The integrated bracelet steel sports watch category is one of the fastest growing and most competitive segments of the current luxury watch industry. A wide spectrum of brands have thrown hats into this particular ring, but few new designs have gathered as much attention as the Bell & Ross BR 05 series. For its latest release, Bell & Ross has taken its first major effort toward expanding the line past the original three hand concept. The new Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono series is the logical next step for the BR 05, adding not just a chronograph to the formula but a series of subtle design touches that help to emphasize its ‘70s retro flair.
Like its three hand cousin, the 42mm stainless steel case of the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono blends an amalgam of integrated bracelet sports watch cues with the brand’s signature rounded square case geometry. Elements like the wide raised bezel with its distinctive four screws and polished chamfer should seem familiar to enthusiasts from other designs in this space, but the execution here is so distinctly Bell & Ross thanks to the overall shape that these touches avoid feeling like plagiarism or pastiche. Of course the largest change for the case comes on the 3 o’clock side with the inclusion of pushers for the chronograph. The rectangular pushers themselves look in images to be a touch on the small side, hiding somewhat behind the prominent crown guards, but the angled shapes flow well into the case sides. A sapphire display back offers a look at the chronograph movement within, while a screwdown crown helps the BR 05 Chrono to achieve a decent 100 meters of water resistance.
Bell & Ross offers the BR 05 Chrono with both black and blue dial variants. Both feature a sunburst finish, although in initial images this effect seems to be quite restrained in the black dial model. The black dial is undoubtedly the more subdued and sportier of the two, while the deep cobalt blue dial model emphasizes the luxurious flash of the design. The dial layouts of both versions owe as much to the classic integrated bracelet designs of the ‘70s as they do to Bell & Ross’ own DNA, with the brand integrating Nautilus style paddle hands and applied lozenge shaped indices together with prominent rounded Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock. The chronograph subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock are far from an afterthought here, and are integrated into the overall form with a funky ‘70s inspired aesthetic. Markings for both are kept to a minimum outside a recessed outer track in gray, allowing the main surface of the subdial to remain uncluttered and airy. The prominent azurage finishing on these surface looks in initial images to make these subdials a dynamic focal point, while the rounded square shape of these subdials nicely echoes the overall case form. The 4:30 date window disrupts visual symmetry somewhat, but the use of a dial color date wheel does help to mitigate this effect.
Inside the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono series beats the ETA 2894-2 based BR-CAL.301 automatic chronograph movement. Performance for this movement is relatively standard, with a 42 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Bell & Ross finishes the BR 05 Chrono with a pair of strap options. The first and flashiest of these is a tapering integrated H-link bracelet, with wide polished central links. Flowing neatly into the case, this design helps to reinforce the vintage inspired touches throughout the watch while providing a classic versatile option for wearers. For those preferring a more modern feel, the BR 05 Chrono is also available with a dial color integrated rubber strap with a prominent striped texture.
With the release of the BR 05 Chrono, Bell & Ross effectively proves that the BR 05 line has the potential to grow into a cornerstone for the brand, while creating a distinctive and handsome sports chronograph in the process. The Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono is available now through authorized dealers at a starting MSRP of $5,900. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.