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Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches

Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches Watch Releases

When it comes to iconic designs, I would posit that the Bell & Ross BR03 series is certainly up there.  I mean, if you see a square-cased aviator, who do you think produced it?  Bell & Ross, that’s who.  So, when it came time to release some new stuff for Baselworld 2016, the brand came up with a new iteration (three of them, actually) – the Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type, which the brand claims is based on the sand colored outfits of Air Force pilots on desert missions.

Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches Watch Releases

Now, for those well-versed in the brand, you may be ready to put the brakes on this train, as there already has been a Bell & Ross Desert Type.  And you would be correct, there was one, in the form of a 250 piece limited edition.  This latest version is a better-looking version, in my opinion.  We still keep the desert camouflage color scheme, which sees the black ceramic case paired to a khaki dial and leather strap.  The inclusion of the sandwich dial used here looks great, and adds a layer of depth to the watch.

Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches Watch Releases

With the sandwich dial, the Bell & Ross Desert Type is giving a nice bit of dimensionality to an otherwise flat dial, as well as giving the opportunity (which I really hope they took major advantage of) for some serious lume application on the lower level.  Also changed on the dial is the removal of four screws that (I presume) held the dial in place.  This gives things a much cleaner look, and we are simply left with the four (functional) screws on the case itself.  By keeping the text to a minimum, Bell & Ross really managed to clean the dial up on the Bell & Ross Desert Type, and I think that goes a long way towards their design direction of legibility and just plain usability.

Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches Watch Releases

For this latest iteration of the Bell & Ross Desert Type, there are actually three different models being introduced.  The smallest version is the BRS Desert Type, which comes in at 39mm and has a quartz movement, BR-CAL.102.  The other two models measure in at 42mm, with the three-hander BR 03-92 powered by a BR-CAL.302 automatic, and the chronograph  BR 03-94 opting for BR-CAL.301.  Other than the size and movement differences, these watches are all identical with ceramic cases, leather straps, sapphire crystals, and a 100m water resistance rating.

Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches Watch Releases

I will be the first to admit, the wider Bell & Ross catalog can be a bit difficult to tell apart, as there are minor variations across a basic design.  That said, it does also speak to the strength (and popularity) of the design that it can be iterated in this fashion, with minor changes (such as a sandwich dial) mixed in to freshen things up.

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Bell & Ross BR-03 Desert Type Collection Watches Watch Releases

Then again, I’ve long been a fan of this particularly iconic design, and have a thing for sandwich dials as well, so it was really a winning formula for me.  I’m sure if you, dear readers, disagree with me, you won’t be shy to speak out in the comments below, and I welcome that.  For now, I think the dial on the Bell & Ross Desert Type is my favorite to-date from the brand.  No, the color palette may not be the most visually exciting, but it fits the theme and should make for a fairly flexible (if casual) watch. Bell & Ross haven’t released pricing information yet, but we will let you know as soon as they do.  bellross.com

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  • IanE

    I really like those sandwich dials – making the watch feel even more like a square Panerai!

  • Marius

    Desert Type is a very fitting name indeed: just take this watch to the desert and leave it there. Nobody will miss it.

  • iamcalledryan

    I own a BR03 and think this one is nice, but the sandwich dial, as already pointed out, is unnecessarily Pan-esque.

    The phantoms are great, otherwise it’s the basic steel models for me!

  • Raymond Wilkie

    For a start, its not a iconic design, its a stolen design. Secondly ive never liked this brand ( ratio to buck I feel am being short changed ).My continued argument about wonky screws……….I’ll just pass on this. .

    • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

      Actually on these pictures the screws are aligned 😉 Probably the production pieces will be different though.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Straight or Horizontal

    • iamcalledryan

      Stolen as in stolen from a cockpit???

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Yes

        • iamcalledryan

          Being that people can’t wear cockpit dashboards B&R did something pretty cool to bring the aesthetic into the wrist. Far more inventive than many others. The style is not for all, but it is distinct and original for a watch.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Distinctive and original for all the wrong reasons. Can i just add, it’s really boring to look it.

          • iamcalledryan

            Wrong and boring in your personal opinion, not in the opinion of the many who love them.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Of course its only my option. Everyone is free to express it. If it clashes with your opinion , thats too bad.

          • iamcalledryan

            Likewise, when you say something is stolen – expect a fact-check! Originality of design was the single reason for B&R’s success.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Where is the originality in their design ? Inspired would be a better word. I know its only semantics but their is a difference.

          • iamcalledryan

            It’s quite easy to take the design for granted being that they launched the BR01 over a decade ago.

            https://monochrome-watches.com/bell-ross-celebrates-10-years-of-br01-the-square-watch-that-became-an-icon/

            The fact that there was absolutely nothing like it in terms of a wristwatch is the very definition of originality and B&R’s existence today is still owed to the momentum of that originality.

            Pretty much every single watch is “inspired” by something – 90% of them conform to the same case shape, a choice of about 5 hand styles, a couple of numeral and marker options. It’s the same reason that we have more than one “iconic” three-register chronograph out there. You do not have to reinvent the wheel to be iconic, and you do not have to steel to take inspiration. The fact that they took inspiration from an instrument rather than another timepiece makes them more original than most.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Goodness your like a dog with a bone. You cant be inspired and original at the same time and as far as being iconic well some folks like myself dont like boring looking square faced watches “inspired ” by a plane control panel. Sure i can spot one a mile away ,…..so what. I dont like them. Moving on,……….

          • iamcalledryan

            Move on but you’re wrong! Arguably you can’t be inspired by a watch to make another original watch, but to be inspired by something that is NOT A WATCH in order to design a completely original looking watch is absolutely original. You might not like it, but you are failing to prove it as unoriginal.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Can i get the last word in ?

  • Their square watches all look like something one would find on a kitchen appliance. In my humble opinion, there is only one Bell and Ross worth owning – the flyback GMT.

    • DanW94

      That’s a good looking watch, but I’d love to own this cigar inspired LE from them….

    • Coert Welman

      Pretty. Very, very pretty.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    I like the B&R design, but not a fan of this specific color scheme. But I appreciate that they managed to match the date wheel and the dial, which some manufacturers who price their watches ten times above this “forget” to do.

  • funNactive

    Expensive watches that have a military design/feel don’t make sense to me. Just give me a Luminox for that purpose. I want my high end watch to look high end.

  • Roger Goodgion

    When Panerai does it ( all watches basically the same with an ETA movement and some small variation but well executed and attractive), man do people gush. B&R do it, nothing but hate. I like both those brands equally.

  • word-merchant

    Hello abtw, when you review watches could you tell us the actual movement in use? We all know that B&R calling their movement a BR-CAL.302 is disingenuous because it’s really just a base Selitta, an ETA or a Valjoux, but it’d be helpful and transparent to know exactly what off-the-shelf calibre has been used here. These manufacturers shouldn’t be allowed to go on hiding this shameful little secret and you should be part of the solution.

    • iamcalledryan

      I wouldn’t say B&R are “hiding this shameful little secret” considering they name the watches BR03-92 after the ETA 2892 and the BR03-94 after the ETA 2894-2.

      I doubt many people that care about it are fooled by what has become an almost universal convention to put minor embelishments or construct an ebauche and give it an “in-housey” name.

      You do have my vote for more transparent movement identification. Then let’s get the accuracy stats on the table.

  • word-merchant

    Panerai get called out in this too – but they now use more of their own in house movements. B&R buy everything in, then try to hide the fact. Both brands are priced absurdly.

  • Twinbarrel

    The softer side of Bell & Ross. I bet you these will be very popular.

  • Larry Holmack

    Coming from a family full of military people…I really like the watch. I could never afford one…but that is okay.

  • I like B&R, especially the squareness. The chrono triggers are large enough to hit while wearing gloves and flying. The countersunk dial with huge numbers is highly visible and attractive too. All told, an elegant piece of engineering and design.

  • BNABOD

    don’t mind the chrono could handle the “desert type” deleted. it is a B&R is is square it is bold it is not my thing but to each is own.

  • Marius

    Ah, Bell&Ross! I remember, the first time I saw a Bell&Ross was in 2008, in Berlin, at the Quartier206 store, a boutique selling designer clothes. Now, in those days I wasn’t the watch expert and authority that I am now, but even so, I somehow knew that a watch brand selling it’s products in clothing boutiques should be avoided at all costs.

    So, dear readers, here is my advice for you: avoid Bell&Ross at all costs! It’s about as interesting and original as a Hello Kitty watch inspired from Hello Kitty herself.

  • William

    Very nice B&R! I have to say the font for the hours very much struck me as reminiscent of Panerai. Not a criticism as I enjoy their offerings as well.

  • Fooman

    Could this be the last dieing gasp of the Square B&R? 3 local watch shops to me have them all on heavy discount as they are just out of style, admit it when you first saw them years ago you liked them, but you had that nagging feeling that they would eventually go out of style. That day has come.

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