Not every product has to be packed full of innovation to be worthwhile. Sometimes being cool is plenty. And what better way for a watchmaking company known for their aviation-inspired timepieces to cherry-pick one of fashion’s most enduring outerwear icons as inspiration for their latest piece? The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 MA-1 watch may not have the catchiest or most memorable name, but it certainly makes up for that in style points. With a colorway wholly lifted from the famous shell and lining combo associated with the MA-1 flight jacket, it will stand out in a crowd. In fact, it is as relatively arresting as the inspirational garment was designed to be: The real reason for the bright orange lining of these military green flight jackets was so they could be turned inside out and used to attract attention should the pilot have been forced to eject or make an emergency landing (or simply nosedived into a desert island outside of Verizon’s range).
As with most iconic items of clothing, the longevity of the item is thanks to its inherent functionality. Whether the same color scheme will run for so long or anywhere near so well on a watch, however, is very much ‘up in the air’.
Brand: Bell & Ross
Model: BR 03-92 MA-1
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: Khaki green ceramic
Movement: BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300 base)
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Reversible khaki/orange calfskin leather and ultra- resilient synthetic fabric.
Price & Availability: Limited to 999 pieces, priced at $3,900
This watch is as much a fashion item (probably a lot more, actually) as it is a serious horological instrument. The styling is quintessential Bell & Ross and the storytelling is on point for the brand. Caliber BR-CAL.302. is really code for the self-winding Sellita SW300. With a Sellita movement inside the ceramic green case, there is little in the way of mechanical interest, but at least the SW300 is a solid beater movement that shouldn’t cause you any problems. It is the Sellita version of the ETA 2892, and a far more elegant movement than the SW200 (based on the ever-popular ETA 2824). The SW300 is a full millimetre slimmer, which helps keep this would-be bulky watch down to wearable dimensions.
Pleasingly, as aesthetically-led as this piece is, it does still fulfil the original remit for all aviators’ watches, by being highly legible. Thos large, orange, stencilled numbers are also luminous so the instrument-style timepiece should not have to abandon its post after the sun goes down.
Although this release is incredibly superficial, I love it. I’ve wanted an MA-1 jacket for years, and could very much see myself lusting over this limited edition Bell & Ross in the same way. The coolest thing about the model has to be the reversible strap. Although I doubt I’d ever wear it orange-side-up, the nod to the genuine purpose of the MA-1 jacket is very, very astute. With only 999 pieces being made, I think Bell & Ross got this one right on the money. I doubt these will fly off the shelves at the asking price of $3,900, but I am sure they will be steady movers over the next couple of years and sell out entirely before too long. Learn more at bellross.com