Since its release last year, I’ve adored Bell & Ross’s answer to the Genta-esque trend for sporty, industrial steel watches, the BR05. It’s slightly more elegant than their usually rigid square pieces ripped out of a cockpit but still retains the overall characteristic look of the brand.
It’s every bit as functional of course, just with a more nuanced style and, compared to the rest of the sports luxe stable its competing with, rather affordable. But enough waxing lyrical about that particular watch; we’re here instead to talk about the newest addition, the BR05 Chronograph.
I’ve always felt like the purity of the BR05 didn’t need a chronograph. I assumed it would upset the otherwise minimal geometry of the piece and the simplistic clarity of the dial. I still don’t think I was wrong… but the way Bell & Ross has gone about the new piece has very nearly sold me on it.
For one, the chronograph pushers and crown guard they’re mounted on are nicely squared and suite the dimensions of the watch perfectly. The way they’re mounted on the sloping sides of the 42mm stainless steel case means it still feels its size, and using it is far more satisfying than it has any right to be. It’s incredibly well machined too, with a simple brushed finish leaning into the industrial stylistic roots.
The dial has been left almost untouched, with the addition of two chronograph counters that mirror the shape of the bezel in grey against the black (or blue if you insist). It’s a great neo-retro touch taken straight out of the 70s. The oversized 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock of the main dial are joined by the 60 and 30 of the running seconds and chronograph minutes respectively. Otherwise it’s about as minimal as a chronograph can be.
My only gripe in that regard would be the date. Oddly off-centre at 5:30-ish, it upsets the OCD symmetry and I would like to see a version without.
On the wrist it feels smaller than it looks; a 42mm square watch is a substantial amount of steel, but thanks to the integrated bracelet it’s relatively slim lug-to-lug. The watch comes on either a stainless-steel bracelet or a rubber number. As you can see, the bracelet suits it nicely in an unobtrusive kind of way, but I do prefer the look of the black rubber.
With a 100m water resistance, this isn’t a diving watch by any stretch of the imagination, again suiting the sports luxe crowd nicely. It’s about style over practicality after all, steel case or no. Equipped with an in-house calibre BR-CAL.301 and a respectable 42-hour power reserve, the automatic movement’s based on the ever-reliable ETA 2894-2.
When it comes to sports luxe, I still find that the BR05 is one of the few watches in that field I could justify shelling out for and, now, I’d say the same of the Chronograph. I’d still opt for the time-only version myself, but for the many, many Genta-obsessed chrono lovers out there, the BR05 Chronograph is a seriously stylish contender.
Price & Specs:
Model: Bell & Ross BR05 Chronograph
Case/Dial: 42mm diameter, stainless steel
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.301 automatic, chronograph, 37 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4Hz)
Power reserve: 42h
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, small seconds at 3 o’clock, 30 minute timer at 9 o’clock
Strap: Stainless steel or rubber
Price/availability: £4,800 (rubber strap) and £5,200 (bracelet)
More details at Bell & Ross.