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Diving forces

Michelle Zhu
Michelle Zhu • 4 min read
Diving forces
Drawing from its expertise in the aeronautical and military domains, Bell & Ross adds two new designs to its BR03-92 square diving range this year
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Drawing from its expertise in the aeronautical and military domains, Bell & Ross adds two new designs to its BR03-92 square diving range this year

(July 17): Despite being a relative newcomer to the luxury watch segment, Bell & Ross has forged a strong brand identity with its military- and aviation-inspired timepieces, which have elements ranging from camouflage motifs to the “Isonorm” typeface used in analogue aviation counters. Established in 1992, the French brand of Swiss-made watches dove into the world of underwater timekeeping in 1997 with the Hydromax model.

As the first-ever dive watch to be developed by Bell & Ross, Hydromax quickly gained critical acclaim in the industry for its 11,100m water resistance, one of the most impressive records during its time. This was followed by the launch of the two-counter Diver 300 Chronograph and BR02 range in 2002 and 2007 respectively, before the brand’s evolving line of dive watches took a historic turn in 2017 with the BR03-92 Diver. Diverging from the rounded case of the typical dive watch, the new range took on Bell & Ross’ hallmark “circle within a square” design aesthetics, using the BR square and functional lines to reaffirm the brand’s ability to produce professional underwater instruments.

Diving watches by Bell & Ross are designed to meet specific demands of professionals on the job

The square diving watch model has since become a collection in its own right. This year, joining the 2017 Diver Black edition are two new versions of the model that were released as Baselworld 2019 novelties from Bell & Ross. One is an all-over matte black ceramic dive watch made using state-of-the-art technologies, and the other an inspirited military version that pays tribute to the historical roots of underwater exploration. Both are crafted and guaranteed to meet the rigorous ISO 6425 standards to qualify them as professional dive watches — with water resistance to a minimum depth of 100m; a unidirectional rotating bezel with a graduated minutes scale; an operation indicator and luminescent markers; legibility in the dark; as well as anti-shock and anti-magnetic protection.

Black to the future

As an incredibly hard-wearing and non-deformable material, ceramic is predominantly used in manufacturing parts for aeronautics, especially space, because of its ability to withstand everything from high temperatures and acid attacks, to corrosion and erosion. In line with these aeronautical codes so crucial to the Bell & Ross philosophy, matte black ceramic is used to craft the BR03-92 Diver Matte Black, which reinterprets the original values of the iconic -BR 01 in the form of a new must-have tool watch.

Clad in a full ceramic case reminiscent of the anti-reflective finish used on aircraft instrument panels, the matte black ceramic edition of the BR03-92 is a result of high-tech ceramic and a special in-house manufacturing process that enhances the intrinsic qualities of the material. This makes the watch case virtually scratch-proof — yet soft to the touch and thermo-regulated, meaning that it instantly reaches body temperature when worn. Reading the time in both broad daylight and darkness is especially effortless, given the watch’s sober design, black dial, large white numerals and photo-luminescent coating. It is water-resistant to 300m and comes with a woven black rubber and ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric, its pin buckle fashioned out of black PVD-coated steel.

Army daze

Olive green, the colour of the military camouflage uniform, as well as bronze come together for the first time via the BR03-92 Diver Green Bronze, resulting in a neo-retro and rugged aesthetic that captures the spirit of the military watch. Its case and bezel are made from bronze, the diving industry’s metal of choice and also the first known alloy to be developed by mankind more than 7,000 years ago. In the past, bronze was also used for deep-sea helmets and naval construction, as well as in fitting parts and propellers. Expect the metal to adopt beautiful tones of reddish brown or greyish green over time, owing to the formation of patina — an inalterable process that nonetheless gives the watch a robust and distinctive touch of its own.

The caseback of the BR03-92 Diver Green Bronze bears the engraving of a 1940s diver

This new limited-edition 42mm timepiece is water-resistant up to 300m and made with satin-polished CuSn8, an alloy comprising 92% copper and 8% tin. In a nod to the origins of underwater exploration, the model bears the engraving of a 1940s diver on its caseback. Its monochromatic olive dial is as readable in daylight as it is in darkness, thanks to its gold-plated appliqué indices with Superluminova inserts. While the khaki calfskin leather strap reinforces the watch’s genuine vintage spirit, it can also be replaced with a black rubber strap for professional diving purposes.

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