When Bell & Ross returned to the water last year with the BR03-92 Diver after a decade-long hiatus (the last diving watch it made was the BR02 in 2007), people were enthralled, and for one particular reason: it had the iconic square case that’s usually found on the brand’s aviation timepieces. As a rule of thumb, diving watches have round cases because it’s just easier to engineer them for waterproofness. Bell & Ross had to heavily modify its iconic square case to achieve this in the BR03-92 Diver, which is water resistant to 300 metres, well beyond the 100-metre depth prescribed by the ISO 6425 standard for diving watches. The watch also meets the standard’s other criteria, of course. They include a unidirectional rotating bezel, an operation indicator (in this case the running seconds hand), luminescent markers, plus shock and magnetic resistance. The result: the first true square timepiece that meets diving watch requirements.
A Return to the Deep Blue
The roaring success of the BR03-92 Diver meant that it was only a matter of time before Bell & Ross crafted more diving watches in the same spirit. At Baselworld this year, the brand did just that, expanding the Diver range with two new watches – the BR03-92 Diver Blue and Diver Bronze. The former is essentially the azure counterpart of last year’s watch, with its hue chosen to represent the sea. The indices are coated in white SuperLuminova to achieve maximum legibility underwater while the hour hand is rendered in yellow. As colours fade at different rates with increasing depth, the yellow hour hand will turn invisible first. This gives precedence to the minute hand, which is used with the bezel to track elapsed time underwater.
The key differentiator in the limited edition BR03-92 Diver Bronze besides the bezel and case material is the caseback, which features an intricate engraving of a diver in a bathysphere helmet. Prior to today’s lightweight fibreglass helmets, divers wore these large and heavy bronze helmets fashioned after the bathysphere submersible. As a material, bronze is incredibly tough and is unaffected by salt water corrosion. The alloy’s historical usage and properties inspired Bell & Ross to use it in the limited edition watch. And while stainless steel has become the material of choice for diving watches, the appeal of bronze has seen a return because of the beautiful patina it tends to develop over the years. Instead of a rubber strap, the BR03-92 Diver Bronze comes with an aged leather strap, paying homage to the collection’s vintage spirit. Only 999 pieces are available.
The Most Important Endorsements
For us desk divers, the obligatory technical parameters on these Bell & Ross watches will remain as just that – notes on a piece of paper. But perhaps the most telling example of their usefulness in their respective domains is the fact that units such as the French National Gendarmerie and bomb disposal experts wear Bell & Ross watches. For them, time is a matter of life and death, and they trust Bell & Ross watches to take them through every perilous situation – a very ringing endorsement indeed.