We have a particular fondness for the simple practicality of a well put together GMT watch here at Bob’s, and the latest from pilot’s favorite Bell and Ross is a real beauty.
The first dual time zone piece to make its way into their Vintage collection, the BR V2-93 GMT launched this year takes advantage of the overall design of an earlier piece, the BR V2-92, sharing a case, bracelet and dial layout, and piles in some very welcome and useful functionality.
Long known for their airplane cockpit-inspired models, with the distinctive ‘circle inside a square’ BR 01 and 03 series’, the Vintage family is a more traditional round case shape, and this new piece weighs in at an eminently wearable 41mm.
With the company DNA entrenched in the sort of military applications that prize legibility and reliability above all else, the ‘function dictates form’ philosophy is at the heart of every piece that emerges from Bell and Ross’s Swiss enclaves in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The BR V2-93 GMT follows that ethos to the letter, remaining in the predominantly black and white color scheme used in flight instrumentation for maximum contrast and to eliminate glare. The bi-directional bezel has a (barely) two-tone effect to represent night and day; the top half of the anodized aluminum surround in black and the bottom in dark grey—a little nod to the granddaddy of them all, Rolex’s GMT-Master.
But the watch is given an important eye-catching splash with the addition of an orange central 24-hour hand for the GMT function.
All the elements working together means Bell and Ross’s latest is capable of keeping track of three time zones, putting it one step ahead of their other traveler’s models; the similarly shaped BR 123 GMT 24H or the instrument-based BR 03-93, both with fixed bezels.
Now, the three main, white hands can be used to read one time zone, the orange hand displays a second and a third can be indicated by rotating the graduated bezel to line the numerals up with the hour hand. Simple, efficient and functional—the essence of the brand.
Bell and Ross is, in horology terms, an extremely young company. Formed in 1992 by two friends, Bruno Belamich and Carlos A. Rosillo, they have shaken up the industry with designs steeped in aviation and military history.
They have built an enviable reputation for creating the sorts of tool watches that not only have a strong aesthetic presence, but are also among the most capable models around.
As the official suppliers to France’s Air Force, Civil Defense Bomb Squad and the elite tactical division of the French National Police, known as RAID, the watches they provide are required to operate in some extremely inhospitable environments.
To ensure their reliability, B&R draw on the assistance of professional pilots, divers and bomb disposal experts to assist with their creations. They have even called on the expertise of astronauts when they supplied the Spacelab mission.
The one aspect they do not make themselves however, are the internal movements for their watches.
Inside the BR V2-93 GMT’s steel case is an ETA caliber, the 2893-2 automatic Swiss mechanism—a widely used GMT engine that powers dual time offerings for everyone from Hamilton to Panerai to Baume & Mercier.
The self-winding movement has a 28,800vph frequency, a quickset date, a hacking function and a power reserve of 42 hours. It also allows for the two hour hands to be set independently, with the orange GMT being adjustable in one hour increments via the crown.
The black dial has been somewhat toned down from the previous BR 123 model, with smaller numerals that are still heavily inspired by those found on some of Panerai’s biggest hitters. They, as well as the indices and hands, are filled with white Superluminova for excellent readability in low light.
The date window is, unusually, in the 4:30 position on the dial—something of a trait with the brand and not to everyone’s taste. Personally, I’m a fan. It remains both easy to see and about as unobtrusive as you can get.
Covering it all is an ultra-curved sapphire crystal with a coating that does a great job of cutting down on glare. The case back also features a sapphire to let you watch that caliber, renamed the BR-CAL.303, at work.
A good GMT function is possibly the most useful watch complication for the majority of people. Whether you are traveling to a far-flung land and want to keep tabs on their local time to off-set some of the effects of jetlag, or you need to be able to tell at a glance whether the person you are about to call in another country is going to shout at you for rousing them from a deep sleep, it is handy information to have.
The Bell and Ross BR V2-93 GMT is a handsome addition to a long succession of fine dual time zone watches.
On its metal bracelet it offers a great deal of dress up or down versatility, while its optional black rubber strap is an unmistakably sporty, utilitarian alternative.
For such a new brand, B&R has produced some real showstoppers, and this latest creation is another piece sure to find a highly appreciative audience.