Hands-On: the Bell & Ross BR-X5 Green Lum & BR 03 Cyber Ceramic

Make no mistake, I’m grateful to be able to write about watches. Doing so opens a lot of doors and brings about some great opportunities. Many fantastic new watches are delivered to my door, and often weeks will pass without needing to pick something to wear from my own watch box. However, there are times when a new watch is in such demand, or produced in such limited numbers, that a loan is not easy to come by. The BR-X5 Green Lum is one such watch. Spending some time with it would mean leaving the warmth and comfort of my own home and venturing up to London’s Bell & Ross boutique. It’s a ‘hardship’ I’m willing to take, and an opportunity I’m still thankful for. So, accompanied by ‘wrist model’ and Bell & Ross fan Jeremy, I trekked up to the Big Smoke to go hands-on with this bright and bold addition to the BR-X5 line, and also had some surprise wrist time with the brand new BR 03 Cyber Ceramic.

First up is the Green Lum ($13,300). When the BR-X5 line was launched in late 2022, it represented a serious advancement in the Bell & Ross brand identity. For as long as I can remember, the square watch has been Bell & Ross’s calling card. Think square: think Bell & Ross. The successful BR05 model family saw the brand pushing into the integrated-bracelet sports watch arena, rounding off a few square edges while still maintaining a familiar dial layout. Outside of those product lines Bell & Ross has also regularly added to and updated its ‘Concept’ range, which is a playground of wilder cases and materials, skeletonized movements and skulls.

Now, the BR-X5 falls closer to the archetypal Instrument range than the Concept range, but the extravagance of luminescent fiberglass composite is starting to nudge against some boundaries. 


The case of the BR-X5 is based on the BR05, but with some added X-factor. The standard steel case is replaced by a multi-part construction of grade 2 titanium and ‘LM3D’ luminescent fiberglass. The result is a lightweight piece with alternating layers that give pointers to its composition.

Despite its bombastic appearance, the BR-X5 is fairly modest in size and very wearable, at 41mm in diameter and under 13mm in height. The black rubber strap, which starts from the sharply downturned integrated lugs, provides a secure and comfortable fit. The result is a watch that almost feels low key – until you look at it. Even in bright daylight the Green Lum makes a statement, and you only have to position the watch in your own shadow for it to start glowing.

As mentioned above, the classic Bell & Ross look made famous by the BR01 and BR03 models consists of a square case, housing a simple dial with large numerals at the cardinal points, and equally large sword hands. Simple, yet distinctive. The BR05 is one step removed from this strong instrument aesthetic with softer lines and polished baton hands. In the BR-X5, the indices are also gone, accommodating a busier dial elsewhere. There isn’t much left to tie the watch back to those aviation roots.

The left hand side of the dial vaunts the 3-day power reserve of the BR-CAL.323 manufacture movement made by Kenissi. On the other side is an extended date window. Nothing is quite as eye-catching as the  lumed case, but the dial honestly isn’t far behind. Almost as cool, and quite a bit more useful.

However, I can’t help but feel that Bell & Ross have prioritized aesthetic balance over function. There is no need for the whole perimeter of the power reserve register to have lume applied, while a date window with three whole days visible gives a perfect opportunity to apply lume to the date. 

Small gripes aside, the 500-piece limited edition Green Lum is an apt enhancement to the BR-X5 line. What sits at the forefront of the Bell & Ross instrument progression now has a case option that expresses its noteworthiness from afar. 

If the BR-X5 Green Lum is pushing the boundaries of the ‘standard’ Bell & Ross lines, the new BR 03 Cyber Ceramic sits squarely in the ‘Concept’ arena. This case, both in sculpted style and ceramic material, have been used before by Bell & Ross, but if you’ve ever seen the BR 01 Cyber Skull in person then you don’t even need to bring it close to your wrist to know that the 45mm case will wear very large.

It feels slightly strange to describe a skeletonized movement in a 42mm, square, matt black, faceted, ceramic case as reserved, but the BR 03 Cyber Ceramic ($13,400) is nowhere near as wild as you might think. The lug to lug length is less than 44mm, and once again the high-quality rubber strap gives a comfortable wearing experience. 

Sure, the watch isn’t the easiest to read, the case is aggressive and a little thick, and despite not overtly brandishing a skull I can still make out the semblance of one formed by the barrel, screws and balance-wheel. Despite all of that, the watch is less outlandish and far more agreeable than I imagined. I just don’t know whether that’s a good thing.

The BR 03 Cyber Ceramic is again limited to 500 pieces, and both watches are demonstrations of what the brand has both the ability and the imagination to do. Neither of the two watches I spent time with is intended to be an exemplar of the current Bell & Ross offerings, but I’m hopeful that each one hints at where they might be heading. Bell & Ross

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.