Bell & Ross CEO and co-founder Carlos-Antonio Rosillo shares his views on the new BR05
SINGAPORE (Dec 2): Dressed in a sharp suit with an unlit cigar in hand, Carlos-Antonio Rosillo is the epitome of class. The CEO and co-founder of Bell & Ross also displays a wit and charm as he talks about his company, especially its latest BR05 collection. Bell & Ross specialises in watches inspired by aviation, in particular, aeronautical instruments. The brand’s mission is to invent, design and manufacture exclusive and perfectly functional timepieces for professionals working under extreme conditions. In its La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture in Switzerland, Bell & Ross perpetuates the Swiss art of luxury watchmaking.
Rosillo, who was born in Paris in 1965, started Bell & Ross with his childhood friend and associate Bruno Belamich. A common passion for the watch industry brought the two together to create utilitarian watches suitable for professional use, while adhering to strict military specifications where function takes precedence over design.
Their longtime dream project came to fruition in 1992 and Bell & Ross is today an international company with a presence in 70 countries through a network of more than 800 retailers and 15 exclusive boutiques.
The brand commercialised its first collection, the Space 1, in 1994. It was the first automatic chronometer to be worn in space, by German astronaut Reinhart Furrer on the Spacelab mission in 1983. After the launch of this collection, the Bell & Ross’ high standards have been recognised by many other professional organisations, such as the French Air Force, Raid, submariners and anti-mine military squads.
Options met with Rosillo to get to know the man behind the brand. Following are excerpts from the interview.
What is your recollection of the first timepiece you owned?
I inherited my first timepiece from my grandfather; it was a pocket watch. And later, some other watches from my father. Through my grandfather and father, my interest in watches grew. Then, there is my friend, a watch collector, Bruno Belamich, whom I met when we were only 14 years old. We later started Bell & Ross. The combination of heritage from my grandfather and father, as well as having a designer friend, built the heritage we now have.
What is your strategy for where you want to take Bell & Ross?
We plan to develop brand awareness and to continue to teach people who we are, where we stand and where we want to go from here.
Who are your customers?
For our latest BR05 collection, we are targeting the urban explorer. We have supplied watches to the heroes of aviation and the drivers of Formula One, and now we are going into the city with the latest collection.
What steps has Bell & Ross taken to attract a younger customer base?
With the latest BR05, we are going into the city and targeting our customers who are very young. And I think that being a very flexible, modern and young brand, we speak to those people through digital communication platforms [to inform them about our products]. We are a modern brand.
Can you tell us about this year’s new collection?
We are very well known for our iconic square-shaped watches, as well as our vintage round watches. What we have achieved with the new BR05 collection is to soften the square case and integrate it with the bracelet. So, this is what we have done to evolve the BR05 into an iconic watch.
Asia and especially Hong Kong now is a challenge. What steps are you taking to overcome the issues?
We have to cope with the current issues and learn to adapt. We are a team that works together and our Hong Kong team went to Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to share with us what was happening there. They keep us updated and that is very important.
What have you planned for the next 12 months?
We have plans, and they are good plans. But all I can say for now is that we want to enjoy making beautiful watches and we want to lead the way. The BR05 collection is an important one and it’s not just a one-off collection. We plan to develop this collection without forgetting the past.
Made for urban explorers
Bell & Ross’ latest collection, the BR05, takes the company from the aviation watch market to the urban sports watch segment. Faithful to the brand’s watchwords of legibility, functionality, reliability and precision, this new model has an urban look and feel.
The BR05 represents a combination of designs from Bell & Ross’ existing collections. The lines of its case combine round and square shapes, the basic geometric shapes that form part of the brand’s identity. The BR05 sports a round face in a square integrated case that is fused with the bracelet, creating a seamless piece.
Bruno Belamich, Bell & Ross’ co-founder and creative director, says: “This integration of case and bracelet is not only in line with the brand’s visual identity, it also brings another dimension to the watch: The first link forms part of the case. This type of design harks back to the 1970s, and when transposed to Bell & Ross, it creates a result with a graphic style that is both striking and modern.”
With an angular 40mm case and flat, satin-finished surfaces, the BR05 was made to draw attention. The alternating satinfinished and polished surfaces are also found on the flexible steel bracelet. The brand has paid particular attention to the arc of the curve, allowing all the components to be perfectly aligned and ensuring the bracelet can adapt to any wrist.
For those who prefer a sportier look, the BR05 is also available with a ribbed rubber strap. The BR05’s dial also comes in silver grey, navy blue or deep black.