If you ever needed proof that aeronautics runs deep in the DNA of Bell & Ross, the new BR03-92 MA-1 is all the proof you will ever need. Who else would take a historic piece of military gear and turn it into a watch? Bell & Ross would, and did.
To understand the watch, however, one must first look back at the article of clothing that inspired it – the MA-1 flight jacket or more commonly known as the bomber jacket. Although these days the bomber jacket is more likely to make an appearance on the fashion runway than on an actual runway, back in 1958 the bomber jacket was created out of necessity.
You see, during the 1950s advancement in aeronautics meant that planes could start flying faster and at higher altitudes. This meant that the temperatures within the cockpits dropped drastically. Before the MA-1 pilots were using bulky leather jackets lined with fleece. Not only did these old jackets not fit in the new smaller cockpits but god forbid if these fleece jackets got wet pre-flight they would freeze at the higher altitudes making it quite uncomfortable for the pilot.
Thus, the MA-1 was born. The MA-1 was made of nylon making it both waterproof and visibly thinner than the fleece-lined leather jackets. Another cool detail of the MA-1 is the fact that the jacket was reversible and the inner lining is bright orange. This was meant for the pilot to use to attract the attention of search and rescue teams.
Now the watch makes sense. The khaki and orange combination is not just another attractive colour variant for Bell & Ross but rather done to mimic the colours of the MA-1. the 42mm case is done in matte khaki ceramic which extends to the dial as well. The dial is a sandwich style dial with the ceramic on the top with cutaways revealing the orange and luminescent layer underneath.
Just like the MA-1 which has a reversible function, the strap of this watch is also reversible. It may seem simple to make a strap with finished leather on both sides, but they had to ensure that both sides would be able to withstand not just the external elements but also withstand against the sweat from the wrist. Just a quick note, when reversing the strap, the buckle also has to be flipped manually so its a little more cumbersome than just swapping straps.
I love watches like this. On the surface, it doesn’t seem all that interesting but when you delve deeper into it, there is tons of storytelling and enough elements that make it noteworthy.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 MA-1 is limited to only 999 pieces worldwide.
Case: Matte khaki ceramic
Case size: 42mm
Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.302, Automatic
Water Resistance: 100m