Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Bell & Ross is not what I would call an underdog brand, but their BR02 dive watch certainly has been an underdog. Not appreciated to its full extent, this is a really cool timepiece that deserves a bit of extra attention. I don't recall the exact year the BR02 made its debut, but it was on the coattails of the BR01 at the height of its popularity. Moving their attention from the air to the sea, Bell & Ross wanted to release a novel diver watch instrument.

Previous dive pieces in their collection such as the Hyrdomax were quartz-based and filled with oil. An attractive piece, the Hydromax was perhaps too tool-like and had too many style references to when Bell & Ross watches were more closely associated with Sinn. The idea of the BR02 was to make a dive watch version of the BR01. You can still get Hydromax watches today and they are water resistant to 11,000 meters (yes) - though compared to the "big Bell & Ross" image created by the 46mm wide BR01, the Hydromax was rather medium sized at 40mm wide.

Being a dive watch fan the BR02 immediately caught my attention when it was released some years back. One thing that was unique is the fact that it has a tonneau-shaped case. Probably the only dive watch with this case style that I can think of. Bell & Ross offered a unique look as well as something that genuinely felt like a diving instrument. Nevertheless, the unorthodox style might have been a bit too strange for some people seeking a more conventional look. I can appreciate that, as off the wrist the BR02 is certainly a "different" looking watch.

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On the wrist however the tonneau-shaped case begins to sell itself. The dial is still round and the case feels natural on the wrist. Cases such as those also tend to compliment one's wrist visually. References to the BR01 are clear. There are the four large screws on the case as well as the dial which is inspired by the aviator look of the BR01. Having said that, the dial does feel appropriate for a dive watch and does not feel misplaced.

To make it a true diver Bell & Ross gave the BR02 an internal rotating bezel, an automatic helium release valve, as well as 500 meters of water resistance. The watch came in both three-hand and chronograph variant, while additional styles were added over the years. The large polished steel case is chunky feeling - as a good diver should be. The attached rubber strap is custom for the case and integrates nicely with the design. Best of all it is very comfortable and does not feel like a weight on your wrist. This is good because like the BR01, the BR02 is a large watch. It is almost 50mm wide including the crown and pushers, and about 49mm tall. Thickness is 17mm. With a large domed sapphire crystal it makes for a handsome and aggressive look.

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Even being so domed the thick amount of AR coating on the crystal makes legibility high. Only at extreme angles is there going to be dial distortion. Wanting to look as much like a serious instrument as possible, the minute hand on this chronograph model is outlined in orange to match a couple of other elements on the dial. You'll also notice that Bell & Ross used different colors of lume for the hour and minute hand to amplify underwater legibility in the dark.

This chronograph version uses an ETA 2894 automatic movement which has been modified to have the 12 hour counter removed. It makes for a cleaner look on the dial but also gives the chronograph 30 minutes of timing capacity. The date indicator is very cleanly and covertly designed into the dial between 4 and 5 o'clock. Even though there is a lot going on the dial, it is still very legible. I further appreciate the internal bezel operating crown to be located at 10 o'clock, which makes it easy to use while the watch is on the wrist. All crowns and pushers are nicely done being partially rubber-coated and screw-down.

Bell & Ross BR02-94 Marine Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I still consider the BR02 collection to be under-appreciated, not because people don't like them, but rather because they simply don't get a ton of attention. On the wrist they really shine and offer a unique dive watch experience. Unlike most Bell & Ross watches which are often winners at first glance, the BR02 needs a bit more time to appreciate, and I recommend you put one on your wrist to see how the shape translates itself on you. This particular model is the BR02-94 Marine Chronograph and retails for $5,400.

What do you think?
  • I love it! (3)
  • Thumbs up (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I want it! (0)
  • Phil

    The Halios Laguna is another dive watch with a tonneau-esque case and, coincidentally, an internal rotating bezel and 500m water resistance. It also looks better (IMHO) and costs oh so much less.

  • Jim Clement AKA Disgruntled Veteran

    I agree that the BR02 collection is under-appreciated. Very rarely do you anyone wearing them. While somewhat unusual to see a diver with a tonneau case – – – it does make for a very Sierra Hotel looking watch.

  • I always loved the Chrono with PVD Case… but the price was outrageous and couldn’t justify it. Early this year B&R must have agreed as it’s one of the few examples I have ever seen where a brand actually LOWERED the price of the watch (all BR-02s in fact). We probably would have seen more people wearing BR02s around had they not made this blunder early on… too bad.

  • Simeon Weinraub

    That is a nice looking watch. I actually want one, if I can get it at my price.

  • P. Merle

    They tend to become boring.
    Nothing innovative and the price is jerk from what is inside. The last nice model was B 03-92 Heritage.

  • richb

    Nice watch. I don’t care what people say about this brand. B&R make quality stuff.

  • Ulysses

    It has a nice solid-looking case and strap, but in person these things don’t look so great. The watch looks big but the dial appears crowded due to the very large numerals and other markers as well as that thick rotating inner ring – all this makes the watch look smaller. I’m also not keen on these really stumpy hands – they look fat and oafish. Overall it looks more “fashion watch” than “professional instrument”.

    • Ovidiu

      I dont understant why all the trouble in making this 500m WR and including a helium scape valve… while they miss the ISO 6425 certification by not putting lume on the second hand.
      It looks to me that this is indeed a “fashion watch” and this was their intent from the begining, case in which they should have stick with the design alone and not include true diver feature that noone will use, but pay for it.

      Watch looks nice tough.

  • Tarak

    Fad brand with fad collections, I rather pay $5k for Bremont than B&R (not that I would do it).

    • It is really hard for me to see that as they have a lot of high quality enduring designs and models. No one says you have to love the concept, but I’ve never known anyone to be unhappy with their B&R watch.

    • kris c

      Kinda tough to call B&R a fad brand – they aren’t new, and have had lots of attention for some time now. The circle-in-a-square cases that they are known for are quite beyond fad.

      Think twice, type once.

      • Mr. Champ

        They’ve been around since 1992 yet with their advertisements they try to give o the impression that they’re a watch maker with a rich history who supplied the military in WWII.

        • That is a pretty unfair thing to say actually. I have been looking at Bell & Ross ads for years and never once got that impression. They’ve also never suggested that. Bell & Ross is a brand run by designers. Their timepieces are about a polished look and feel, trying to evoke certainly eras and concepts. They never try to suggest they have done anything more than they have.

  • P. Merle

    I read some reviews from other experts, who say that BR has a fantastic advertising, which is much above their poor technical level.
    Look here. What do you really have inside? Not even a better ETA movement and
    a poor 30 minutes chronograph. So why so enthusiastic?
    And from the design point of view the hour hand is so ugly!
    Again, the price cannot be justified in any way. The fantastic BR advertising can make some people blind, technical instrument bla bla and so on… What technical instrument?

  • richb

    WOW. B&R takes a beating. I guess you either love the brand or hate the brand.

  • Nice and cool. B&R is a popular brand. I also sell it at my website