INTRODUCING: Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary
Bell & Ross fetes the prestigious aerobatic display team while flying the French tricolours high.
Best known for its professional timepieces inspired by vintage cockpit instruments, it is somewhat surprising that Bell & Ross only joined forces with Patrouille de France, the precision aerobatics demonstration unit of the French Air and Space Force, in 2021. Aside from the country of origin, both entities have much in common. According to Colonel Malard, Director of SIRPA Air and Space, values such as “Self-transcendence, constant innovation, rigour, precision, and a spirit of cohesion” drive both institutions, not to mention “the demand for excellence and the desire to raise the prestige of French wings to the highest level”. Seemingly making up for lost time, Bell & Ross has just unveiled the third timepiece of the partnership in as many years, this time celebrating the prestigious military unit with the BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary.
Not content with merely slapping a logo on a watch and calling it a tribute piece, Bell & Ross made it a point to involve the pilots while creating the models dedicated to Patrouille de France. The first is the utilitarian BR 03-94 Patrouille de France chronograph, followed by the BR 03 Type A Patrouille de France, the latter equipped with a quartz movement providing an analogue-digital display per the pilots’ request. Continuing this tradition, the BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary is similarly not only inspired by the pilots but also designed with the pilots.
The familiar BR 03-92 platform is a sight for sore eyes, with its 42mm x 42mm “circle within a square” format providing the ideal canvas for an ultra-legible dial. Against a vibrant blue backdrop, which evokes the colour of the Alpha Jet of the Patrouille de France, are a set of crisp Arabic numerals and oversized flieger-style hands, all coated with Super-LumiNova to ensure readability even in the dark. While the Patrouille de France and the anniversary logos at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock pay homage to the elite flying team, a thin inner ring separating the dial and flange flaunts the French tricolours. The same hues can be seen discreetly incorporated into the blue calfskin leather strap in the form of accent stitching.
Although the BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary does not come with a see-through caseback, the solid back of the watch provides a visual feast, if not a graphic history of the team’s aircraft through the decades. Framed by the microblasted black ceramic case are engravings of the five aircraft that have been a part of the legend since the Patrouille de France’s inception in 1953, namely, the Republic F-84G Thunderjet, the Dassault Ouragan, the Dassault Mystère IV, the Fouga Magister, and the Dassault Alpha Jet. Water-resistant to 100m, the watch is powered by the self-winding BR-CAL.302 movement.
Supplied with an additional strap in an ultra-resilient black synthetic canvas fabric, BR 03-92 Patrouille de France 70th Anniversary is limited to 999 pieces at S$5,800 each. It is currently available for pre-order with expected delivery in mid-July 2023.
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