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Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

There are over a half a million kilometers of coastline in the world with over 2 billion people living within earshot of said coastline – and somebody’s got to keep ‘em all safe. The Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes watches celebrate the men and women of the globe’s many branches of the Coast Guard who do just that, with a pair of sporty and capable watches that look and feel as though they’re readily up to the task.

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Now, if the V2-92 and V2-94 Garde-Côtes editions look eerily similar to the recent vintage-inspired V1-92 & V2-94 Bellytanker capsule watches that’s OK – Bell & Ross meant to do that. The ‘Vintage’ (delineated by the ‘V’ here) collection has a consistent design intent and aesthetic, which has proven to be quite popular for the French brand, so naturally we were bound to see a few more color treatments to the original three monochromatic options introduced earlier this year.

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Each measuring a more traditional 41mm, both the V2-92 and the V2-94 come in much smaller than Bell & Ross’ square-shaped 46mm BR 01, whose instrument panel inspiration has become a signature of the brand. And thanks to the one-two punch of a slim profile and a trendy, vintage-inspired aesthetic, the conservative silhouette works especially well on a wide variety of wrists too – something that should really appeal to anyone looking for an inoffensive, yet sporty alternative to the comparable, yet equally excellent Diver 65 from Oris.

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

At the asking price for Bell & Ross though, you do start to see subtle embellishments typical with watches of this price point: stuff like beveled hands, a sloping date window cutout, and snailed and recessed sub-dials on the chronograph. You also get a very generously domed sapphire crystal, and an exhibition caseback which bears a somewhat non-specific Coast Guard motif that also slightly obscures a clear look at the finishing on the movement within. For the V2-92 3-hand option, you’re looking at an automatic BR-Cal. 302, which is essentially a modified Sellita SW300-1, and on the V2-94 chronograph, the movement is Bell & Ross’ Cal. 301 – a modified ETA-2894-2.

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Both Garde-Côtes variants are available on either a traditional brushed 3-link bracelet, or a smooth, tonal grey rubber strap that matches the grey dials. Neither are the most exciting option – especially considering how this sporty aesthetic could really come to life on the wrist once complemented with a little more color, like an orange NATO or black waterproof leather with contrast stitching. Furthermore, the flat, textureless grey straps seem to call undue attention to the 22mm lugs – a slightly unflattering width for a case whose vintage-inspired lines would probably be best served with 20mm lugs.

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Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

However, the Garde-Côtes options really look the part on what Bell & Ross calls its “woven rubber strap,” which has a subtle textured embossing designed to emulate the woven ‘tropic’ straps found on many sports watches in the seventies. The end result feels a little more classic and capable, and is a better overall fit for the watch. If rubber’s not quite your speed though, the vintage collection also shines on leather straps, as we saw in the recent equally excellent Bellytanker capsule.

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Unlike the Bellytanker variants though, is how the Garde-Côtes take on a much more assertive, and sporty modern character, simply by taking a dip in a fresh coat of paint to shed the faux-vintage aesthetic. Most notably different, is the new bright orange chapter ring and matching second hand accents which nicely contrast the matte grey dials – livery inspired by the aircraft deployed by the French National Coast Guard. The dials themselves revert to the painted, luminous numerals of the original Vintage collection, rather than the applied metal indices found on the Bellytanker watches.

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

The chronograph gets one additional detail exclusive to the Garde-Côtes, not found on the other Vintage-series watches: a pulsometer in the aluminum bezel insert for measuring a patient’s heart rate, instead of the more commonly found tachymeter scale. Now, how practical this would be in a crisis situation is probably open for debate. But it’s a neat thematic touch, because let’s be honest – we weren’t all cut out to be rescue swimmers (in fact, most of us weren’t – the program is proud of its notoriously high attrition rate, which rivals that of the Navy SEALs).

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes Watches Hands-On Hands-On

The Bell & Ross Garde-Côtes collection prices start at $2,900 for the 3-handed BR V2-92 on the rubber strap, and jumps to $4,300 for the bi-compax chronograph variant. bellross.com

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  • Mikita

    I like these more than Bellytankers, actually. Grey & Orange color scheme has always attracted me in some way since I saw the BMW Concept M4 GTS. My main gripe is the crown guard on the 3-hander (was there any real need for it?) and the print on the rear crystal (plain stupid IMO). Anyway, BR V2-92 already costs $2k which isn’t that bad considering the box shape crystal: https://www.chrono24.com/bellross/vintage-br-v2-92-garde-cotes-mens-watch-brv292-ora-stsst–id7296489.htm
    And the non-limited V2-94 chrono costs around $3k and I think the Garde Cotes won’t cost any more.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c16570204f17f96c41ffb35a6f9f0e553a0876c6b416d4d38fa2aee28d5b092b.jpg

    • Solloshi B. Hawkins

      I must say I do quite like the non-chrono bellytankr.

      • Mikita

        Yor wyrst desrves bellytankr.

      • Berndt Norten

        And I like Sean Cassidy
        Da doo run run

  • Frits van der Veer

    This is how you do a date if you do not want to do it on the 3-o’clock!! Nice and horizontal, other brands should look at this!.

    • Berndt Norten

      You do your dates at 3 o’clock?!

      • Middle

        i do my dates whenever they ask

    • I agree – either make it really nice and unobtrusive (and color-match the damned wheel to the dial please!), or make it part of the design with nice framing and integration with the 3:00 indices.

  • SuperStrapper

    While B&R have certainly picked up on a winning formula with this V line, I still have a hard time with is being so un-B&R after so many years of nothing but BR series circle-in-a-square offerings.
    That aside, these do have a cohesive design and attractive aesthetics. Orange and grey is an excellent combo and just like the bellytanker, the chronograph come off as well thought out and designed, with the colour and shape matched date.
    The aluminum bezel is a big Let down, new watches shouldn’t be past this now. The bellytanker had a steel bezel which while not as attractive, will just simply hold up better over time. I’m not saying all bezel have to be ceramic now, but options better than anodized aluminum, which we can get on $100 watches, should be standard.
    While 22mm lugs are a seemingly odd choice for a 41mm watch, and 20mm would be the norm here, I like thatbtheybwebtvthisbpath because it shows they really are tryingnto promote this as a capable tool watch. 22mm on 41mm mean the watch will be very stable on the wrist and should great help to eliminate it from being a constant presence.

    I’d certainly wear one, but I don’t see myself shopping for it anytime soon.

    • Mikita

      I remember I was also kinda hesitating about the strap size when I was considering my BR123 vintage (for me the strap makes half of the watch appearance). But, actually, I appeared to be great. Bell & Ross may be not the first brand name which comes when you think about the value proposition, but they do think about their watches up into tiny details (one may even not notice them) such as:
      1) straps holding the watch with 22 mm, but tapering to 18 mm to the buckle;
      2) strap thickness was chosen to perfectly (!) match the thickness of the lugs, i.e. the strap is a natural continuation of the lugs.
      3) DLC in my model is very high quality, silk smooth and has no single mark since 2011! And it feels like ceramic IMO. They DLC-coated every single part of the watch, even the pin holes from inside.
      4) the crystal has very good AR – even though it’s box shaped, it has few distortions and allows to read time even under direct light (some of my watches don’t).
      5) the buckle is chamfered, even though it is also DLC-coated. The buckle also has no single mark for almost 7 years.
      6) 2892, while a pedestrian movement, has never let me down and I can forget when I set the watch (was it 5 month ago?..).
      7) the date window is perfectly executed – 6’clock position, creme on black (color absolutely matches the lume, one in one), chamfered edges. Very few brands really care that much about the date windows.

      Of course, Bell & Ross aren’t perfect and inflate their MSRP for sure. But as for me, they really care about details – and it flatters.

  • Ian john horwood

    This chronograph isn’t going to cut it if you put it along side the slighty more expensive venerable omega speedmaster in the general looks and satisfaction department that you would gain from the omega. Also The basic 3 hand model doesn’t cut it my eyes, as there are far nicer alternatives.

  • Yan Fin

    I actually like the Chrono version, size is acceptable, gray and orange give this retro-ish cool feeling. Cons: Transparent caseback should be considered to be a crime against good taste for such a movement finish. Price should be slashed in half. But all and all this is a step in right direction.

  • Marius

    There are over a half a million kilometers of coastline in the world with over 2 billion people living within earshot of said coastline – and somebody’s got to keep ‘em all safe. The Bell & Ross V2-94 & V2-92 Garde-Côtes watches celebrate the men and women of the globe’s many branches of the Coast Guard who do just that, with a pair of sporty and capable watches that look and feel as though they’re readily up to the task.

    It all began in the late 1990s when Bell & Ross Fournier were flying across France in their 1930’s biplane. The weather was closing in. A rough-running engine forced them to make an emergency landing. Keen to avoid the French authorities, the brothers were more than happy to accept the gracious help of the farmer whose field they had landed in. They stayed in his home, the aircraft took cover in the barn. It transpired their host had flown aircraft during the war, as well as being a gifted engineer. Half-restored wall clocks lay everywhere, together with numerous engine parts. The farmer still even wore his own father’s wristwatch. The brothers promised that his warm hospitality would never be forgotten. His name? Pierre GARDE-CÔTES.

    The concept stems from elements of nature such as air and water, which exert their force on our lives to create wind and waves. The ideas were also inspired by exhilarating sports and outdoor activities, where forces such as gravity help us to accelerate, fall, and shift our momentum. One could argue that time is also a force that acts on us constantly to push our lives in a forward direction. The blue is meant to symbolize trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence and intelligence.

  • BJ314

    When in doubt, ABTW – post whatever the new offering is from Bell & Ross. Beautiful watches. Great symmetry. Excellent colorways. Beautiful date window. Masculine caseback.

    A+

    After a week of terrible front page offerings, you’re back on track.

  • simon

    Phew….good thing they crudely did the absolute bare minimum and engraved their company name on the rotor. For a minute there I thought they just slapped an unfinished ETA movement in the case and marked it up 20 times. Seriously people…..if you are in the market for this type of thing, just get a Tudor black bay chrono, with the breitling Bo1 movement that is an integrated column wheel chronograph, and call it a day. its nearly the same money for much more watch.

    • Mikita

      I agree that B01 based Tudor is more interesting. But show me where can I get it for $3k? More likely $4.5k, which is 1/3 more.

  • Middle

    I really like these. I know nothing about the cost and value of movements, PULSOMETER is way too prominent, I’d take this to a machine shop and shave off those crown guards and I like the bracelet better than the Speedy’s.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Orange on your watch in Glasgow,……….are you mad !

    • Mikita
      • Raymond Wilkie

        MAN ! ……………….i am no longer going to be irritated by that. One shall rise above it.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Thank you. Even looking at it calms me.

    • Solloshi B. Hawkins

      –knock knock
      –Who’s there?
      –Orange
      –Orange who?
      –I don’t have a last name, like Liberace. And I’m glad I don’t live in Glasgow.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I’m not some protestant marching up and down the street with my tin whistle ( It’s a big thing here. Just another channel for the haters.)

        • IG

          Mow them with Malcolm.

  • Ranchracer

    Thanks for the review Zach, but I think the following example perfectly illustrates how broken the Swiss industry is: “At the asking price for Bell & Ross though, you do start to see subtle embellishments typical with watches of this price point:”

    Let’s see, my Detroit Watch Company 1701 Series Power Reserve, with a fantastically accurate (+/- 2 sec. per day) Miyota 9132 movement is sporting beautifully beveled and sculpted hands, a round and beveled date window (color matched to the dial), and a nicely detailed, multi-layer circular 24-hour sub-dial. The watch is completely designed and assembled in the USA, and costs a grand total of $845. Another great example is my Christopher Ward C60 GMT with an ETA 2893-2 movement that comes in just a hair over $1,000 at full retail. It has a ceramic bezel and beautiful wave perlage dial, and it’s assembled in Switzerland and has the overrated “Swiss Made” stamp on its dial, and is rated to 600 meters.

    I’m not saying that these particular watches are for everyone. My point is that these Swiss brands feel that they can charge a massive premium simply because they’re Swiss. It’s bad business. These two pieces are worth half of what B&R is asking for them. Add to that the completely annoying “tribute to something” nonsense and there’s nothing appealing about these overpriced watches.

    • …But Bell & Ross is French, does that give them a pass?
      Just kidding – you raise good points here, but remember – no one is arguing that you’re paying a heavy premium for ‘Swiss Made’ in most instances, and this is no exception.

      • Ranchracer

        Yep, I hear ya. Just wish these brands (Swiss, German, French or otherwise) would get their heads out of their backsides and come into the real world with the rest of us! ?

    • IG

      Detroit Watch Company

      • Berndt Norten

        Detroit Rock City

  • PR

    It’s all a bit too derivative looking for me, although I do like a nice light grey with a splash of color as an alternative to the usual colors. I quite like the omega PO grey/orange

    • Berndt Norten

      Oh yeah a touch of gray
      Kind of suits it
      Yes I’d say
      But then I’d find another way
      But it’s alright.

  • BNABOD

    I like them all, I dig the sporty look the recessed date, the screw in and out pushers are ultimately a pain in the arse but no deal breaker. now the price that is a huge deal breaker. I like orange and grey but Not that much and at over 4Gs this is a no way Jose

  • HectorAsuipe

    Not bad, B&R, not bad at all. Big praise for the date window. Less praise for the pulsometer bezel insert.
    When they are on the grey market (pun intended), I’ll revisit it.

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