Published on June 24th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Bell & Ross showpiece: the BR 03 Rafale
Revealed at this year’s Basel World convention, this 500-unit run takes the Bell & Ross aesthetic and identity well into the future via all-new style and military technology transfer. Having moved on from PVD to make many of its BR series cases in ceramic, Bell & Ross is now celebrating 10 years of the world’s most recognisable square watch with a series of limited editions that focus attention back on its inspiration. Aviation, and in the case of the BR03-94 Rafale, the innovative fighter jet built by Dassault Aviation for the French Navy and Air Force.
The innovative fighter plane (which replaced seven different models when it entered service in 2004) is recognised in the high-performance materials deployed in the BR03-94 Rafale including its 42mm matte black ceramic case. Inside, is the automatic mechaniccal BR-CAL 301 chronograph movement, with a small seconds at 3 o’clock and 30-minute elapsed time counter at 9 o’clock onto which is printed a silhouette of the aircfraft.
The distinctive features of the Rafale is continued on the monochrome camouflage grey dial, the numerals typifying the reference numbers on the plane’s fugelage and the orange-tipped hands dedicated to the chronograph functions (the colour of essential features and test flights).
Superluminova-filled numerals, indices and hour and minute hands continue the military spec, and the strap is made from black rubber and features a pin buckle in black PVD. Limited to 500 pieces, the BR03-94 Rafale was launched at the International Paris Air Show this week, and was pride of place for the opening of Bell & Ross’ first London store, a two-storey atelier in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade.
The most striking element of this USD6,200 watch is its case, which eschews the typical milled alloys and stainless steel of most watches from this hot French marque. By swapping metal for ceramic, the Rafale promises to be a real featherweight on the wrist.
The big-watch trend takes some time to get used to on your wrist. You learn the special way to slide the 42-mm (and especially the massive 46-mm) cases under shirt cuffs, and how to wear it so movement is minimal and no chafing occurs. Setting hands down softly on tables is also needed to avoid banging it around. By far the biggest adjustment to wearing any large watch, however, is the weight. Though you come to enjoy the feel, the heft can be off-putting to some.