November 9, 2016
by Ariel Adams
Look closely, and you’ll notice a new GMT watch from Bell & Ross for 2016. I’ve appreciated the brand’s refined and legible GMT watches for a while, and this newest model is actually a melding of various watches from the brand’s modern history. So now let’s take a look at the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT that I think a lot of people are going to enjoy. Before we dive into it, allow me to share two watches which, in my opinion, are the inspiration for it.
First, let me remind you that the Bell & Ross BR03 case is the smaller 42mm-wide cousin of the larger 46mm-wide BR01. While the BR01 has the “grandest” wrist presence, according to Bell & Ross, a lot more people prefer the wearability of the 42mm-wide BR03. Don’t neglect to consider the important fact that this is a square rather than round watch which means it looks a lot larger on the wrist.
When Bell & Ross first debuted the BR01 “Instrument,” the watch case was directly inspired by cockpit instrument clocks and gauges inside of airplanes. The now iconic look has been tested through countless (really) iterations, which Bell & Ross continues to refine today. The collection of their square watches consist of the larger 46mm-wide BR01, the medium 42mm-wide BR03, and the smaller 39mm-wide BR S.
In polished and brushed steel, the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT has a dressier look than many of the all-matte-finished models Bell & Ross produces. This lends itself well to wearing, especially when Bell & Ross matches the case with the right dial design. Let me go back for a moment and remind you of the two watches I feel directly inspired the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT. First is the classic Bell & Ross BR 01-93 GMT (aBlogtoWatch review here), and second is the round-cased Bell & Ross BR 123 GMT (hands-on here). Together, and including other elements of BR01 and BR03 watch design from over the years, Bell & Ross creates a new and very pretty sport GMT watch design.
Rolex also deserves some credit here, actually. That is where Bell & Ross got the design of the orange-colored GMT hand along with its physical style. Just look to some Rolex Explorer II watches of old. The hint of color lends itself well to what is otherwise a more formal-looking sport watch. What I mean by that is that, in addition to being a durable “activity watch,” the level of fit and finishing here makes it a status and lifestyle indicator as well as a wearable tool.
The hour and minute hand set is a nice combo of styles that takes into consideration a range of aviation cockpit styles as well as various designs from Bell & Ross over the years. The hands are polished and faceted, as well as applied with Super-LumiNova luminant. Note that the different shape of the hour and minute hand should lend itself to optimal legibility. In fact, none of the four hands on the dial look anything remotely like one another, which should make for a timepiece that is really readable.
Bell & Ross correctly chose flat, brushed applied hour markers which contrast well against the black face. The dial also feels like the right mixture between busy and sparse. There is nothing extra on the dial, but it isn’t left feeling boring or spartan. Bell & Ross designers cleverly integrated the date via a small round window (with a matching black date disc) between 4 and 5 o’clock. Around the dial is a fixed steel bezel which has the 24 hour markers on it (and is another subtle nod to Rolex design).
Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2893-2 automatic GMT movement. I like that Bell & Ross is among the few companies that doesn’t rename the base movements it uses. Thus, the “93” part of the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT name is a clear indicator to watch-knowledgeable people of what the movement inside of the watch is. I’ve always respected Bell & Ross for that practice. It isn’t even that they are doing anything particularly great, but rather that in comparison to many other watch brands that attempt to disguise base movements with names, Bell & Ross isn’t doing anything wrong.
On the wrist, the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT wears handsomely, not feeling small, but not overpowering one’s frame. Though, if you do have very thick wrists, you might want to compare how the BR03 and BR01 cases look on your body. Bell & Ross matches the contrast-polished steel case with a glossy black leather calfskin strap. Bell & Ross also apparently includes a black canvas strap with the watch as well. A good-looking and versatile watch, this reference BR0393-GMT-ST/SCA Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT watch has a retail price of $3,700. bellross.com