February 1, 2023
Since 2009, Bell & Ross has been creating watches with skulls on them, and over the years, we have seen a fairly diverse assortment of different offerings from the brand that have all featured this popular memento mori as their centerpiece. While putting a skull on a watch is hardly a novel concept, one of the more interesting Bell & Ross models within this category is the BR 01 Cyber Skull from 2020 that puts a thoroughly modern and geometric twist on what has ultimately become a rather familiar aesthetic. While the original version of this watch was rendered in black ceramic for a decidedly contemporary look and feel, the latest release from the Paris-based brand is the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze, which reimagines this highly-modern design in an alloy that has existed since ancient times to create a watch that offers a unique juxtaposition of futuristic design and traditional technology.
For the most part, the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze (ref. BR01-CSK-BR/SRB) is essentially just the bronze version of the black ceramic model from 2020. The case itself is crafted from CuSn8 bronze with a brushed and polished finish, while the screw-on caseback is made from CuAI7Si2 bronze and fitted with a sapphire window to offer a view of the reverse side of the movement. The angular square case, which is inspired by the fuselage of a stealth aircraft, measures 45mm in diameter by 13.7mm-thick, with an overall lug-to-lug profile of 46.7mm. Additionally, it features a signed winding crown at the 3 o’clock location, along with a sapphire crystal protecting its dial, which helps provide the watch with 50 meters of water resistance. Fitted to the 24mm lugs is a black two-piece rubber strap that is completed by a matching pin buckle crafted from brushed and polished CuAI7Si2 bronze.
Rather than having a dial, a large skull and crossbones sits suspended in the case, and the movement is designed in such a way that the vast majority of its components are hidden behind the skull. This allows you to see clear though the watch in the spaces surrounding the skull, and it gives the components the appearance of almost floating within the case. The movement’s balance sits visible at the top of the skull symbolizing the brain that governs the timekeeping, while the lower part of the jaw has been given an automation animation, and it moves up and down as the watch is manually-wound, which is intended to emulate the appearance of the skull laughing in the face of death. The skull itself is crafted from rose gold plated brass. Rather than being a realistic rendition of a skull like other models, the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze features the same stylized aesthetic as other Cyber Skull watches, with a distinct angular appearance that offers an almost digital design while also offering a subtle tribute to origami (the Japanese art of paper folding). At the center of the dial are a pair of gold-plated baton hands with Super-LumiNova inlays that display the time against simple stick indexes that are printed on the underside surface of the crystal.
Powering the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze is the brand’s manufacture BR-CAL.210 movement. Although this manual-wind caliber features its own distinct movement number compared to the ones that are used to power the other Cyber Skull watches, it seems to offer the same architecture and functionality as its siblings (lower jaw animation included), with its bridges and plates oriented in such a way that they fit within the natural shape of the skull. Given the similarities between the BR-CAL.210 and the movements powering the other Cyber Skull watches, it is more than likely that the BR-CAL.210 is ultimately the same base caliber, but with the different movement number used to denote the different finishing on it. While the specific specs of the BR-CAL.210 aren’t listed in the press release or on the brand’s website, it is highly likely that it offers the same performance specs as its siblings, which means that it runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), while offering users a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. In addition to being able to offer a highly sculptural shape, the manual-wind nature of the BR-CAL.210 movement means that owners will have daily opportunities to enjoy the skull’s signature animation.
Watches with skulls on them can often be considered somewhat of a niche product, but given that Bell & Ross has been producing them for almost fifteen years, the market for these timepieces is clearly sizable enough to support multiple different iterations of this striking and divisive aesthetic. Just like the original Cyber Skull in black ceramic, the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze will be produced as a limited edition of 500 pieces, and it will be accompanied by an official retail price of $11,400 USD, which makes it slightly more expensive than the inaugural black ceramic version (which is to be expected given a couple years of inflation between the releases of these two models). That said, while previous versions of the Bell & Ross Cyber Skull embraced a modern appearance, the new bronze edition leans into the inherently Old World qualities of bronze to create a unique blend of both vintage and modern aesthetics that will naturally age and patina over time. For more information on the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Bronze, please visit the brand’s website.