Bell & Ross BR 126 Flyback Watch Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 126 Flyback Watch Hands-On


Bell & Ross had a strong collection of new watches for 2013 at Baselworld this year. My personal favorite model is the BR 126 Blackbird (UPDATE: Bell & Ross has officially changed the name of the watch to the "Bell & Ross BR 126 Flyback"), a limited edition model with a personality that is meant to honor the origin of Bell & Ross as a brand. At first glance, this watch might look like just another color variation in the BR 126 collection, but it is not that at all. Let's first consider the beginnings of Bell & Ross back in the 1990s...

Bell & Ross watches were originally dual-branded Sinn timepieces that the founders of Bell & Ross felt could do very well in the larger fashion and luxury market as opposed to simply the dedicated professional watch market. German Sinn watches to this day is mostly setup as a direct-to-consumer tool watch brand producing some of the finest durable and professional use mechanical watches around. At that time in the 1990s, you basically needed to be in that world to even know about Sinn, as finding them in retailers was rare - especially outside of Europe. So Bell & Ross made a business model out of selling Sinn in places it had never before been.



Later Bell & Ross began to produce its own designs, but even today the professional diver and aviation style borrowed from Sinn remains. Watches from the two brands today are quite distinct, but if you love Sinn you'll probably love Bell & Ross, and vice versa. So getting back to the BR 126 Blackbird, it all focuses around a movement that honors the famous Lemania 5100 movement (no longer made today), that was in a lot of Sinn watches about 20 years ago (and of course before that as well).

The Lemania 5100 layout sometimes looks like a Valjoux 7750 at first, but it is not. It featured central seconds and minute hands for the chronograph, and a 24 hour AM/PM indicator. The BR 126 Blackbird does not contain a Lemania, but it does contain a Swiss ETA 2892 with a special module produced by Dubois Depraz that recreates the functions of the famed Lemania. Thus, the Bell & Ross BR 126 Blackbird has orange colored central seconds and minutes hands for the chronograph, as well as an orange hand for the subsidiary hours counter. The other two subdials are for the AM/PM indicator and the seconds indicator. Unlike most BR 126 models, there is also a sloped flange ring around the dial (with tachymeter scale) that offers a more expansive look. You should also notice that the hour and minute hands are styled after the BR01 Heritage watches. Last, the chronograph has a flyback function - which is a nice little piece of icing on the cake.



Most Bell & Ross BR 126 (reviewed here) models came in 41mm wide cases, but the BR 126 Blackbird has a 43mm wide case. This larger case size gives the watch a more impressive look, but doesn't go so far as to make it a "huge" watch. Bell & Ross' famed square BR01 watch at 46mm wide is great, but Bell & Ross reports that the smaller 42mm wide BR03 is a better seller. In a round case at 43mm wide, the BR 126 Blackbird will wear similarly. The matte black PVD case is simple and good looking, as should be the case in a tool-style watch. The BR 126 Blackbird is a thoroughly military style timepiece without glitz, but it does have a high level of refinement. This is a watch for every well-dressed pilot (or wanna be pilot).


Bell & Ross will supply the BR 126 Blackbird with two straps, so you don't need to choose between the orange canvas strap and the black rubber strap. No doubt the orange strap is cooler, and takes the design of the watch to a different level. Having said that, in the interest of wishing to be conservative once in a while, the textured black rubber strap is a good idea. I can also see the BR 126 Blackbird working well on a black alligator strap, and of course any number of NATO-style straps.

With a release date toward the end of 2013, the BR 126 Flyback will be a limited edition model - likely due to the fact that the movements are special order. Bell & Ross will produce the watch as a limited edition of 500 pieces with a price just under $7,000. A beautiful watch, and one that made our top 10 of Baselworld 2013 list.

  • TimelyOne

    Add moonphase and power reserve indicators and this could win the most cluttered face award. Too much going on here, and an awful attempt to bring the strap color to the hands. An answer to a question never asked.

  • Ulysses31

    The orange strap is too garish and the dial looks overly shiny, almost plastic-y.  I like the implementation of the chronograph but this watch looks too much like an accessory for someone working in the emergency services wearing a hi-viz jacket.

  • DangerussArt

    I’m not wild about this particular model, but I am in favor of B&R doing more round cased models. Just take some of the same BR01 models and put them in round cases and I’d be happy. I can’t wear the “brick”.

  • CG

    Like the orange… but doesn’t say “pilot” at all, automotive reference is more feasible to me. I would wesr it but like all B&R it!s way overpriced. I would think that this watch would have a nig “sport” appeal so the limited edition seems unnecessary, everybody does it.

  • CG

    Spelling Corrections re: tiny keyboard excuse!
    nice “sport” appeal …
    I would wear it…

  • Kris C

    When I saw this in the top 10 from Basel 2013 article, I knew a review was coming.
    I think its fantastic, and some of the best stuff B&R has put out in a whilehey’ve done a lot of work recently to break out of the ‘circle in a square’ mould they made for themselves: a bunch of funky, novelty-esque releases that are based on old timer and instruments, and the wates in the WW1 and 123 cases. This one is the most wearable I think, and while not ‘in house’, I’m a fan of the DD modules: great movements.
    I agree with Ulysses on the canvas strap though: I don’t think its too garish, it would probably be my choice, but I was surprised to see it was canvas. Its weirdly glossy, and reminds me more of the watersnake hides that I use from time to time(which make great straps). But glossy canvas just seems… cheap?
    Anyway, it doesn’t seem to be getting the love here that I might have expected, but I’m a fan.

  • MarkCarson

    Having seen this watch in person, I will say that it looks good and does not embody the negative comments posted so far (which are valid considering how the watch looks in photos). I don’t count myself as a B&R fan but I did like this watch. An to be fair, I liked one of the “circle in a square” watches much more on my wrist that I would have expected (it was actually comfortable).

  • Ryan B

    Really got nothing to say other than I like this B&R model.