Bell & Ross has always been passionate about military history, design, and values. In its quest of excellence, the brand has made aviation, especially aeronautical instruments, its main specialty. That ethos continues till today with the BR 03-94 Patrouille de France.
Patrouille de France is the French Air and Space Force’s official aerobatic display team, created in 1953. Considered as one of the most precise and aesthetic acrobatic flying team in the world, the patrouille de France has flown around the world with grace and elegance for more than 67 years.
Chosen by the armée de l’Air et de l’Espace (French Air and Space Force) to become the official watchmaking partner of the patrouille de France, Bell & Ross worked closely with the pilots and designed a chronograph which is perfectly adapted to their operational needs.
The Ultimate Professional Reference
Produced in 500 pieces, the dial of BR 03-94 Patrouille de France proudly and elegantly bears the team’s insignia. The circle represents the cohesion of the operational unit and its ability to tackle every aspect of a situation. The gold of the emblem’s background is a colour widely used in military insignia.
The nine jet silhouettes evoke nine Fouga Magister (former patrouille de France’s aircraft before the Alpha jet) and represent their signature aerial display formation also known as the “Concorde”. The tricolour banner which wraps the logo symbolizes the French coloured smoke and acrobatic evolutions of the flying team, “ambassador” of the French Air and Space Force.
The patrouille de France logo is printed at the bottom of the dial and also engraved on the case back. The timepiece is attached to a black natural rubber strap.
A Measuring Tool For Elite Pilots
Design motifs aside, Bell & Ross has created both an emblematic and functional watch that meets the specific requirements of these skilled pilots. The case for the new BR 03-94 Patrouille de France is made of high-tech ceramic.
This material holds a privileged position in the aerospace sector, with uses including the manufacture of parts subject to high temperatures, exposure to acids, corrosion, and erosion. It is also found in the design of heat shields and noses for rockets.
Ticking within the case is a mechanical chronograph movement with automatic winding which offers tried-and-tested reliability. Available to the public, an identical limited to 100 pieces quartz edition version of this watch will outfit the patrouille de France flying team.
As an essential tool in aerial navigation for measuring short time periods, the chronograph is the main complication of aviation. It is equipped with a bi-directional bezel with a 60-minute scale to mark intervals in time.
Synchronization is fundamental for these pilots especially when, they chain together several scenes with 2, 4, 6 or 8 jets. Their safety and quality of the show rely on that. Having generally, eight pilots sometimes nine flying as one at over 600km/h, subjected to accelerations exceeding 6g, precision must be absolute.
It is the same for their watches. Thought for an optimal readability of the pilot while flying, the chronograph seconds hand features in the centre of the dial which is the most important time measurement tool.
The numerals, indexes and hands are white and photoluminescent to ensure perfect visibility both day and night. Designed for a professional use, the insignia was placed on the dial, so it does not disturb the readability. This logo also features on their dashboards’ plane.
(Images: Bell & Ross)