While Bell & Ross is arguably best known for its utilitarian design language that draws its inspiration from cockpit flight instruments, the brand also produces a fairly wide assortment of other models that embrace far less function-forward concepts. Sitting at the far end of the non-utilitarian spectrum are the brand’s Cyber Skull watches, which offer a fresh and decidedly modern take on this traditional memento mori concept. Although Bell & Ross has been creating watches with skulls on them since 2009, the Cyber Skull line is a more recent addition that first made an appearance in 2020, and for its latest release of 2023, Bell & Ross has created a new limited-edition variation of this rather divisive model. Based upon the full sapphire version that originally debuted in 2021, the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue expands upon this concept with a pale blue metallic skull sitting inside its clear sapphire case.
At a quick glance, the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue is more-or-less the same watch as the full sapphire model from 2021, with the one difference being the skull that serves as its centerpiece. What this means is that the case of the new BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue is identical to its predecessor in terms of its materials and dimensions, and its rectangular profile measures 43.5mm in diameter by 45mm lug-to-lug. Crafted entirely from clear sapphire, the case features a faceted design that further leans into its cyber-themed aesthetic, and it features a polished stainless steel winding crown at 3 o’clock, along with 30 meters of water resistance to protect against incidental contact. Similarly, the lugs are fitted with the same strap as the full sapphire model from 2021, which is crafted from transparent silicone and completed by a brushed stainless steel pin buckle.
Taking the place of the dial on the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue is a stylized skull and crossbones assembly, which is mounted at the corners and appears to float inside the case. Just like previous Cyber Skull watches, a pair of centrally-mounted baton hands stick out from the nose of the skull to display the hours and minutes, while the balance wheel sits fully exposed at the top of the skull to represent the “brain” of the watch that is responsible for its accuracy and timekeeping. While the skull inside the full sapphire model from 2021 was also crafted from clear sapphire to match the rest of the case, the skull inside the new BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue is made from galvanized brass with a pale blue PVD finish; however, it still features the same animation for the lower jaw, which moves up and down to expose the mainspring barrel whenever the watch is manually wound.
Powering the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue is the same manufacture BR-CAL.209 manual-wind movement that can be found inside the previous full sapphire Cyber Skull model. While the calibers used for the various Cyber Skull models can sometimes feature different movement numbers, it is only their finishing that separates them, and since the movement inside the new BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue has rhodium-plated components just like the previous full-sapphire model, it ultimately goes by the exact same movement number. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 48 hours, the Bell & Ross BR-CAL.209 features a highly skeletonized design, and the architecture of the movement is constructed in such a manner that the vast majority of its components reside behind the skull to further create the appearance that it is suspended within the case.
With an official retail price of $115,000 USD, the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue is actually slightly less expensive than the full sapphire version that debuted in 2021, although this is simply due to the fact that the skull inside the new model is crafted from PVD-finished brass rather than also being made from sapphire. Additionally, while both versions of the watch are produced as small-batch limited editions, the new Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue enjoys a larger production run of 25 examples, compared to the 10 pieces that were created for the original full sapphire model. While this price point places the new BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue right at the very top of the brand’s current catalog, it’s undeniable that this represents one of the most striking and premium Bell & Ross watches that have ever been put forward. For more information on the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Ice Blue, please visit the brand’s website.