case.  What makes matters worse is that they relabel the movement to make it sound as if they are actual watch makers.  I can't see paying for a Christopher Ward watch at 5-10 times the price.  At lest companies vastly superior companies like Sinn and Bremont add significant features to their ETA movement in house so as to improve durability/reliability or over engineer their cases to ensure top quality.  All we get here is an overprices Speedmaster homage though at least the new Omega model has the superior 9300 movement.  I can't wait until ETA cuts off their supply to companies like Bell and Ross as they represent the very worst of horology.

jvrinz
jvrinz

Lovin the square cases much more. Furthermore its a nice watch www.amazingwatchesstore.com

jvrinz
jvrinz

Lovin the square cases much more. Furthermore its a nice watch


HawaiianHorology
HawaiianHorology

Overall I like the watch BUT 1) It DOES look a lot like a speedy. 2) More importantly, IMHO, the hour hand is TOO short.  The function of a watch is to tell time and the hour and minute hands need to have the correct length.  The minute hand is okay (could be a hair longer) but the hour hand is just too short.  It IS a nice watch but people will remember B&R for the 01 and Omega for the Speedy.  So, if given the choice, the natural would be the speedy over this.

PhilMaurer
PhilMaurer

Bell and Ross make a speedmaster!  Seriously it is just the old Speedmaster movement minus the co-axial part, updated to 2 subdials.The Question on this watch is, would you buy this or the Speedmaster?  I personally prefer the 3 subdials on Omega watches hence my recent purchase of the "older" Planet Ocean Chrono with 3 subs, not the newer 2 subdial watch(which is also alot thicker! and rides way to high on my wrist)I do however respect both Sinn and B&R for the cleaner looking watch faces.  I do surprisingly like this watch, I just wish it had a rotating 24 hour GMT bezel.  Of all the 126 watches the Bezel really pops this watch.  I would seriously consider this watch if it had a rotating 24 hour gmt bezel...So the question is...  Get the older 3 subdial Speedy?  Get the newer 2 subdial speedy with a co-axial movement, or get this watch, which while beautiful is slightly hampered by the lack of a rotating bezel, which I feel is a must in a tool type watch.

RichardZolla
RichardZolla

@jamesstacey @aBlogtoRead Good job James. I like the watch too. :>)

vmarks
vmarks

The most important thing for any business is to know why they exist, and from that everything they make becomes obvious. If they exist to make vintage aircraft instrument inspired timepieces from high quality parts, this watch makes sense - but it makes ones like BR01-92 Airborne 415 "Skull & Crossbones" not make sense. It looks as if the playful skull and crossbones have fallen out of the lineup, so the marine, instrument and vintage lines make coherent sense. If they try and do more playful ones, I'll have a harder time taking them seriously.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

I have always loved the legibility and simple elegance of this line.  In the showroom though, they look small (relatively) and the tall crystal probably adds to that impression.  There's also the worry that such an exposed crystal could easily get scratched accidentally.  It's completely irrational but B&R as a brand doesn't scream 'premium' to me in the same way similarly priced watches from other brands would.  It may be because they've produced so many fashion/hipster variations of their classic models that the brand has lost some focus, i'm not sure.  On the display stand B&M watches look like brightly-coloured candies, with the few classic models looking rather lost.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

First off, this is a very attractive watch. I enjoy the styling, and could easily slip this into the rotation. I know I can get a lot more watch, with a muich better pedigree for this kind of money, so I won;t be looking to buy one, but I appreciate the effort.

That said, I see no reason why this watch is 'important' for B&R. That it is a detachment from thier norm, and then stating it is more important because of it is an insult to themselves (unless, of course, these are just James' musings alone). B&R is all about the love/hate affair - they built a name for themselves on it, and wake up every morning for a big bowl of love/hate flakes. They would be virtually unrecognized today without the watches that put them in a position to offer something as broad-sweeping as this, and charge such a premium for it. I'm happy to see them moving in this kind of direction, but as a way of expanding the brand's appeal, not overlaying everything that was done to get them where they are today. The BR01 is the most important watch they have made, it is thier identity.

Ariel Adams
Ariel Adams

It is like one of those mind's eye things. Some people see a Speedmaster and some don't in this picture.

jstacey
jstacey

@Stefane Fermigier Very true and has been corrected. While they do have a manufacturing facility in Switzerland, they are definitely based in Paris. Thanks!

jstacey
jstacey

@RichardZolla Thanks Richard!

jstacey
jstacey

@Kris C Hey Kris, definitely my musings alone and not a company line from B&R. Also, I agree that the BR01 is the most important watch they have made and that it is certainly their identity. I just contrast that with the feeling that the BR 126 Sport offers an appealing alternative to that same identity. I don't want the BR 01 and kin to go away, I just think that the 123/126 line is important in that it is different from what they are known for and in many ways less niche. 

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