Several years ago when I first began to really indulge my interest in watches, Bell & Ross was one of the first brands outside the household names that I became aware of. I can distinctly remember walking into a Tourneau and seeing the Bell & Ross display prominently featured to my right immediately as I entered. Under the glass I saw a bunch of square watches that looked like some combination of a children’s toy, an aircraft instrument, and avant-garde design objects. I was so new to watches at the time that I even remember having an intrinsic understanding, from the watches and marketing materials alone, that Bell & Ross was surely some manner of historic watch brand that must be an insider’s secret.
Hey, I was new. I definitely hadn’t discovered Worn & Wound or any other watch related websites by this point, and was probably taking my cues mostly from StyleForum and advertisements in glossy magazines. Bell & Ross, of course, is not a historical watch brand. They were founded in 1992 by Bruno Belamich and Carlos A. Rosillo, and eventually gained traction with their BR series of square cased watches with circular dials, made to look like gauges on the instrument clusters you’d find in an airplane. Bell & Ross sought out opportunities to bolster their reputation as an aviator’s brand, and became the official supplier of watches to the French space program and the French Air Force.