Watchmakers are no strangers to the cockpit. Brands like Breitling have forged their identities as timekeepers for the aviators who navigate our skies. Likewise, Bell & Ross was founded with designs directly influenced by the golden age of aviation. However, it is not everyday that a watchmaker, influenced by flight instruments, puts their assemblage skills to something on the runway instead of the wrist.
Yet, Bell & Ross are not amateur engineers for high speed vehicles. With the same precision and mastery they apply to horology, the watchmakers have previously launched some enthralling racing machines of their own. The B-Rocket was the first of these, in 2014 — an homage to the prototype motorcycles of the 1950s, designed to break land speed records.
Two years later came the Aero GT, a supercar with the sci-fi silhouette of the Rafale, followed by the Bellytanker in 2017, a design reminiscent of the drop tanks used by the fighter jets of the 1940s. It only seems natural that after designing racing cars inspired by aeronautical shapes, Bell & Ross is now ready to take to the skies with a high-speed, competition ready plane.
Behold, the BR-Bird, a single-seat, propeller-engine aircraft, built entirely of graphite, fiberglass, titanium and aluminum alloy. The brainchild of Bruno Belamich, Bell & Ross’s co-founder and creative director, the BR-Bird is powered by a V12 Rolls Royce Falcon, the Merlin base engineers who built the legendary Spitfire.
The cockpit of the BR-Bird is situated as far back as possible, evoking the automobiles of drag racing, whilst its short and broad wings are placed very far forward. The design harks back to the Comet DH.88 of the 1930s and the P51 Mustang of the 1940s. Finally, with a Y-shaped empennage, the plane stands out aesthetically but also gives it maneuverability.
Bell & Ross have ensured the design of the three-hand and chronograph Racing Bird watches match up to the speed and performance of their plane. Equally pleasing to the eye, the timepieces have a white dial with blue bezel numerals, chronograph counter and strap, modelled after the empennage and decorative elements tracing the aerodynamic lines of the BR-Bird. The central second hand, details on the dial and lining of the leather strap are orange — the colour highlighting the most important information on flight instruments.
With a 38.5 mm steel case for the BRV1-92 and a 41 mm for the BRV2-94, they are both powered by a self-winding mechanical movement and water resistant up to 100 meters. The numerals on the dial use the same typography as the on-board counters, and the date window shows three numerals – a direct reference to flight instrumentation. The final touch is a silhouette of the aircraft on the case back and at the base of the second hand (on the three-hand version) and the second timer (on the chronograph version.)