When we talk about the popularity of integrated bracelet sports watches, we should keep in mind that it’s not just the standard issue, integrated bracelet watch that’s important to brands who are playing in this market. It’s the platform of an integrated bracelet sports watch. The release of the new Bell & Ross BR 05 chronograph seen here is perhaps one of the most predictable watch releases of the year – of course Bell & Ross would seek to expand the BR 05 line with a complication. We see this in virtually every other integrated bracelet watch line, forming small collections within collections, locking in a style and design language as new watches are pushed out. This, honestly, is the type of watch you look at and wonder if it’s actually a new release – you could have sworn it already existed. I think that speaks to the distinctive look Bell & Ross has created with the BR 05 line, which seems to have grown naturally out of the square case “Instrument” line of watches that they’re so well known for.
Zach W reviewed the BR 05 back in March. If you haven’t already, you should definitely go back and read that one, as it provides what I think is an honest and fair evaluation of the BR 05’s relative value (or lack of it) as well as its significant accomplishments in making a well finished, integrated bracelet sports watch readily available to watch fans, without the complexity and difficulties of wait lists, fostering AD relationships, or hitting the gray market. While we haven’t seen the BR 05 chronograph in person, we certainly expect that case and bracelet finishing, a highlight of the original, is of a similar quality here, and the squared off shape is still typically Bell & Ross, drawing on their trademark instrument inspired aviation watches and bringing those design principles into the context of a integrated bracelet sports watch.
The BR 05 case is deceptively complex, with both soft and hard angles, and a variety of finishing techniques employed. The chronograph function adds to that complexity, with rectangular pushers on the right case flank that seem to be embedded within a set of crown guards. Vertical brushing is met with high polish from edge to edge, which should allow for some interesting light play in person. The case is about 42mm across and 13.5mm thick, which is a fair bit chunkier than the time and date BR 05, so this should have some significant wrist presence. We’ll of course hold off on rendering a wearability verdict until we can, well, wear it, but those dimensions would tend to imply that this particular integrated sports watch doesn’t have the same sleek, thin appeal of some of its far more costly and hard to come by competitors.
The dial, of course, has some substantive differences when compared with the simple time and date version. Registers at 3:00 and 9:00 have the same square-ish shape of the case, providing a pleasing contrast with the circular dial. Each subdial has a gray border around it, with the interior featuring a snailing effect. They appear to be very nicely executed and, along with the applied hour markers and polished and applied numerals at 6 an 12, provide some much needed texture and depth to the dial, which on the original BR 05 was a fairly simple and flat affair. Also making a return on the BR 05 chronograph is the famous Bell & Ross 4:30 date window, which was strangely absent on the earlier watch.
The BR 05 chronograph is available in both black and blue variants, on your choice of a bracelet or rubber strap. Powering the watch is the automatic BR-CAL.301, a modified ETA 2894-2 with 42 hours of power reserve. On a strap, the BR 05 chronograph will set you back $5,900, with the bracelet version priced at $6,400. More info at Bell & Ross here.