Bell & Ross WW1-90-S Review

Bell & Ross WW1-90-S Review

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

This is the Bell & Ross WW1-90-S, a recent model inspired by WW1-era pocketwatch conversions, where the lugs were loops of wire soldered onto the case. This one has the automatic ETA 2892 base with (I assume) either Soprod or Dubois-Dupraz modules for big date and power reserve. We first covered the Bell & Ross WW1 watch collection here.

The case is gorgeous, mirror polished and very well made indeed.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

By the numbers: 45.0mm across, 12.75mm thick at center of crystal, 52.8mm lug to lug. 93g on the strap and a 6.7mm crown. Water resistant to 50m, non-screwdown crown.

Between the all-dial style and high-polish steel case, this Bell & Ross is an attention-getting watch. In direct sunlight you can better see the curved surface of the outer dial as well as the galvanic finish. The dial design interests me: no minute markers, but big 9 and 12 numerals and a small logo. An interesting mix of empty space and purpose.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

Nice, long, well-proportioned hands make for excellent legibility. Especially with a dial this wide, you’ll read this at a glance.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

The caseback is so well made and polished that my camera focussed on the reflected wispy clouds instead of the metal. I liked the result.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

Alligator strap, signed thorn buckle with logo, two strap keepers. Note how the shape of the buckle matches the lugs; nice attention to detail.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

On the wrist, it’s… bold. In a very unusual, “I care about design and quality” sort of way.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

Nice medium-height profile, goes well with cuffed shirts.

Bell & Ross WW1 90 S Review   wrist time watch reviews

A bit closer. Note the play of light on the upper half of the dial from the dial finish and domed crystal.

With regards to functionality, it’s excellent – the big date is much easier to read (and matches the dial proportions better), the power reserve is always nice to have and the timekeeping is easily chronometer-grade. Smooth winding and setting, of course, and a lovely smooth sweep on the extra-long seconds hand.

At the MSRP of $5,500 the WW1-90 has a lot of competition. I picture it as competing with the Omega Aqua Terra, Rolex Explorer and perhaps some of the IWC flieger line. It’s a lovely, well-made watch, but that’s a lot of money. If you’re shopping in that price range, it’s a choice less ordinary that should serve you well.

12 comments
seppukusword
seppukusword

Gorgeous and my next timepiece.  I'm a Computer Engineer as well and I enjoy the simplest of timepieces that are intricately crafted and understated.  I LOVE the size of the casing as I'm a big dude and bigger watches are appealing to me.  Thanks for feeding my obsession Paul with awesome reviews and detailed explanations when new topics are covered.

village idiot
village idiot

It's beautiful. Much of our civilian technology eg internet, gps and so on  trickled down from  military  roots. This homage watch was the result of WWI soldiers neither having the time nor luxury of retrieving a pocket watch in battlefield conditions.  Converting timepieces, to be worn on the wrist, (wristwatch) a valuable  improvement. Just a bit of whimsy by accenting the  nine  on the  dial. Love the spin-off feature, (maybe deliberate?) of having a mirror on the case back.  Never know when you may have to start a fire in the bush or send morse code.  If nothing else its just plain cool. 2892 movement not shabby either.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

It looks rather like a pocket-watch for the wrist.  Beautiful case finish but it looks very large, probably because of how sparse and lacking in ornamentation the watch is.  I do appreciate minimalism but it looks like they phoned it in when it came to the design of this watch.  Usually with B&R there's some distinguishing characteristic that balances the simplicity of the dial; a mix of finishes or that famous cockpit gauge look, but this is just a uniformly shiny blob and doesn't really excite.

Maximilien
Maximilien

B&R watches are mainly about design. Like them or hate them their pieces use a unique original design language that permeates all of their models. I too wished they included in-house calibers since their price points put them in a range just shy of in-house alternatives, think: NOMOS, Omega (some models), Breitling (B01 models), or even entry-level Rolex (Explorer I), Zenith El primero... That said, I'll also be the first to admit that I own a BR03 and while not my absolute favorite watch, it never fails to put a smile in my face when I wear it. Also, it goes with just about any casual jeans outfit... Simply love it for what it is, a fashionable cool watch and I for one look forward to getting a BR02 or WW01 in future... Design matters!

Billy Beer
Billy Beer

Wow I was shocked by the last few paragraphs and an honest assessment of the practices of Bell and Ross.  I am sure they relabeled this as a BR something to make it sound as if they are actual watch makers.  Basically all their watches consist of slapping off-the-shelf pre-made movements in cases that are built to barely meet the "swiss made" standard. At $5500 this is way overpriced compared with Brietling's new chrono movement, Omega's Aqua Terra line, Grand Seiko, or Nomos.  Even companies like Bremont or Sinn, who also use ETA bases, make major modifications to their movements and do significant in-house work on their cases.  The IWC lower end lines are not in the same league due to ETA doing all the movement work.

DangerussArt
DangerussArt

$5500 ?!  Nothing wrong with a simplistic design, but its price peers slay it on value. I'd select almost anything in the Bremont collection before this. 

cluedog12
cluedog12

The reviewer does an excellent job of describing the value-added features of the case and dial. I'm not convinced the case and design are exceptional enough to justify the $5,500 MSRP, but I would understand if others saw it differently.

pls2k
pls2k

Tthe design is very simple, clean cut, which makes it an all-occasion type of watch but the price is a deal-breaker because (on my personal opinion) its movement is a (standard) ETA 2892 and trying to "spice it up" with the big date and power reserve, it still is not a manufacture movement.  Because of this I cannot see this watch series competing with the brands you mentioned.  

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

Its not bad, but shouldn't be held up on such a high pedistal: I just don't see how it can compete with the heavyweights you mentioned, and I'm not even a huge fan of them. The big date complication is placed well, but looks like it should have been 'bigger'. And the plain caseback is a dissapointment: a crystal covered one (we only have splash resistance here, so why the solid case?) With an etched "&"(etc) would have been much more logical. Lofty ambitions, these Frenchies, but this is a nice effort, and probably ranks better than some of their other recent releases.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

Maximilien I agree that "like them or hate them" applies to B&R. I can see why some people like them, but I'm not a fan. Bu them I don't care for Panerais either. Seems like the wire lugs are not even angled downward enough. Looks like a lot of "air" between the lugs and the wrist (so I'm guessing it wears large and for a 45 mm watch that makes it even more of an issue).  At least it's better than strapping an altimeter to your wrist, ha ha.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

I agree that "like them or hate them" applies to B&R watches. While I can see why they appeal to some, I'm not a fan of B&R but then I don't like the look of Panerais either.

The wire lugs don't seem to have enough downward angle. Lots of 'air' between them and the wrist. So, I'm guessing this wears even larger than its 45 mm size would indicate. I would have rather seen a '3' rather than the Bell & Ross logo at that position.

I guess it's all good if that's what you like, but as others have said, this is not exactly a good value proposition.

nateb123
nateb123

@cluedog12 Agreed.  However I do think the convex dial probably looks infinitely better in person, just like Franck Muller watches with the Cintree Curvex case do.  Seeing one of those instantly made me realize why people were willing to buy them at the price they were asking.  I suspect this will do the same.  Plus if you like this look, there are literally zero other options available.

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