Archive for the 'Bell & Ross' Category

Bell & Ross Vintage BR126 Heritage: Flying in Circles

Saturday, August 20th, 2011


There are some things that you can tell with just one glance that you aren’t going to take a liking to. Like broccoli. For me though, it’s been broccoli and the Bell and Ross Instrument series of wristwatches. Perhaps it’s the oddly-shaped case that’s supposed to resemble a cockpit indicator. Admittedly I’ve not been in that many cockpits, but I’m not sure if modern plane-makers will stick a big old clock right in the instrument panel. I would have thought stuff like altimeters, flight speed indicators and compasses would be more useful to the pilot. But Bell&Ross thinks pilots need clocks. Maybe they’re right since the flights I take somehow always end up late.

Will not fit in small pockets

Which is a shame really, since B&R is obviously much more than a manufacture that just draws squares. They came up with the rather interesting Demineur, which despite a quartz movement, is a handsome and understated watch useful for bomb disposal. Now THAT’s a real instrument! Readers will also know that I have a soft spot for the Vintage 123 and 126 series of wristwatches, which are well designed and versatile timepieces of a good-size and (somewhat) decent price. It’s therefore good to know that B&R has been refreshing these lines in recent years and coming up with new ones that are not quadrilaterals, such as the Pocketwatch (PW) series they showcased recently at Baselworld.

Right now I’d like to talk about the Vintage 126 though. As mentioned earlier the 123 and 126 lines have been face-lifted recently – the dial markings have become more minimal – culminating in a simpler and less busy look. B&R have released several variations, but I was most impressed by the Vintage 126 Heritage.

Bell and Ross Military 126 (Vintage 126 Collection)

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Just right after I posted the last article I got an email, which went

“Cher Monsieur tourBULLion,
nous avons trouvé votre critique de notres belles montres de mauvais goût et pédant et grossière. Nous absolutement insistons que vous direz des choses avantageux. Si non, nous vous excluons de notres fêtes légendaire pour une durée indéterminée!
Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de nos sentiments les meilleurs,
Messieurs Belle Andros”

I think it basically meant,

“Dear Mister tourBULLion,
we find your tasteless and pedantic criticism of our beautiful watches extremely offensive. We absolutely insist that you say something nice about our watches or we shall forever ban you from our wild parties that are the stuff of legend.
Messieur Belle Andros.”

What! Meester Belle Andros, do you actually think tourBULLion can be persuaded into contravening our own views just for cheap invites to your parties, which are allegedly the stuff of legend?! I should think not, our journalistic integrity is irreproachable and you will find our resilience similar to a strong wall made of plaster and plywood. Which is why we have to reiterate that the timing of this review is a complete coincidence and something we have been planning for since… some time ago.

To the review then. In the mad excitement surrounding Bell and Ross’ recent stunning successes- all of which can be pinpointed to that veritable 10-ton weight on the wrist, the BR01 Instrument series and its offshoots- its easy to forget that their stable still consists of some real gems that don’t need funky coloring to sell.



The Bell and Ross Military 126, one of two limited edition watches in B&R’s Vintage 126 line, carries what’s left of B&R’s polarised reputation like a wounded squirrel protects its hairy nuts. Standing out in the mostly black and white Vintage 126 range with its bold brown dial and strap, the Military just avoids being too butch, especially if you remove the redundant leather backing. Now this is still a very manly watch, being able to project sheer masculinity with just a scanty diameter of 39mm. Only 39mm. The last time a 39mm watch was considered manly was in the 1950s.

Aesthetically, its a very pleasing watch to look at. A nice deep fudge-like brown dial and strap, making you wonder why B&R didn’t call it the Chocolate 126 or Buff Squirrel 126. Contrasting against the dark color of the dial are the nice white minute markings and the red Bell and Ross ‘&’ logo just above the six o’clock position. It’s certainly not new, having been around for a couple of years now, but the clean and very readable design makes the dial look contemporary and sophisticated without being too busy.

But the obvious comparison here of course, is against its own stablemates, the BR01 instrument-series chronos. The Military drops the 3 and 9 o’clock hour-markers and retains all the others, while the BR01 goes the other direction and drops everything except for the 12 o’clock marker and a partially concealed 3 and 9. So you’re getting more numbers on your dial with this smaller watch, see. Now that’s a great indicator of value. Hour-markers.

Bell and Ross Military 126, Stainless Steel Case, 39mm, 200m water-resistance; sapphire glass caseback, 42 hours power reserve. Movement: self-winding ETA 2894.

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