It has been fifteen years since Bell & Ross launched the BR 01, a watch that housed a round dial in a square case, inspired by the cockpit of an aircraft. And since then, it has seen many iterations of this concept but always squarely based on the fact that they were “Instruments for Professionals”. It was only last year that Bell & Ross finally stepped out of that shell and offered a brand-new watch design that looked to capture a portion of the luxury sports watch market – the BR 05.
To be fair, the watch was still a variation of the circle within a square trope but with a twist of elegance. The angles of the case were softened down, the dial was given a beautiful sunray effect, it had applied indices and an oh-so-gorgeous bracelet. You can read my first impression of the BR 05 when I managed to get some hands-on time with it last year here. Today, however, I will be talking about a limited-edition version of the BR 05 called the Skeleton Blue. There will only be 500 of them made in each strap option (rubber or stainless steel bracelet), and they will come with this beautiful skeletonised movement visible through a transparent blue dial. The only catch is, it will cost MYR 10,000 more than the standard BR 05.
Before we get into that, let’s first take a look at the watch itself. I had the pleasure of wearing the BR 05 Skeleton Blue (with a rubber strap) on my wrist for about a week and fell absolutely in love with this piece. The 40mm width of the watch and the way the lugs curve into an arch made it extremely comfortable on the wrist. So much so, there were times I genuinely forgot that I had it on.
For all its implied simplicity, the case of the BR 05 boasts a masterful number of little details. The alternating finishes of straight brushed and polished surfaces catch the light in interesting ways. And thanks to the sort of stepped construction of the case, from the bezel to the mid-case to the lugs, this gives the watch even more angles that the light can reflect off. Then you peer into the dial and it draws you in with the sloped façade on the outer part of the dial that leads into the transparent blue dial and the skeletonised movement housed beneath.
The dial is yet another beautiful element of the BR 05 Skeleton Blue. Instead of the 12, 6 and 9 of the standard BR 05, you will get baton-style applied indices with this one. And Bell & Ross has also decided to do away with the date function, as I expect it can obstruct the view of the skeletonised movement. To me, this is better for the visual symmetry of the dial and speaks to a purer and more purposeful design. No date window here to cater to the needs of the masses, just a watch designed to do one thing and that is to tell time.
As far as the skeletonization of the calibre BR-CAL.322 goes, they didn’t take much off the movement at all. The baseplate has had some of its sections removed to reveal the barrel and the balance wheel but don’t expect to see through to the back a whole lot as most of it is still blocked by components. This view obstruction extends to the caseback as well where Bell & Ross decided to go with a full, round winding rotor that has been plated blue. I felt a half rotor would have been better to reveal more of that interesting movement beneath.
So, back to the pricing. What are you getting for the extra MYR 10,000? Well for one, you will be one of a thousand people to own this Bell & Ross design. The BR 05 Skeleton Blue is limited to 500 pieces with a rubber strap and 500 pieces with a stainless steel bracelet but nothing is stopping you from getting the other strap option from the Bell & Ross online store. Hence, it’s actually a 1,000-piece limited edition. Next, you will get a more visually stimulating dial, with hints of the balance wheel oscillating away at the back of the watch. And personally, I very much prefer the layout of this limited edition, with the baton-style applied indices and a design without the date window.
The Bell & Ross BR 05 Skeleton Blue limited edition will retail at MYR 28,500 with a rubber strap and MYR 31,000 with a stainless steel bracelet. Both can be purchased at the Bell & Ross boutiques or on their online store.
Case size: 40mm
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Movement: calibre BR-CAL.322, Automatic winding
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: MYR 28,500 with a rubber strap / MYR 31,000 with stainless steel bracelet