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Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross has made a name for itself with its aviation-inspired timepieces. The brand proudly proclaims that on-board aviation instruments are its guiding force, and it has been very successful in incorporating the theme into wristwatches. Today, the square case and round dials of its BR aviation-inspired watches are instantly recognizable, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the look is a modern horological and cultural icon. That said, Bell & Ross refuse to be limited by stereotypes, and its latest watches see it drawing inspiration from the open seas. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you the new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine.

The Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine watch is part of the company’s new Marine Instrument collection. And in the words of Bell & Ross themselves, they are “temporarily leaving runways, radars and fighter planes” and heading for the open water.

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

The new Marine Instrument collection will be headlined by three very special, limited-edition watches. There’s the simple time-only Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine, the partially skeletonized BR-X1 Instrument De Marine Chronograph, and finally the ultra-complicated BR-X1 Tourbillon Chronograph Instrument De Marine. All three are unique and very different from Bell & Ross’ usual offerings, but the one we are interested in today is the time-only Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine.

The first thing that strikes you about the new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is that it features the iconic BR 01 case – the case that we all know and love. But look closer and you’ll realize that not all is what it seems. In fact, the case is constructed using three different unconventional materials.

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

To begin with, the large 46mm-wide case, bezel, and crown are made using bronze. The choice of bronze is obvious as it is the metal that is most associated with the sea. In case you don’t already know, bronze is widely used in marine applications because it naturally forms a patina which protects the underlying bronze metal from corrosion. Look closer still, and around the periphery of the case is a band made of rosewood. Like bronze, wood is another material closely associated with the sea. And finally, the case back is made of titanium – again, a material ideal for marine applications as it is highly resistant to corrosion. It is also hypoallergenic, which makes it great for contact with skin as bronze has the propensity to stain skin.

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Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

The case is well-constructed and expertly finished, and the design is one that we have all come to know and love. It’s a simple design, but it is powerful and very attractive. And while it may be a big square case, it isn’t overly thick, so it wears quite well on the wrist. The wearing comfort was also aided by the comfortable brown alligator strap. The strap comes with a matching bronze buckle, which is a nice touch. That said, I think the large Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine case works best on owners with chunkier wrists. Like other BR 01 watches, the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is also water resistant to 100 meters.

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

The next thing that catches all your eye is probably the brilliant white dial, which is actually lacquer – an unusual dial material for Bell & Ross watches. What’s also unusual is the use of Roman numerals, railroad-style indexes, and blued pear-shaped hands, which pays homage to marine clocks of the past. These design elements give the dial an old-world charm, but it takes getting used to because the BR 01 case is usually associated with aviation-inspired designs, which tend to be more modern. Nevertheless, it’s a harmonious look, and I especially like the blued steel hands and the whiteness of the lacquer dial.

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

There’s a subdial for the running seconds at 6 o’clock, and in the middle of the subdial it reads CAL. 203. That would be a reference to the calibre BR-CAL.203 that beats within. It’s visible through the sapphire case back, and it’s a hand-wound mechanical movement. The choice of a hand-wound movement is apt because marine clocks of the past were also manually wound. It beats at 3Hz and features a suitably long power reserve of 56 hours.

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Though Bell & Ross doesn’t say it, the BR-CAL.203 is likely the ubiquitous Unitas 6497. A tried-and-tested hand-wound movement that sees action in many other watches. In the case of the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine, it has been simply finished with brushed and darkened bridges and blued screws. It looks very industrial, and if I were to nitpick, I would have preferred a more elaborately decorated movement to suit the rest of the watch. As it is, the dial of the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is definitely more intricate than most of Bell & Ross’ other offerings, and I think a more classically decorated movement with chamfered bridges, Côtes de Genève, or perlage would be more suitable.

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine Limited Edition Watch In Bronze, Wood, & Titanium Hands-On Hands-On

The new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine marks an interesting departure from the brand’s usual aviation-inspired pieces, and the end result is certainly intriguing, if not attractive. I don’t think everyone is going to be a fan of it, but if you like watches like the Ulysses Nardin Marine collection, then I think the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine will be an interesting alternative, as it mixes the classic look of marine-inspired watches with Bell & Ross’ signature BR case. If you like the look of it, you’d best hurry because the Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine is limited to just 500 pieces. Price is $8,700. bellross.com

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  • word-merchant

    Given B&R buy up €30 movements, give them a new name and then, I presume, quietly hope customers will think it’s all in house, could I buy up a few of these B&R watches myself, paint the cases ‘nautical grey’, change the dial wording to Word & Merchant, jack up the price and thus make my fortune?

    • Sure, until your one trick pony case design stops selling well (which appears to be what happened to B&R starting a couple of years ago).

      • word-merchant

        interesting, I didn’t know B&R have had a sales collapse as I didn’t realise they ever sold that well in the first place. I’ve only ever seen one person ever wearing a B&R. He had it on his left wrist and an Apple Watch on his right. It wasn’t a look that spoke to me.

        • I saw a young teller at the bank today wearing an Apple Watch. I asked him what is used it for. I was honestly curious to know how real people use them. He said he has some busy days and likes receiving reminder notifications on his watch which he says is more convenient than pulling out his phone for them. I think it was the smaller size one, black with wire lugs on a black strap or bracelet. Low key enough that it didn’t look that bad.

        • Gokart Mozart

          At least he wore the real watch on the correct wrist. if you see the guy again maybe you should let him know that Sinn can solve his predicament with there “innovative” strap system.

  • Had it been COSC certified they could have had “Chronometer” on the dial instead of Cal. 203. It would have made more sense.

    Still, I like the watch, somehow it works fine with the square shape of the case.

    • I think from re-reading the post that the chronometer is the BR-X1 (which does not have photos here). Can’t see that they claim this BR 01-CM is a chronometer mi amigo.

      • What I mean to say is that being a hommage to Marine Chronometers, and in particular -as Carlos Rosillo told me- to John Harrison’s chronometers, the movement should have been COSC certified. Actually non of the three movements are chronometers, for what I read in the press release.

        • If I was a buying man, I’d be more inclined towards the Ulysee Nardin Maxi Marine line. This post said that one of the 3 new B&Rs is supposed to be a chronometer. Interesting that Carlos said they should have been COSC certified (which I take to mean they are not). Too bad with the look they are going for and the price point.

          • Mark, my English is acting up today and I am not getting the message out as it should. What Carlos said is that it was a homage to John Harrison. That’s why I say it should have been COSC certified.

          • So “should have been” but is not? Or is but is not marked as such on the dial?

          • It should have been but is not. Buenas noches my friend :0)

          • I agree, really should have been.

  • Interesting that they say it runs at 3 Hz as unless it has a modified assortment, a bone stock ETA 6498 runs at 2.5 Hz (18,000 bph). BTW – the 6497 is the original pocket watch layout: crown at 12, small seconds at 6 which when rotated for crown at 3 gives you small seconds at 9 (Panerai does this a lot). In this case, the 6498 variant of the 6497 has the crown at 3 with small seconds at 6.

    A little hard to tell from the photos, but B&R may have anglage on the plates. Otherwise, not much here to justify the nearly $9K price as far as the movement goes.

    The bronze case is already dinged and scratched in the photos and I would not expect the wooden section of the case to hold up very long. But on a positive note, I really like the dial and hands. The rest of it is just more overpriced B&R stuff in a case I’m not crazy about (except perhaps in smaller sizes – which is a challenge with a movement that has a 37.2 mm diameter but they could have done 42 – 44 mm if they tried).

    • Mark, there are already 6497 and 6498 movements that run at 3 Hertz. And no, no anglage whatsoever.

  • Luciano

    At least Panerai only charges $5k for watches with the 6497/6498 movement. 🙂

    • word-merchant

      Yes, but unlike B&R, Panerai have no nautical or naval history to fall back on. Oh wait…

      • Yeah, they trot out that tired old photo of Italian frogmen emerging from the water. Except that they are wearing a compass, not a watch, made by Panerai.

  • Shirley Furby

    No that would be no as in I wouldn’t purchase it at half the price. I actually like the look, don’t think the wood “would” be durable. Price, come on I didn’t fall off the turnip truck on the way to reading this blog.

  • I like this, aside from the fact that my wrist can only take a BR03. I am surprised by how much this works aesthetically, but then the chaps at BR have always been pretty deft with design.

    It may be a fairly stock movement with some work on the bridges but it’s still gorgeous, one of my all time favorites. Sure you can push for an in house at that price point and I would certainly expect it from a more integrated house, but I think the price here is being squeezed from the limited run more from the standalone package, which is nice but ought to be more like 6k.

  • SuperStrapper

    Strange…

    I like the look concept, but I’m not that impressed overall because I think the big square takes away from the final product. Wouldn’t teak have been a better wood to use than rosewood, considering the nods to olde timey nautical stuff?

    I look forward to seeing the other models in this lineup.

    • The chronograph is interesting but IMO a step too far away from the design brief.

  • Best dial and handset I’ve ever seen on a B&R. Normally I think of the Aviation series resembling a pizza box. This is a big improvement. But the wood is going to scratch, ding, chip out, and dry up over time. So down the road, you are going to have a dark bronze case top and a dried out light wood band. Kind of like an old, uncared for wooden boat. I would take another look at it with an all bronze case. With the wood labor steps removed, it should be more affordable.

  • Bill W

    But wouldn’t the little piece of skin that touches the bronze buckle get stained? What I’m really saying is, “Wood buckle, baby!”

  • Marius

    Ladies and gentleman, Aaron Sigmond is back! This time, he speaks through his apprentice Kenny Yeo.

    This ad…I mean article starts by arguing that: “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you the new Bell & Ross BR 01-CM Instrument De Marine.” This sounds promising, so let’s read on. “…it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the look is a modern horological and cultural icon.” Well, I talked with my friends in Paris, and to my great surprise, I found out that NOT EVEN ONE has heard anything about this “cultural icon.” What’s more, I have never actually seen a person wear a B&R in real life.

    The article continues by stating that these watches “…are unique and very different from Bell & Ross’ usual offerings.” Sure, they are so unique that they’re having the EXACT same case as all the other B&R models. The only thing the jokers from B&R “changed” and by that I mean blatantly copied from Ulysse Nardin, is the dial. Also, the fact that B&R is using a $50 movement in a $9,000 watch is not really a problem; it’s just a “niptick.”

    Lastly, the article argues that this B&R could be an alternative to the Ulysse Nardin Marine collection. Now hold on for a sec.! Ulysse Nardin is actually a highly respected brand, with real history, great designs, and some serious in-house calibers. More importantly, for the exact same price of this crappy B&R you could actually buy an Ulysse Nardine Marine chronometer with a very good in-house caliber. So why would I opt for the B&R? Arguing that this B&R is an alternative to the Ulysse Nardin Marine is like arguing that Lada Niva is an alternative to Range Rover.

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      My Fellow Horological God,

      I am shocked to learn from your post that Kenny Yeo is the apprentice of Aaron Sigmond who has just become my intern on my blog! And let me tell you, Siggy has a LOT to learn about washing cars.

      You make some fine points and it is indeed difficult to argue with the genius of Bell & Howell in using $50 movements in $9000 watches … and not even having to spend more than an afternoon designing it. And to have the apprentice of my intern compare it to, who was the maker again, oh, Ulysse Nardin, well, that makes Bell & Howell shine even brighter, doesn’t it?

      You have made my morning, good sir!

      The HO
      Official Horologist to President Trump

      • Bill W

        Quit talking to yourself, guy(s?)
        And it’s Belle & Sebastian….

    • Framlucasse

      Well, you’re right when you tell this watch is nothing like UN, overpriced like crazy, ok.
      But if your friends from Paris tell they don’t know B&R, they’re liers (or maybe you are), or they know nothing about watches…
      And yes, in a way, BR01 and BR03 are (kind of) icons. Not like the Sub ot the Speed, ok. But for a brand who only exist since 20/25 years, B&R is doing a good job.

      A parisian (too)

    • Timestandsstill

      Although I’ll agree with much, if not most, of your post, and I love UN and own two myself, they did not exactly originate the marine chronometer dial that is expressed here and in the UN Marine Chronometer and Maxi Marine lines….. these have been around for a couple hundred years and you can dozens if not hundreds of examples online of early marine chronometers https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d051c0dad13fd7943e87f9da3330a65eae8bc9371e1340437a46b7cf9f2c6a6.jpg

    • Timestandsstill

      Although I’ll agree with much, if not most, of your post, and I love UN and own two myself, they did not exactly originate the marine chronometer dial that is expressed here and in the UN Marine Chronometer and Maxi Marine lines….. these have been around for a couple hundred years and you can find dozens if not hundreds of examples online of early marine chronometers

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f77a3506d60933b8646f4335e6f499422c0f776810ee558acafeaacec99b81f3.jpg

  • DanW94

    The aviation themed BR case design actually works perfectly here, mimicking the square design of the marine chronometer boxes. I really like the movement and prefer the brushed, dark bridges to say the Geneva striping. It’s a tad large at 46mm. Overall, very nice.

  • BNABOD

    no idea how long the ring of wood will last when it hits the first door handle it encounters but I doubt it will be pretty. No doubt it takes some effort to get wood to wrap around the case , the dial is nicely done but the watch is still too big and the price is let’s just say ambitious for such a basic movement. kind of reminds me of the earlier Panerai days with the not in house movement and high prices.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    i wonder if it floats?

  • Jerry Mathers

    Does the box come with a pair of B&R branded tweezers for splinters?

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    A tip of the hat to Bell & Howell and this remarkable economy of manufacture and sheer profit margin triumph!

  • Berndt Norten

    with the ‘aviation’ theme the BR look makes sense. But this is a split personality design. The case is too loud for the dial. They don’t mix.

  • Larry Holmack

    As a guy with a “chunkier wrist”….I rather like this one.

  • ZBT71

    A beautiful watch that is absolutely useless to me due to its enormous size. Bring this down to a 40 X 40mm size and it would be perfect.

  • Wait….wood? Rosewood, like…from “In general, world stocks are poor through overexploitation” (Wikipedia) trees? No wonder it’s such a ridiculous price, but then I thin all B&R watches are.

    • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

      “Rosewood” is a renewable resource.
      I would much prefer unicorn-fur straps.

      • Yeah, I was thinking it might be worth the price if it had some conflict diamonds in the bezel.

  • cg

    Are you kidding? B&R is it’s own stereotype! OMG! The watch elitest had a coronary when they did a round watch and broke they’re own stereotype. Didn’t last long as a major venue for the brand. Still makin’ those square headed things and with silly Roman Numerals too. One question: How do you deploy the life vest on this floater?

  • A_watches

    Wow, what a horrible watch..completely pointless

  • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    IMO, this would be much better as a desk clock.

  • ??????

    While their square watches are most famous, I love their round BR123 line. Actually, it is one of the best watch in my collection: super legible, super comfort on the wrist and with great domed (very domed) sapphire. At the same time never understood this square br01 et al. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67c8bce6292ce7193f9da5e9c8bc8269d0423268b19fadd8ddb9c1abbcc32d8d.jpg

  • Horlogère Addict

    Overpriced wrist clock.

  • Framlucasse

    8700$! Only? 😀

  • david

    Ugly watch and ever……. But I am sure there will have some stupid people will but it.

  • IVA the LT

    I love how this was reviewed, right around the Tissot give away.

    Can buy one watch for about $1,000, the other for nearly 9 times that, and they have the same movement…

  • Wandi Marco

    8700USD means over 10k SGD for a watch with Unitas 6497 inside…. that is really2 ambitious You must be a die hard, true blue B&R fan boy to buy this piece.

  • hatster

    I happily own a Bell & Ross. Mine, however, doesn’t look like a Kickstarter campaign. I think, perhaps, they have taken ‘marine influence’ a little too far on this one? You would need wrists the size of The Rock’s biceps to make this look like you picked the right size watch.

  • GGPR

    Several people have referenced Bell and Howell. That is a separate company. This watch is from Bell & Ross.

  • otaking241

    No. Just—no. Overwhelming contradictions emanating from this piece. Avant-garde square case with aviation-inspired details matched with lacquer (looks like enamel to my eye) dial that would look more at home on a grandfather clock (with blued hands!). Handwound movement finished in industrial grey. Bronze and (ultra durable) rosewood with titanium caseback. Just a big, fat mess. All it needs is a black altimeter date at the 3 position to complete the cluster. Gag gag gag gag gag.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    Looks painful on the wrist, not to mention to the eyes. Never understood who would buy this wanna be avionics/watch tingy. Looks like a cheap toy from a Happy Meal.