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this is bell ross time to fly

This is Bell & Ross’ time to fly

After years of dabbling with landbound vehicles, Bell & Ross, famous for its aviation timepieces, finally designed an aeroplane

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

23 Apr 2018

Bell & Ross is quite an odd timepiece company. Since their inception, they’ve constantly pulled inspirations from the world of aviation. To be specific, Bell & Ross watches reinterprets cues from the instrument panel from vintage aeroplanes. You can clearly see the influence especially on models with the square case.

And yet, when its time came for them to design vehicles, Bell & Ross decided to ground their designs on landbound vehicles with aeronautical forms, namely the B-Rocket (2014), Aero-GT (2016) and Bellytanker (2017). Very odd.

Now, finally, Bell & Ross have done the most sensible thing, they’ve designed an aeroplane, called the BR-Bird, that could compete in the Reno Air Races. Although the BR-Bird is a single-seat, propeller-engine aeroplane, it looks something from science fiction.

Unlike traditionally styled single-seaters where the cockpit is placed close to the nose or between the wings, the BR-Bird’s cockpit is positioned as far back as possible. The 10.31m wings, short and broad, are placed on the opposite side, close to the propellers. The more head-scratching thing about the BR-Bird is its empennage, which is Y-configured instead of the usual fuselage mounted, V or even X configurations. B&R said that this is to improve manoeuvrability.

Graphite, fibreglass, titanium and aluminium alloy are used to put form to the racer that’s 9.5m in length and 1.66m in height. Power comes from an RR V12-60NG, which is based on a Rolls-Royce Merlin, capable of propelling the plane to a top speed of 909kph.

Of course, there are timepieces to go with the aircraft and both take inspiration from the BR-Bird. There are two versions of the timepieces – the three-hand 38.5mm BR V1-92 Racing Bird and the chronograph 41mm BR V2-94, both feature self-winding mechanical movement.

Colours and typography for the timepieces are the same used in the aircraft and the date-window shows three days in one go, referencing the aeroplane’s instrumentation. Depending on the model, you can spy a tiny version of the BR-Bird on one of the hands. And naturally, the BR-Bird also appears on the case back.

Price of the BR V1-92 is RM10,500 while the BR V2-94 is RM19,200 for the calfskin strap and RM20,700 for the bracelet. Each version has a limited run of 999 pieces.

At the very least, if the aeroplane never takes off, you can still wear the concept on your wrist.