One of the more fun and quirky offerings from Bell & Ross is its Flight Instruments series, which reinterprets famous cockpit dash instruments and turns them into wristwatches. While a similar inspiration serves as the foundation for the brand’s signature design language, the Bell & Ross Flight Instruments models take this concept one step further and aim to fully recreate the appearance of what you might find inside the cockpit of an aircraft. Over the years, Bell & Ross has released a number of different watches within this series, with each one based on a different famous flight instrument, and as its latest new release of 2023, the brand has just announced the limited-edition BR 03 Gyrocompass, which takes the instantly recognizable appearance of a plane’s course indicator and puts it directly on the wrist
Based upon the core design of the recently revised BR 03 series, the case of the new Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass (ref. BR03A-CPS-CE/SRB) is crafted from matte black ceramic, and it offers the collection’s signature rounded square profile with four screws placed at the corners. Just like the ceramic versions of the standard BR 03, the case of the new Gyrocompass edition is slightly thicker than the stainless steel models, and it measures 41mm in diameter by 10.6mm thick. A flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment sits above the dial, a signed crown protrudes from the 3 o’clock side of the case, and a solid screw-on caseback closes up the reverse side of the watch to help create the same 100 meters of water resistance as the rest of the current BR 03 collection. Additionally, fitted to the lugs of the new BR 03 Gyrocompass is the same black rubber strap that you will find on a number of other models, which is completed by a stainless steel tang buckle with a black PVD finish.
At the heart of its functionality, the new Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass is still just a standard time-and-date watch, although the way that it goes about displaying the time is what makes it special and sets it apart from the rest of the other BR 03 models. Just like an airplane’s course indicator, the dial prominently displays the outline of a fighter jet, although rather than rotating to display the directional orientation of the aircraft, the neon yellow jet silhouette instead serves as the hour hand for the watch, with the tip of the nose indicating the current time. As for the minute hand, it appears as a thin black shaft with a white arrow-shaped tip that points to its corresponding value along the minute track, which is printed on the elevated flange that surrounds the dial.
Meanwhile, the seconds hand on the Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass is a thin, double-sided shaft that is finished matte black with one end accented by a small white tip to allow users to track elapsed seconds. Lastly, just like the rest of the BR 03 range, new limited-edition Gyrocompass model features the collection’s circular date window, which appears at the 4:30 location and includes a white-on-black calendar disc to blend into the matte black surface of the dial. While this unconventional display is hardly the most legible or intuitive when it comes to reading the time, practicality simply isn’t the primary objective of the brand’s Flight Instruments collection. Bell & Ross produces plenty of ultra-legible models throughout the rest of its catalog, and the brand’s Flight Instruments models are instead intended to be fun and unique collector’s pieces for those with a passion for aviation.
Once you strip back its unique aviation-inspired display, the new Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass is still a time-and-date watch with three centrally-mounted hands, and this means that it can be powered by a conventional internal movement. Just like the standard-production models from the current BR 03 range, the new limited-edition BR 03 Gyrocompass runs on the BR-CAL.302 automatic movement, which is based upon the underlying architecture of the venerable Sellita SW300. As such, the Bell & Ross BR-CAL.302 runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), and thanks to an update that Sellita rolled out a couple years ago for this particular movement series, it benefits from an increased power reserve of approximately 54 hours.
As one of the go-to options for Swiss automatic movements, the Sellita SW300 is an entirely capable design that is trusted to power countless watches from a wide variety of different brands throughout the industry. While the movement itself isn’t exactly auspicious, one benefit of a common and widely used design is that you won’t experience any issues down the road due to a lack of replacement parts or qualified repair centers that are capable of servicing it. However, because the Sellita SW300 can be found inside so many different watches, a significant percentage of buyers who are spending mid-four-figure sums of money now expect an in-house caliber or at least some type of proprietary module, and this has historically been one of the most common critiques of Bell & Ross as a brand.
The new Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass will be produced as a limited edition of 999 examples, and it will be accompanied by an official retail price of $4,500 USD. While there will undeniably still be some folks who feel that this is rather expensive for a watch with a Sellita movement, this price ultimately seems quite a bit more reasonable once you compare it to what the brand charges for its standard BR 03 models. Despite its unique design, ceramic case, and limited-edition production, the new BR 03 Gyrocompass costs only $900 more than the least expensive BR 03, which has a stainless steel case and represents one of the brand’s entry-level offerings. While this isn’t my personal favorite model among the Bell & Ross Flight Instruments collection (that would be either the BR 03-92 HUD from 2020 or the BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic from 2021), I personally love that Bell & Ross produces these watches, as they are objectively fun timepieces that represent the ultimate expression of the brand’s cockpit instrument-inspired design language. For more information on the Bell & Ross BR 03 Gyrocompass watch, please visit the brand’s website.