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Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

Though probably best known for its more affordable, instrument-inspired pilot and field watches, French watchmaker Bell & Ross continues to assert itself as much more than a one-trick pony, with the latest addition to its BR-X “Experimental” collection: the wild Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

Standouts in this sometimes divisive collection have included the stealthy forged carbon BR-X1 (hands-on) and the more exotic Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic watch (hands-on). With its micro-rotor and ampersand-adorned flying tourbillon, the BR X2 was a step closer to this latest creation not least because it was something of a sapphire sandwich. The new Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire is like a functional hybrid of the two – but with a twist, as it uses the BR-X1 case assembled from five, very carefully carved sapphire blocks.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire is a whole hell of a long way for a brand whose humble beginnings started with tool watches (remember B&R’s watches used to be manufactured by German tool watch master Sinn), but a journey that’s gotten considerably more impressive as the Experimental line continues to find interesting ways to visually and technologically push the envelope. Sapphire crystal is more or less scratch-proof, but its hardness has made it particularly difficult to work with in anything other than very simple shapes. Technology and techniques have improved in recent years, however, with more fully sapphire-cased watches, and even prices for them beginning to come down such as with the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire (hands-on) – though they tend to remain more rare and expensive even than precious metal case watches.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

One thing that’s particularly neat about the X1 series watches, though, is that no matter how outlandish each design gets, it still carries Bell & Ross’ core design language; that square 45mm case, screwed together at each of the four corners. And though this DNA does carry through to the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire, were it not for the case signatures, this one could be mistaken for something other than a Bell & Ross watch, as the primary timekeeping cues (the hour and minute hands) have been shrunken to the upper 12:00 region of the dial. While this does give plenty of opportunity to enjoy the flying tourbillon’s movement against all the clear, negative space from the sapphire, it does detract somewhat from overall utility and legibility in comparison with the brand’s pilot and tool watches – something that other Experimental offerings have maintained.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

The steely gray lines of the 3Hz manually-wound BR-CAL.288 movement architecture cast a nicely skeletonized, industrial contrast against all the translucent elements on the watch – even the strap is translucent rubber, which should make for some interesting wrist shots. Part of the idea, besides the novelty itself of a totally transparent case, is that the movement and even the screws holding the case together are visible from about every angle. The only part of the watch that isn’t fully see-through is the large mainspring barrel itself, which provides 100 hours of power reserve, and is tucked conveniently behind the luminous hour and minute hands at 12:00, preserving some degree of legibility for timekeeping.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire Watch Watch Releases

In keeping with the more exclusive traditions of the Experimental collection, only eight pieces of the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire have been produced. However, this particular piece is now the most expensive of all the X1 offerings – even beating out the BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Rose Gold Diamond variant by a healthy margin – with an asking price for the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire of $385,000. bellross.com

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  • Framlucasse

    Interesting piece of work, but 385K$, jizzz…

    And for non hairy people only.

  • Terance Hill

    Truly amazing how little you get for 385 k.
    U B Da judge LOL

  • Ranchracer

    Dial and movement: Cool
    Case and strap: Ridiculous

  • Yan Fin
  • Tea Hound

    Needz moar cogz.

  • ” were it not for the case signatures, this one could be mistaken for something other than a watch”
    Yes, I thought it was a bicycle! But the second picture looks more like those Stanley pliers.

    You meant “something other than a Bell & Ross”.

  • SuperStrapper

    No idea who buys a 290k B&R but (flame suit firmly on) this is pretty damn cool. And id like it more if there was more movement in there. Too minimal for such a big case. Sapphire cases are polarising, but I find that the more angular ones look best over the organic shapes. Really like the Hublot one too.

  • Marius

    To be honest, I’m quite surprised as well as perplexed to see that ABTW didn’t cover the most important happening in the history of mankind and humanity: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c35a493339bbb208a76e212309bb5071b3f19f6e58499ea20f5bb00013939086.jpg
    Today, history was written. The ex boyfriend of Paul Newman’s daughter sold his Paul Newman Paul Newman Daytona for a record-breaking $17.75 million. The entire sum will be graciously donated to the “Brewmont Twins Foundation For Transparency In The Watch Industry.”

    Cara Barrett https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/acba37c85e5f07de4e4e3fee14420bf8bb8ea70b895b46a6d54a65f8931b6d56.jpg from Hodinkee described the atmosphere in the bidding room:

    “First you had the collectors, mostly made up of chic middle-aged men who walked in with the nonchalance of Newman himself. Then you had the American dealers like Eric Ku, Andrew Shear, and Matt Bain who were making the rounds with the Italian dealers (like Davide Parmegiani and Alfredo Paramico, who was decked out in Louis Vuitton x Supreme gear, it was dope) – who never seem to travel in a group of less than six; together, I like to think of them as the Rat Pack of the watch industry. Then you have the celebs, most of whom I can’t name…”

    This epic auction was run by none other than the equally brilliant Aurel Bacs. But who is Aurel Bacs? Well, Cara Barrett from Hodinkee offers the answer:

    “Over the course of his career, 46-year-old Bacs has worked at numerous major auction houses. After getting his start at Sotheby’s, Bacs moved to Phillips, and then to Christie’s in 2003. While many of the auction houses struggled to find a strong selection of consignments, Christie’s thrived under his stewardship. To put things in perspective, when he joined Christie’s in 2003 the watch department’s annual turnover was $8 million. When he left a decade later, it was $126 million.

    The Daytona Sale: Lesson One brought over 12 million Swiss Francs, but after its conclusion Bacs announced that he was leaving Christie’s. He dropped out of sight completely (and I mean completely) for about a year. Where was Aurel? When would he return? Where would he go?

    Fast forward to 2014 in Geneva. Auction season was in full swing and the biggest lot of the decade, the Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication, was about to go on the block. The bidding began, and people slowly started to raise their paddles. There was one gentleman (“the man in the red tie”) in the crowded room who raised his paddle. It was Bacs. Whispers spread across the room. “Is that Aurel? Is he back? Who is he bidding for?” The bidding continued and Bacs was victorious for his client (we still don’t know who he represented, and no it wasn’t Patek Philippe).

    And just like that, he was back.”

    • Justino Valverde

      I’m not.

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      WE SURE DID! IT WAS LIKE THE MOON LANDING IN EPIC IMPORTANCE TO THE HUMAN RACE!

    • Tea Hound

      “And then readers, I came.”

    • Tempvs Mortvvs

      They are too busy reviewing-advertising other watches. I really can’t tell when they do which. I’m that thick of mind and dumb of understanding, sorry. Or maybe they just don’t care about stuff like that auction.

    • Everything Galore, what’s not to like?

    • Sigmund Von Kavignstein

      “Alfredo Paramico, who was decked out in Louis Vuitton x Supreme gear, it was dope”

      Oh God… I really wish you made this up…
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/40b457fe49ac6bd3aac44d737d90008109cdb033f2500672cd93f99a4cd135f3.jpg

    • Juan-Antonio Garcia

      So according to the dope writer of Hodinkee the happening of the Century was not the Newman watch, but that Bacs is back. Got it.

  • Mark1884

    This seems like an interesting watch to me. I am not a skeleton or Tourbillon watch person. Having said that, I think the sapphire case is cool as hell. Sure, B&R is not the first to do that.
    But, the case design seems well suited in this piece. I would love to try this one on.

    For those of you that don’t like the sapphire case or clear strap….. I have an answer.
    Sent the watch to Bamturd. They can spray paint the case black, and then add a Rubber B strap to it.
    There, now perfect!!

    • Berndt Norten

      Take one zero off the price, and I’ll buy it.

  • Chemistman

    Lol at 385k Bell and Ross. Their pieces regularly went for 1-2k. Very aspirational indeed.

  • Glasstic looking. That’s a problem shared by all sapphire cased watches. For $385K I want a sapphire link bracelet too – no plastic strap.

    Maybe if they were ruby red or sapphire blue and shaped with more facets they might be recognized as man-made gemstones. But as is, the look like much lesser materials.

    Sure they are hard to scratch, but like a full ceramic case, I would be careful not to bang it against a hard surface that might shatter or chip it. Movement could be more interesting on this B&R. At least expose the mainspring.

    • Berndt Norten

      Glasstic fantastic lover

      • Too bad it’s not a chronograph or else you could use it to time “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds”

    • egznyc

      I was thinking the same thing: I need a sapphire bracelet for this kind of money ;-). Seriously I kind of like how audacious it is but no way …

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Bugger ! sold out !

    • So Bruno and Carlos each get one – but who were the other 6 fools?

      • Berndt Norten

        I pity them.

  • Berndt Norten

    Esaurito Luciano?

  • Bozzor

    OK, I appreciate this: I think it’s aesthetically pleasing, technically interesting and looks to be beautifully made (though I admit to being a dunce in figuring out if something is a render or just photographed brilliantly). But seriously, 385K? Maybe if this was created a few years ago…maybe. But Richard Mille, Hublot, Greubel Forsey and Bell & Ross themselves have been down the sapphire case road before. It is simply not groundbreaking anymore, even if rare. Maybe around the $200K mark there would be some justification. But at almost double that? Good luck finding the schmucks…

    • All look like renders to me. If they aren’t then I’m totally dissatisfied with the finishing on the movement. At this price it should be black polish anglage.

  • BNABOD

    Pretty darn cool looking but damn is this over priced or what ..,.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Once again I am reminded that “Just because One Can, does not mean they should.”

  • Sam Soul

    No, thanks.

  • Thomas

    Excuse me,do you have the time?
    Just give me a second, I need to get out of the sun.

  • Yanko

    There is a meaningful sentence in English language: Forget about it!

  • Pete L

    Fox’s glacier mint anyone? Maybe only the brits will get that…….

  • otaking241

    Rocking that clear strap like an 80’s vintage Swatch. That and the silly ampersand on the tourbillon make me wonder: is this the ultimate expression of hi-low-brow, like the watch equivalent of thousand dollar sweatpants? Interested to see whose wrist this winds up on…