The amount of fanfare surrounding the launch of Bell & Ross’ latest BR-X5 collection in Malaysia is a direct testament to its significance within the French brand. Just like previous X collections, namely the BR-X1, the new BR-X5 brings a multi-part case construction to their more elegant BR 05 shape, and more importantly is equipped with a new movement that offers real clout within horology circles.
Unlike most ‘X’ collections that often seem incredibly futuristic, the BR-X5 doesn’t seem that far of when compared to the BR 05. In fact, I would go as far as saying that when viewed from the front, they look quite similar. It is only when you look at the watch at an angle or from its profile that the many divots and protrusions born of its multi-part case becomes obvious.
Measuring 41mm in diameter, the production models of the BR-X5 collection are all in stainless steel. However, to really appreciate the freedom and creativity afforded by the multi-part case construction, the limited edition of the BR-X5 makes the most sense as it combines carbon forge and grade-2 titanium. Limited to only 500 pieces worldwide, this combination of materials and colours really gives this collection the avant garde look it seems to be going for. One of the benefits of using a Carbon forge technique to create the case instead of carbon fibre is the unique pattern you see on the case.
In tandem with the new case design, the BR-X5 also offers fans of Bell & Ross an option for a more prestigious and perhaps more respected movement. Where previously the Bell & Ross movements were mostly modified ETA and Sellita options, the BR-X5 comes with a brand-new movement made by the Kenissi manufacture. For those who are unfamiliar, Kenissi was created by Tudor to manufacture their newly designed movements and now also sell these movements to brands such as Breitling, TAG Heuer and more importantly Chanel.
In 2019 Chanel acquired a 20 percent stake in Kenissi and with Chanel also owning a minority stake in Bell & Ross, it seemed only natural that Bell & Ross form a relationship with Kenissi as well. With the new Kenissi movement designed for Bell & Ross, they now have an movement that does two things. One, it gives the brand a watch with a “serious” movement; and two, it gives the BR-X5 a movement that is precise enough to be Chronometer certified by the COSC.
Of course, this also means that the price of the watch gets raised. However if you compare the BR 05 with the BR-X5, the difference is only about MYR10,000. But for that stack of cash, you get a watch which is undoubtedly more difficult to assemble and offers a movement on par with the calibre MT5612 from a brand like Tudor. That seems like a pretty good deal. Additionally, the BR-X5 gets a power reserve indicator and a massive 70 hours of power reserve. The only downside I can think of is that the BR-X5 is a little thicker than the BR 05.
Whether or not, the Kenissi manufactured BR-CAL.323 calibre in the BR-X5 will open the floodgates for more of these movements to infiltrate other Bell & Ross collections remains to be seen. Either way the launch of the new BR-X5 heralds in a new chapter for Bell & Ross and it would be interesting to see where the brand goes from here.