Before I was really into watches as a collector or enthusiast, I can remember walking into a Tourneau store in a mall in the Boston suburbs and being drawn to the strange, square cased watches displayed prominently as I entered the space. I’m sure I was just killing time before a movie or meeting a friend, but somehow those watches, made by a brand I had no knowledge of, imprinted something on me. I don’t remember any of the other watches I encountered that day, or any other, at that same Tourneau. But the Bell & Ross BR 03 made an impression. It wasn’t even that I liked it – I just found them so unusual and distinctive. And for someone on the outside of the watch world looking in, these watches were an early point of fascination.
The BR 03, in my view, is one of the truly iconic modern watch designs for this very reason. It pulls in the curious window shopper in a way that a traditionally shaped watch can’t. Now, Bell & Ross is updating the BR 03 with a subtly reworked case. In these Bell & Ross supplied images, it’s honestly hard to see the changes (I’d really like to see one side by side with an older version of the watch), but based on the tale of the tape, it should make for an improved and more ergonomic wearing experience, which is no small feat for a watch that is known (and loved) for its inherent, charming, ungainliness.
The big change is a full millimeter reduction in the case size, going from 42mm to 41mm. On a square watch, that’s going to make for a significant impact in how the watch presents on the wrist simply because of the nature of a square. Reducing one side in length necessitates reducing all sides to keep everything in proportion, obviously, so the total physical area that the watch occupies on the wrist is reduced by quite a bit more than just one millimeter. I’ll let a geometry expert take on the math in the comments.
To match the case, the lugs have also been slimmed down, going from a width of 4.5mm to 4mm. Bell & Ross says that the changes in case dimensions had a ripple effect throughout the rest of the watch: the corners are softer, and the hands have been shortened slightly. Bell & Ross also gave the new BR 03 a movement upgrade. It now features the BR-CAL.302, which has an improved power reserve of 54 hours.
To mark the launch of the new case, Bell & Ross is introducing it in a total of eight different variants. There are four references in stainless steel (dials in black, blue, a sunburst brown Bell & Ross calls “Golden Heritage,” and an all new option in a copper color) and another four in ceramic. The ceramic cased dial options include Black Matte (with stark white dial accents), Phantom (totally blacked out), Heritage (copper colored accents against a black dial), and a brand new Military Ceramic colorway featuring a green khaki dial.
Prices for the new Bell & Ross BR 03 range from $3,600 to $4,300. They are available now through the Bell & Ross website and authorized dealers. Bell & Ross