Bell & Ross BR01-94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review

Bell & Ross BR01-94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review

Bell & Ross BR01 94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

When Bell & Ross released the "pro" version of the iconic square BR01 case a few years ago it was pretty "wow." It was perhaps at an apex of the large aviator watch's popularity, and Bell & Ross was interested in creating as diverse a range of BR01 models as it could dream up. That included limited edition versions in various colors, and thematic items like this futuristic looking 'warrior's watch' in titanium with a carbon fiber dial. So is the BR01-94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber still cool or a reminder of when watches like this sold more easily?

Bell & Ross first released this BR01 Pro model back in about 2008 (covered here), and then in 2009 a version of the BR01 Pro was released in an all carbon fiber case (covered here). This reviewed model is a combination of the two. The case is titanium while the dial is carbon fiber. As you can see, Bell & Ross was truly trying to offer something for everyone. We've complained about carbon fiber before. Often in dials where its presence destroys legibility. That isn't the case here because Bell & Ross had the foresight to design the watch with massive hand and hour markers slathered in lume that could be easily read (but not look that garish). In practice we like it.

Bell & Ross BR01 94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Bell & Ross BR01 94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

There were a few versions of this "Pro" dial treatment, and it showed up on a few different watches. Bell & Ross even offered this dial (in carbon fiber) on one of their BR02 dive watches (hands-on here). As you can see, three-hand (BR01-92) as well as chronograph models (BR01-94) were available. While it is a healthy alternative to the standard aviator dial which is so classic looking on the BR01 (as well as many other Bell & Ross watches), we think the Pro dial is more of an "occasional" look versus something you would wear daily like the aviator dial.

Having said that the case is very cool. Bell & Ross added another square shape to the bezel, but one that is turned at a 45 degree angle (of course with cut off corners). The bezel is also raised up a bit, and not flat like that on the standard BR01. A little bit of trivia, custom truck and car maker ICON 4x4 has some dashboard bezels in their vehicles that were inspired by the case of the BR01 Pro case and bezel. The case of course is 46mm wide, which for me is the perfect size for this look. Bell & Ross released the smaller 42m wide BR03 as a smaller version of the BR01, but I don't think it has the same visual effect as its larger brothers.

Bell & Ross BR01 94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Bell & Ross BR01 94 Pro Titanium Carbon Fiber Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

19 comments
LapYoda
LapYoda

I guess I'm in the minority, but I like how this watch looks.  At 46 mm, it's too big for me (I would probably be able to wear it if it came in the 42 mm size), but I prefer this case design to the usual BR01.  It just looks more visually interesting with the octagonal bezel and the more angular dial font.  Maybe it looks too "fussy," but it appeals to me.

Suvi Cyriac
Suvi Cyriac

"Guy who has bumper sticker that reads "my other car is an Abrams tank."" :)

"date window located between 3 and 4 o'clock" From the images, it is actually between 4 and 5 O' clock. Just me being a mean nitpicker!

NB Jessica
NB Jessica

Hi,

I'm quite a newbie when it comes to watches but I am keen to learn more, so kindly forgive my ignorance.


I must say though, there seems to be a love hate relationship when it comes to this watch. Personally, the shape of the frame itself does give this military outlook. Too square for my taste but it does make it original as compared to the general shape of most watches. I do wonder however whether for such a price using carbon fiber for the straps is worth it because I feel that at some point the quality is more fragile. Do we know how structurally strong the carbon fiber was made? Correct me I am wrong. 


On a second note, given that titanium frame is lighter than its original model but yet still weighs upon the wrist, should this not be taken as an advantage particularly since it is not as strong as steel?

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Meh...not something I would spend my money for. B & R is classed with Panerai in the brands bought by, IMO, those overcompensating for something. A "fanboys" delight though. I've seen them in the wild and those wearing them did fit a certain...stereotype. (referring to both B&R and Panerai - sorry Jason)

Note the sunken screws? A trap for grit and sand. Bad design, IMO. Not a practical watch to wear. Makes a nice desk clock I'm told.

 Not a fan. But thats just my opinion.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

I continue to think that the square BR-01 family of cases make the watches look like they were removed from something and then crudely strapped to some dorks wrist. They just look like a re-purposed clock that is not a natural fit for a human wrist. At least the smaller size pieces aren't as bad. And I do like some other B&R like the BR-126 Blackbird shown at BaselWorld 2013.

I 'get' that they are supposed to be 'time instruments' and look like then came from an aircraft's cockpit. But a miniature grandfather clock strapped to a wrist would have the same appeal to me. I'm not saying that the aircraft clock look can't be done, but this isn't it for me.

Having said all of that. This is one of the least offensive BR-01 pieces. The others are simply worse.

hobycook
hobycook

Ugghh.  Just about any detail you pick, this thing and all its brethren are just plain wrong.  The fact that B&R sold well in the days when big for bigness' sake was in vogue only emphasizes what Ariel politely comments, that this "feels more like a "then" product than a "here and now."  "Wish it never was" is how I see it.  You want to make your wrist look like an airplane cockpit? Take the strap off, use some extra long screws and screw it onto your arm!   There you go, Flash Gordon!

ilovesandwiches
ilovesandwiches

Hate how they can't get their screw heads to be pointed in the same direction.  Should switch to  hex head screw.

Ryan B
Ryan B

The angled corners make these look way more attractive.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

Uh, this watch looks awfully familiar.  Hasn't it been featured on the blog before?  They all look the same to me though, so who knows.  Nice enough design but it gets boring quickly.

Lesthepom
Lesthepom

I do wish B & R would come up with an in house movement as a watch with this much design in it deserves a movement to match as Ariel points out it is a design restriction putting such a small movement in such a big watch looks like it has been designed backwards they built a case then the movement was fitted then they thought about the face all those little dialed in the middle of the watch just look wrong

I like the look the oblong pushers give to the square watch but I do wonder about the long term durability a square peg in a hole does not work as well as a round one in a round hole time will tell I suppose :-)

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@NB Jessica Carbon Fiber is rather stiff so it also makes for stiffer watch bands compared to other materials such as natural leathers.Being stiff means a CF strap does not have much 'give' (stretch) so it may not always be the most comfortable strap in warm weather as ones wrist often swells a bit in the heat. CF is pretty tough stuff but there are lots of factors to consider in your choice of a watch strap. The good news is that you can usually change out a strap based on what you need (or like).

Yes, the use of titanium makes the case lighter than the same case design in stainless steel. Usually strength is not the big issue with a properly design watch case. The hardness of the metal is usually more of the concern for customers. For instance, gold and platinum are much heavier than stainless steel and, all other things being equal, are softer (less hard), especially gold, so they scratch a lot more than steel. Titanium's main advantage is its lightness compared to steel. However it is more costly and more difficult to machine into a watch case than steel.

Good  questions by the way. Cheers.

nateb123
nateb123

@Ulysses31 The video review was up a LOOOONG time ago and I remember seeing it then.  Perhaps that's it?

I think this design comes to life on a larger wrist.  It's a beauty in my eyes although value is always questionable with B&Rs

NB Jessica
NB Jessica

@MarkCarson, thanks a lot for the info! Really appreciate it. So it goes to say that CF is pretty good as a material, but based on your description that its more stiff and can be uncomfortable to wear, what advantage does CF have over other natural materials that attracts watch buyers? 

Thanks again!

Cheers. 

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

@nateb123 @Ulysses31 I'm slightly torn about the design.  I love the look of something so obviously machined; I actually find those videos of 6-axis CNC machinery at work to be fascinating (nerd).  On the other hand, there's something "raw" about it.  It does indeed look like a part belonging to an aeroplane, but I guess I wouldn't mind something with a little more sophistication to the finish.  I don't have a particularly large wrist (7.25 inches) and when I look at these in the shop window I am put off by how large they look.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Ulysses31 You are so right. When was the last time a watch dial failed structurally and the owner lamented, "If only the dial had been made of carbon fiber...". Ha ha. 

And the  CF case that AP made (if I'm remembering right) did not work out very well. They 'forged' it and as we all know fiber are unidirectionally strong and usually laid up in weaves (or roving) for strength. Matte fibers (more of less what AP forged) are usually not used for structural applications. Sort of like a comparison between broadcloth and felt. Ounce for ounce which one is stronger?

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@NB Jessica Carbon Fiber is very strong and more importantly, 'high tech' looking (for the right watch). It also does not break down with body oils/perspiration so it may last longer as well. Mostly it is the current poster child for 'high tech'. You see it on high performance cars, bikes, etc.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

@NB Jessica @MarkCarson I think carbon fibre is used primarily for how it looks and the belief that it is somehow a "futuristic" material because of its use in racing and aerospace industries.  Proof of this is that it is most commonly used cosmetically and not for parts of the watch that could exploit the structural strength of CF.  In this Bell and Ross, it is used for the dial (which doesn't need to be strong).  There are some watches that use CF for the casing but they are rare and usually more expensive than their metal counterparts.  It should also be noted that without additional special surface treatments, titanium is significantly softer and more prone to scratching than steel, while having superior strength.