It was late at night on the day before the Baselworld 2012 press day. I had just arrived in town and was on foot looking for someplace that was open so I could get some food. I was pretty sure that wasn't going to happen because looking for stores open at night in Switzerland is like trying to find a wild elephant wandering around Kansas. What I did find however was some advertisements for a new Bell & Ross watch I hadn't seen before. I figured that I would soon learn what it was - and it later turned out to be named the Bell & Ross WWII Bomber Regulator watch... which I just learned was re-named to be the WW2 Regulateur Heritage. Though for purposes of this article I might just keep calling it the Bomber Regulator as I like that name better. Many brands are hesitant to use any variation on the word "bomb" in their watches these days.
Since the success of the famous Bell & Ross BR01, the brand has focused a lot on the aesthetics of military watches as well as the "watchification" of military instruments and gauges. In 2012 alone we have seen watches inspired by altimeters, plane turn coordinators, and horizon indicators (see a video with all the new 2012 Bell & Ross watches being presented by the CEO here). Oh, and bomber timers. The coolest of the new crop of military instrument inspired watches from Bell & Ross is based on a World War II era stopwatch that was designed to be strapped to a bomb operator's leg. The rotating bezel, as well as pushers and crown were designed to be used with gloves while a specially trained crew member used careful timing to determine when to drop a bomb so that it would reach its target. Bell & Ross adopted the idea to create what I believe is their first ever regulator watch.
A first glance, the Bomber Regulator looks like a chronograph, but the single crown should easily remove that idea. A regulator style watch has three dials in total. Typically, the main dial is used for the minutes, while subdials are used for the hours and seconds. These watches are based on historic regulator clocks which were supposed to be highly accurate clocks people referenced in order to "regulate" other timepieces.
The dial is very legible and clear as per Bell & Ross aesthetic standards, but also has a unique aged look to it. Bell & Ross wanted the entire piece to look vintage, but also high quality. The dial is black with specs of red, that when mixed with the patina-style cream-colored markers and hands give an aged feel. Did you notice the red accent as part of the "0" indicator on the rotating bezel? The covert addition of red is a time-honored trick to making watches feel more sporty. The dial looks very cool and is complimented by the case and strap.
Deceptively sized, the Bomber Regulator is 49mm wide - but sits smaller on the wrist. The case is steel which has been done in a sort of gun-metal PVD gray and sandblasted. It really does look like a WWII tool. Bell & Ross is turning into an excellent movie prop department. The look is completed with the thick military brown calfskin leather strap.
You'll notice the lugs look like they move - well they do. The watch sits like a can on your wrist with lugs that turn down to wrap around your wrist. The onion-style crown is very well rendered and sits on the left of the case to prevent digging into your wrist. What you end up with is a very unique Bell & Ross timepiece that doesn't miss a beat when it comes to emulating the brand's DNA. A bit strange while sitting on the table - on the wrist the watch comes alive and has a very cool demeanor.
Once again it is the little details which make this Bell & Ross watch as nice as it is. The finishing on the case, the cool look of the dial colors and textures, and the use of different hand designs for each dial are all things which Bell & Ross does well. Inside the WWII Bomber Regulator is a modified Swiss ETA automatic movement. You'll notice that the back of the watch also has the feel of an instrument versus a 'mere' high-end wrist watch. That caseback is a style that I think debuted on the Bell & Ross WWI collection. The Bell & Ross WWII Bomber Regulator (WW2 Regulateur Heritage) is not a limited edition watch and will be part of the regular collection for the time being starting a bit later this year in 2012.