To the average spectator, Formula One is merely about which car takes the checkered flag first. To the discerning race pundit, however, it’s more than just a 61-lap high speed chase around the Marina Bay Circuit. What the pinnacle of motor sport racing really celebrates is the engineering prowess, innovation, and driver skills of its participating teams. Bell & Ross isn’t stranger to this world of motor racing — especially now that the brand is in its third year of partnership with Renault Sports Formula One Team — and it’s got three new R.S.18 Chronographs to show for it.
Reflecting on the new Renault single-seat racecar, Bell & Ross’ renewed collaboration is just as sporty and sophisticated as the previous two iterations, only instead of taking inspiration from the team’s iconic colours and steering wheel, it’s found a new focal point: The car’s chassis.
As the skeletal structure hidden beneath sprightly decals and bright paintwork, the complex structure is one of the most important aspects of a race car, yet often overlooked. This year, Bell & Ross translates the complex architecture into the three high-tech chronographs, effectively highlighting the extreme lightness and exceptional rigidity — two very contrasting qualities — into the timepieces.
As such, you’ll catch details that make these the quintessential driver’s watch. Their cases are engineered from perforated microblasted titanium, lending an understated matte aesthetic while keeping the watches lightweight and highly durable. Meanwhile, anti-reflective sapphire crystal ensures maximum legibility. Even the strap — black and perforated — is designed with unique ergonomics and breathability for long-wearing comfort.
All three chronographs are activated with rocker pushes — a racy touch that alludes to the paddles on a Formula One steering wheel — while the distinctive pops of colour around the chronograph functions are carefully chosen to make you feel like you’re always on the race tracks.
BR-X1 Tourbillon Chronograph R.S.18
Combining the athleticism of the chronograph with the mechanical pedigree of a flying tourbillon, this limited edition of 20 pieces is arguably the masterpiece of the series. The flying tourbillon is a hypnotic beauty, housed within a cage that’s secured to an axis to give the illusion of floating in space. Superluminova on the hands and indexes allow the watch to be read at night, while the skeletonised dial proudly exposes the watch’s BR-CAL.283 “engine”. A yellow thumb grip in the case at 9 o’clock not only adds a sporty touch to the timepiece, but also ensures ease of use under any circumstances.
BR03-94 R.S.18 Chronograph
Bell & Ross is a brand synonymous with aviation watches, but nonetheless has clearly managed to translate their classic square-case style to a vastly different mode of transport. The BR03-94 is a successful amalgamation of some of the most recognisable Formula One motifs — a carbon fibre dial sees the same red and yellow colourway accentuate the chronograph function, most notably with the red anodised aluminium pushers at the side of the case. Inside, the 42mm timepiece is driven by the self-winding Swiss mechanical BR-CAL.301; only 999 pieces of this limited edition timepiece will be made.
BR-X1 Chronograph R.S.18
The last of the R.S.18 series harnesses the very crux of a racing driver’s watch. Skeletonised to show off the “X”-shaped upper bridge in the calibre BR-CAL.313 within, the 45mm timepiece highlights its affinity with the Renault Sports Formula One team and the pinnacle of motor racing with yellow rubber pushers and its matching “thumb grip” cut on the case’s three o’clock. Red details around the date window and 30-minute counter follow the same colour code as the rest of the collection, while a tinted sapphire caseback puts Bell & Ross’ in-house movement right back in the spotlight again. Expect only 250 pieces of this technical marvel to be available.