I think the best way to describe the new Bell & Ross BR 03 41mm collection is “small changes, big impact”. On paper not a lot has changed compared to the existing 42mm model that was originally launched in 2006 and updated again in 2014. However, the newest additions are dramatically superior.
There are three main areas in which the BR 03 41mm has been updated. The size, the colours and the movement. Each one has an impact on the collection but in my opinion the latter is the most significant. However, as the first two are easier to notice since they’re structural and visual updates, let’s start there.
The change from 42mm to 41mm might sound small, it’s only a 1mm difference after all, yet that shouldn’t be overlooked. The square case of the BR 03 at any size makes it seem far bigger than it really is and since 42mm is already large, that feeling gets multiplied. Don’t get me wrong, at 41mm it’s still big but words like ‘mammoth’ and ‘huge’ drop out of the vocabulary. Plus, the lug size has changed from 4.5mm to just 4mm.
There are eight versions of the Bell & Ross BR 03 41mm available, four with steel cases and four in microblasted black ceramic. In steel you have the standard black and white edition, a blue version, a copper one and lastly a rich brown one called Golden Heritage. On the ceramic side is another black and white reference, a heritage black and beige one, a military edition in olive green and then the full black Phantom. All of them feature the same display with oversize Arabic numerals, large hands and a tiny date window tucked away between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Now we get to the movement, which is the new generation of BR-CAL.302. Instead of the 38-hour power reserve of the previous 302 the new one has a 54-hour power reserve. This is a change that I have been hoping to see from Bell & Ross for a long time as it really helps to justify the not insignificant price. Plus, the quality-of-life improvement that the increased power reserve represents cannot be understated. It can now hit all the buzz phrases people like to use like weekend-proof.
Of course, part of the credit for the improved power reserve has to go to Sellita. They’ve been very quietly upgrading a number of their movements and as such we’re seeing lots of brands like Bell & Ross reap the benefits. The Sellita SW200-1, arguably one of the most widely used Swiss calibres on the market, now has a 41-hour power reserve up from 38-hours, as seen in the Oris Divers Sixty-Five. The BR-CAL.302 is based on the SW300-1 a. Is this the long-awaited death of the sub-40-hour power reserve?
As for pricing, it varies reference to reference so there’s no easy way to talk about them except to list them. So here we go: Black Steel £3,200, Blue Steel £3,200, Golden Heritage £3,500, Copper £3,500, Black Matte £3,700, Heritage £3,800, Phantom £3,900 and Military Ceramic £3,900. A few of these colourways have equivalents in the existing 42mm collection and we can see that models like the Phantom have actually increased in price by £300, although others like the Blue Steel haven’t changed at all. Ultimately, I think the BR 03 41mm’s improvements outweigh any increase in price and as such this is one of the best value watches B&R have produced.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Bell & Ross BR 03
- Ref: BR03A-BL-CE/SRB (Black Matte)
BR03A-MIL-CE/SRB (Military Ceramic)
BR03A-BL-ST/SRB (Black Steel)
BR03A-BLU-ST/SCA (Blue Steel)
BR03A-GH-ST/SCA (Golden Heritage)
- Case/dial: 41mm wide x 10.60mm thickness, black ceramic or stainless steel case, black matte/khaki matte dial (ceramic) or black/brown sunray/gilt copper/blue sunray dial (steel)
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Bell & Ross calibre BR-CAL.302, automatic
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 54h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
- Strap: Black rubber (black matte, phantom, black steel), khaki rubber (military), brown calfskin (heritage, golden heritage, copper), blue calfskin (blue steel,
- Price/availability: £3,200 (black steel, blue steel), £3,500 (golden heritage, copper), £3,700 (black matte), £3,800 (heritage), £3,900 (military ceramic)