Bell & Ross has become a formidable force in the watchmaking scene in recent years, growing to become a key player in retro pilot’s watch and technical tool watch designs. However, not every aspect of their watchmaking has grown in the same way, leaving their low power reserve movements based on Sellita calibres feeling a tad underwhelming. Now though, Bell & Ross are debuting a new manufacture calibre inside a supped-up form of the BR 05 called the BR-X5.
When I say that the Bell & Ross BR-X5 is an upgraded version of the BR 05, I’m not just talking about the movement – which we’ll talk about in detail later – I’m talking about the entire watch. The case, the dial, everything, it’s all been given a fresh makeover.
From above, the case looks more or less as it always has done. An angular, square design with pronounced crown guards and a rounded-square bezel with four screws. However, when you look at it from the side, you can see that it has a concave construction with a recessed case middle. This has been achieved by totally redesigning the structure of the case, which is now formed of five separate parts held together by those four screws. Those parts are the bezel, top plate, movement container, bottom plate and caseback.
The result makes the watch lighter without sacrificing any of the existing specs of the BR 05. For example, the BR-X5 still has a water resistance rating of 100m. Although, these changes do make the steel case slightly larger at a diameter of 41mm and a thickness of 12.8mm, presented on either an integrated steel bracelet or rubber strap. But I feel that plays into the whole attitude of this being the uber-BR 05.
As for the dial, which is available in either black or ice blue with sunray finishing, the primary change is the addition of a new complication and a redesign of an old one. Specifically, the date window at 3 o’clock has been expanded to create an oversize arc while at 9 o’clock a circular power reserve indicator has been added. To accommodate these larger features the previous oversize Arabic numeral hour markers have been replaced with simple applied indexes. Additionally, the flange now sports a 60-second scale with an arrow at 3 o’clock pointing to the date.
At last, we come to the manufacture movement housed inside, which is the new BR-CAL 323. made alongside the experts at Kenissi – the Tudor founded movement producer who have worked with top brands like Breitling and Chanel. Instead of the relatively low 38-hour power reserve of the BR-CAL. 321 found in the BR 05, the new movement has a reserve of 70-hours. It’s a lot more impressive and dramatically more practical, as it’s well and truly weekend proof, meaning you can put it down on Friday and pick it up on Monday without having to make any adjustments. Although if you do need to make any adjustments it has a quick change date so it’s very easy to do so.
To rattle off a few more specs about the BR-CAL. 323, it has a frequency of 28,800 vph and it has COSC chronometer certification. It’s actually the first COSC movement produced by Bell & Ross, making it all the more impressive. The movement is visible through the BR-X5’s exhibition caseback, allowing you to view its mechanisms and sports car-wheel inspired rotor.
But wait, there’s more! In addition to the black and ice blue steel models, there’s also a limited edition version. The limited edition BR-X5 has the same proportions and structure as its steel counterparts with the exception that it’s made from a combination of carbon fibre and DLC coated titanium. It heightens to sportiness of the design, something which is emphasised yet further by its orange rubber strap. Inside, it houses the new BR.CAL 323 as well.
Of the three models, my favourite is the 500 piece limited edition, purely because I’m a sucker for orange and black colourways in all things. Although the regular steel models are both cool and more accessible at £5,900 on rubber strap and £6,500 on steel bracelet, compared to the carbon BR-X5 at £10,300.
It’s worth noting that all three prices are a fair bit higher than the regular BR 05 but between the new case and great movement, I think opting for the Bell & Ross BR-X5 is probably worth it.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Bell & Ross BR-X5
- Ref: BRX5R-BL-ST/SRB (Black Steel with rubber strap)
BRX5R-BL-ST/SST (Black Steel with stainless steel bracelet)
BRX5R-IB-ST/SRB (Ice Blue Steel with rubber strap)
BRX5R-IB-ST/SST (Ice Blue Steel with stainless steel bracelet)
BRX5R-BO-TC/SRB (Carbon Orange)
- Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 12.80mm thickness, stainless steel case, sunray black or ice blue dial (Black Steel and Ice Blue Steel) or titanium and carbon fibre case, matte black dial (Carbon Orange)
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Bell & Ross calibre BR-CAL.323, automatic
- Power reserve: 70h (Black Steel and Ice Blue Steel) and 72h (Carbon Orange)
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet or black rubber strap (Black Steel and Ice Blue Steel) or orange rubber strap (Carbon Orange)
- Price/availability: £5,900 (rubber strap), £6,500 (stainless steel bracelet) (Black Steel and Ice Blue Steel) and £10,300, limited to 500 pieces (Carbon Orange Limited Edition)