Photo courtesy of Bell & Ross

Whenever I see a watch with lume anywhere but the hands and indices, I always wonder, “How bright is it?” Brands have a hard enough time getting the hands and markers to glow brightly and evenly, so why roll the dice on the entire dial, or a crown, or little bands in the case? I never wonder whether I’ll be disappointed — it’s how much I’ll be disappointed. When Bell & Ross decided to go full throttle and just make a watch case out of lume, I was morbidly curious: Here’s a brand I’m rather fond of, doing something gimmicky that has invariably let me down. After the initial release, and hearing people’s responses, that didn’t seem to be the main concern. People were entirely put off by the case’s unlit resting color. When I was having a day of boutique hopping at what I call the Fancy Mall, I stepped into a local AD, almost immediately saw the new Bell & Ross BR-X5 LUM, and beelined for it. Like any self-respecting watch journo, I’d brought my camera along for the day, and I set about seeing whether my suspicions about the case were correct and whether the community’s revulsion was warranted.

I’ll get right to it.  The case isn’t gross or weird. In the press photos, it has a greener, unhealthy color to it. In person, however, it’s quite a bit whiter, and that’s far more palatable. The case dimensions haven’t changed from the standard BR X-5 released in 2022. That means a 41mm-wide case that’s 12.8mm thick with 100 meters of water resistance and a flat sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown. I’ve always found the case of the X-5 a bit chunky, even amongst integrated band watches. I love the look, but on my wrist, they sit up a bit too high. This is no different, but I will give Bell & Ross credit for making it comfortable with the included rubber strap.

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How do they do the case magic? The lumed portion’s components are made of a composite material called LM3D, a luminescent fiberglass material. That accounts for the bezel insert and the upper and lower case. In a sense, the lumed case parts are almost a shell around the case container. That container is made of black DLC grade 2 titanium, as are the bezel, the crown, and the crown guards. Aesthetically, it’s an obvious choice and one that works well, but I also wonder what other wild color combos could be achieved here. Could we have purple lume components and a brushed gold PVD case? Let’s get wild. While I wasn’t equipped to grab a lume shot at the AD, nor were they designed to allow for one, I’ve included a press kit photo at the top of the article for reference. Having taken the watch to a darker (but not actually dark) alcove in the AD, I can confirm that it does glow evenly and bright enough. That said, it’s bluer and dimmer than the press photo.

One of the first things you’ll likely notice about the dial — as I did — is the disparity in color between the hands, the case, and the dial printing. The hour marker surrounds match the case, the registers and date frame are almost pure white, and the hands and bezel printing take on a yellow hue. Despite this clash of hues, the color of the actual glow is even. The issue remains that you’ve got yellow hands on a green-white case and it’s not an entirely lovely look. I only spent a few minutes with this watch and looked at it with a critical eye; it may be that over a longer time and with a less critical approach, the color differences don’t bother me as much.

Not everyone loves the dial layout of the X5, but I’m one of the exceptions, I suppose. I’ve always loved capsule-style hands and markers, and I like how almost everything on the dial is rounded, with nary a hard corner or sharp edge to be found. My only sticking point on the dial is the panoramic date window. For the life of me, I can’t see the benefit here, and if there is one, I can’t imagine it outweighs the fact that displaying three numbers is less clear than displaying one. Perhaps it gives a bit of balance to the big-eye PR at 9 o’clock (which actually juts into the bezel), but I think a standard date could’ve done the same. While I genuinely like the overall look of the dial, on a watch that’s lumed all over the place, it’s absolutely wild that they decided not to lume the date wheel. If you’re going to do a watch like this, why not go all the way?

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The Bell & Ross BR-X5 is powered by a movement made by Kenissi exclusively for the brand, the Swiss automatic BR-CAL.323. Given its exclusivity, B&R rightly refers to it as a manufacture caliber. The COSC-certified chronometer movement sports a 70-hour power reserve at 28,800 vph, which can be tracked on the dial’s power reserve indicator. The movement is on sort of full display through a smoky sapphire caseback crystal. As such, it’s hard to tell whether the custom rotor is DLC coated in black or not, but it sure seems like it. This movement was a big milestone for Bell & Ross: while they’d had some of their own calibers for much higher-end pieces, the serial production watches usually relied on Sellita movements. The X5 changed that, and it will be interesting to see if the brand continues down that path.

For those who want it, there’s plenty of novelty here. If you aren’t particular about the color(s), then I honestly don’t think that novelty will wear off. Far from being the only watch someone would own; this is more likely someone’s 30th or 40th watch. With that in mind, it would act as a fun complement to an already expansive collection — one more box checked off the list, one more quirky watch to be worn every once in a while. Maybe to a rave or to laser tag. The Bell & Ross BR-X5 Green Lum is priced at $13,300 USD and is limited to 500 pieces. For more information, please visit the brand’s website

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