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INTRODUCING: Bell & Ross’ new BR 03 collection in a new size

The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in black ceramic case and military green dial.

A 1mm change is small, but it does wonders for the square case model.

For Bell & Ross fans, the Instruments collection is its most iconic. After all, it was at the very heart of the brand’s beginnings when Carlos Rosillo and Bruno Belamich took their passion for military aviation and translated it directly into the design of a wristwatch. The BR 01 and BR 03 were based on dashboard instruments of fighter planes; their “circle in a square” form a reverse of the “square peg in a round hole”.   

The Bell & Ross BR 03 collection has evolved over the years.
The Bell & Ross BR 03 collection has evolved over the years.

In the 30 years since its founding, Bell & Ross has made its Instruments design a distinct icon among the handful of notable square- and rectangular-cased watches in the industry. The original in 2005 was a 46mm sized watch – a common size at the time, but now a smidge too big for most. A smaller 42mm case was released the following year, and then in 2014, Belamich made some minor changes to the BR 03 collection’s design and added new materials to the range.   

Managing Director of Bell & Ross, Fabien de Nonacourt.
Managing Director of Bell & Ross, Fabien de Nonacourt.

Now, nearly a decade later, Bell & Ross is presenting the BR 03 in a 41mm case size that complements but does not replace the 42mm models (for now). The brand’s managing director, Fabien de Nonancourt, explains, “We felt the demand from the market for smaller watches, and we had to find the right balance to ensure the strong identity of the Instruments collection was not compromised, while meeting this new consumer expectation.”  

He adds, “One millimetre of difference on a square case makes a huge difference when you see and encounter the watch. We’ve also made further changes to the design of the watches to elevate it even more.” These minute changes include rounded case corners and slightly shorter and slimmer lugs, all of which add up to greater comfort in wear as well as more refinement.   

The founders of Bell & Ross, Carlos Rosillo (left) and Bruno Belamich (right).
The founders of Bell & Ross, Carlos Rosillo (left) and Bruno Belamich (right) developed multiple prototypes for the new BR 03-A's design changes..

Nonancourt adds that in the product committee, Belamich developed endless prototypes on various lug designs and sizes as well as wider and narrower rounded corners of the case before they finally decided on the right fit. The new lugs are half a millimetre slimmer, and that proportion difference makes the watch look less bulky. The date discs are also matched to the dials.  

The Bell & Ross BR 03-A Phantom is an all-black watch with a black ceramic case.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-A Phantom is an all-black watch with a black ceramic case.

The watches come with other technical improvements: the time-telling models feature a new upgraded movement, the BR-CAL.302, which extends the mainspring’s power by 12 more hours. The 54 hours of reserve means you can leave the watch off for two whole days, and it will still keep good time. The water resistance of the models has also been improved, up to 100m.   

The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in stainless steel case with copper dial.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in stainless steel case with copper dial.

The BR 03-A models come in two case types: black ceramic and steel with a brushed and polished finish. Black dials with white indexes apply across the board, but the two case types have differing dial options. The military-inspired and rugged ceramic watches offer a military green dial with black indexes, a black dial with vintage lume indexes, and an all-black model inspired by the SR-71 Blackbird.   

The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in stainless steel case with blue sunray dial.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in stainless steel case with blue sunray dial.

The steel watches come in a blue sunray-finished dial with white indexes, a chocolate brown sunray-finished dial with gold-hued applied indexes, and a satin-finished copper dial with blue indexes that is Bell & Ross’ take on the salmon dial. The sunray-finished dials are a relatively new addition to the Instruments range, in fact. The additions came with the success of the BR 05 and the demand by consumers for similar dials on the Instruments range.   

The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in black ceramic case with black dial and white indexes, on a self-fastening strap.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-A in black ceramic case with black dial and white indexes, on a self-fastening strap.

Nonancourt adds that there will be some special editions that will be released in Q4 of 2023 and Q1 of 2024, but for now, they’re looking at the market reaction to this new running change. In the meantime, you can try on the new BR 03 at Bell & Ross boutiques or authorised retailers and tell us what you think of the watches. 

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.