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Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On day one of Baselworld 2017, one of the most interesting new watches I saw was the Bell & Ross BR X2 Micro-Rotor Automatic. With a new case, movement, and provocative design, this circa $65,000 limited-edition watch is a lovely testament to why we like wearing bold designs with conspicuous mechanical movements. Bell & Ross president Carlos Rosillo was wearing it at Baselworld’s Bell & Ross stand, enthusiastically showing it off – Mr. Rosillo gets more excited about his new products than almost any brand leader I know.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

He asks me (probably rhetorically), “what is the most important part of a wristwatch?” I’m pretty sure I know he wants me to say “the movement,” so I do. “Yes,” and he proceeds to explain to me how the design philosophy of the BR X2 watch is all about removing what appears to be the separation of case and movement, instead melding it into one visual object. Thus, with a steel movement plate between two thick layers of carefully machined sapphire crystal, there is a transparent sapphire case that connects directly to the movement. The effect is both visually stunning and rather novel.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross does this entirely for visual spectacle – and it seems to work. When I last encountered a concept similar to this, it was in the Piaget 900P (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here) which merged the movement plate and watch case in order to make the thinnest mechanical watch movement in the world. While the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is actually thinner-feeling than the brand’s other square-cased “Instrument” watches, it isn’t about breaking size records. More importantly, it is about looking darn cool while also being something movement nerds can faithfully stand behind.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross worked with the Swiss movement maker MHC in order to produce the movement inside of the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic. The movement is, for the most part, simple (for a tourbillon) and satisfying, offering the time with tourbillon as the seconds indicator, and automatic winding via a micro-rotor which can be seen on the rear of the movement. Bell & Ross uses their now signature ampersand logo on the cage over the variable inertia balance wheel tourbillon mechanism. The tourbillon is decidedly wide in diameter in order to offer an expansive view on the dial.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Gerald Genta-style hands and matching hour markers are tastefully placed on the top part of the movement bridge. These hands and hour markers are made a bit distinctive due to their size and coloration. While they are filled with Super-LumiNova luminous material, I feel that the satin-finishing of the hands blends in a bit too much with the dial in order to have ideal contrast for excellent legibility. The watch is rather legible when you look closely at it, but as is the case with many “artistic and complex” watches, legibility stands back a bit in favor of pure aesthetic expression.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Looking at the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic case from various angles allows you to appreciate the interesting detailing and beveled edges of the sapphire crystal case top and rear. Clearly, the case is inspired by Bell & Ross’ now iconic BR01 and BR03 collection of square-cased watches. With that said, the case is actually a totally new size, even though it is based on the BR03 – which is 42mm wide. The Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is 42.5mm wide, so that’s only a slight difference.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

There are so many ways in which a design such as this could have gone wrong – but I credit Bell & Ross’ serious attention to design detail for making something like the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic work as well as it does. I think it requires a mixture of insisting on various design elements (such as the hour track ring on the dial to help emphasize the watch face) as well as restraint in not adding too much to the overall case and movement design.

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Best of all, with its 42.5mm-wide square case and thin profile, the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is a rather comfortable timepiece making it totally acceptable for daily wear. This debut model (I have a feeling this is a concept Bell & Ross will return to in years to come) is placed on a tapered light gray alligator strap. What I think is most impressive about the overall look of the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is that it is decidedly a watch for mechanical movement lovers, but is able to retain a masculine sex appeal and does not look nerdy (as concepts such as this tend to do).

Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The 2017 Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is the reference BRX2-MRTB-ST, and is a limited edition of 99 pieces. Available in Q2 2017, the retail price is $64,900 USD. bellross.com

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Comments

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  • ??????

    Very unusual: exciting and kinda stupid at the same time. The shape of sapphire makes it a stunner, but the front skeletonization looks unnecessary since there is almost nothing to look at. Personally, I would have preferred this stunning sapphire front combined with beautiful solid dial with some pattern or special color, etc.
    P.S. Love the micro-rotor!

  • ProJ

    AA,

    Can you make us all a favor and make a visit already to Seiko’s booth?

    Thanks,

    ABTW Readers

    • IG

      All? I couldn’t care less about Seiko.

      • ProJ

        Fine, the majority of us.

    • ??????

      Absolutely agree 🙂 the Prospex Diver SLA017 is on my wish list already! And the new GS.. go to my grail list.

  • gw01

    The dial feels a bit unfinished and unpolished, to be a tourbillon (a $65k tourbillon); at the same time seems to have some aesthetic resemblance with a smart watch of sorts. Bell & Ross is in a league of their own, in design terms, with the square (rectangular) cases. I’m looking forward to the diver review.

  • goju1

    Bold but not Beautiful!

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    Actually looks quite a fun watch. Not sure how the design will age though.

  • Mark1884

    I like Bell & Ross. This one is interesting, but there is not enough dial/hand contrast for me. The sapphire case is cool, but I prefer their blue ceramic case.

  • IanE

    Not bad – for a B&R – but I keep finding my eyes drawn to the large corner screws which rather spoil the design for me.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I’ve never liked Bell & Ross and this nightmare of a watch just confirms my opinion. Bloody screws !

  • SuperStrapper

    The watch is actually quite cool*, but as much as I love that the movement was designed for the case (or… is the case?) I find the finishing to be lacklustre.

  • James

    For all that money, you’d think they could have aligned the 12 o’clock marker

    • Bozzor

      Just shows that maybe when it comes to building and assembling certain parts of a watch, machines may be able to do it better…or at least QC the work. Nicely spotted!

    • Robin Hunter

      Leaps out doesn’t it – would spoil the entire experience knowing it was wonky.

  • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    I think one of the vLogs (Well Done !) shows Mr. Adams being way laid by this gentleman outside the B&R exhibit.

    (I could be mistaken)

  • Ulysses31

    That large raised crystal is totally smashable (and not in the fun way).

  • That looks like a Swatch you’d buy on your way through Union Station.

  • funNactive

    I like it, but at the price point, I’d consider other models. (Not that I could afford it.)

  • aRIdd aRid

    I Personally Think That , The Watch Just Nice In Term of The Design And The Idea Behind It . If We Look Through The Material Such As Sapphire Case And Tourbilion With Micro Rotor As The Price They Offer To Consumer Is Still Consider OK , Compare To The The Same Concept We Have Seen Before Such As RM Sapphire And Hublot Sapphire As Well .

    Yes, Some Of Us Might Compare The Branding And The Complication As Well, As The Material Using In RM or Hublot But That Are The Reason Why , i Think You Have to Pay Even More For Their Price .To Be Fair, I Think We Must Compare The Watch With in Toubilion Range As Well.

    Some more I Personally Think , With The Micro Rotor Thin Tourbillon In House Mechanical Movement And Together With Bell & Ross Signature Identity Shape That Make it More Legit Is’t it ?

    That only My Opinion Thanks . Hehe .