Talk to me about Bell & Ross watches…

The upcoming Luxury Watch Sale taking place on Thursday 18th May has, as always, an eclectic mix of watches available. From an automaton musical alarm pocket watch by Reuge to an outrageous orange De Grisogogo Tondo. As the old TV advert said, “You know when you’ve been tango’d”. With over 200 lots going under the hammer, there is something for everyone but for the traditionalists amongst you who normally like their brands to have a century or more of horological history behind them, Bell & Ross might be a watch house not yet on your radar.

Bell & Ross: The Beginnings

Whilst 1992 isn’t exactly “new new”, it is in the world of watches, and that is the year Bell & Ross were born. Producing something which stands the test of time is no mean feat and countless brands have attempted to do so in recent years. In many ways, it has never been easier. CAD programmes, CNC machines, social media, and platforms such as Kickstarter can see a product taken from conception to customer faster than ever before. Yet, how many of the current upstarts will be around in 50 years time? Sticking some Rolex-style hands in an AP look-a-like case does not a watch brand make. You need to do something different if you want to carve yourself a piece of the watch market pie and like them or loathe them, Bell & Ross have certainly done that.

Founded by university friends Bruno Belamich (the Bell) and Carlos A. Rosillo (the Ross), the company set out to make some of the most durable and functional timepieces available. Drawing inspiration from both the Military and aviation, their watches are instantly recognisable with arguably the best legibility in the business. Oversized hour markers, high-contrast dials and copious amounts of luminous paint the key ingredients to the recipe. The square case seen in some current models has also become a trademark feature.

Bell & Ross x Sinn

One of the more obvious issues facing new brands is the cost associated in setting up production facilities and for this reason, much work is often outsourced. In the case of Bell & Ross, manufacturing during the early years was handled by German company Sinn who are well respected for their own tool watches. It was during this period that the brand saw the introduction of one of the most interesting references; Type Demineur, a watch used by the French Security Services, and more specifically their bomb disposal unit. Another notable reference was the Hydro Challenger, a world record-holding watch that managed a trip of 11,000m deep into the ocean.

The relationship with Sinn continued for around ten years until 2002 when Bell & Ross were able to take control of their own manufacturing process following investment from Chanel which included access to its facilities in Switzerland.

Bell & Ross: BR 01

It is since then that the distinctive Bell & Ross aesthetic has really taken shape with the BR 01 being the foundation of this. Clearly inspired by the cockpit instruments used in military aircraft it featured a square case with round dial, and one of the most easily read displays you are likely to see.

Normally seen with a stainless steel or PVD-treated black case these watches are instantly recognisable and like a lot of bold design, divides opinion. One thing that can’t be argued is that they are well made watches using quality materials. However, a good product doesn’t always guarantee success, and marketing can play a pivotal role in the success or failure of business. Recognising this fact, Bell & Ross have linked themselves with F1, diving and even custom motorcycles, which has ensured the growth required to survive.

Bell & Ross Watches at Auction

Bell & Ross BR01-96

Lot 14 – 18/5/23

BELL & ROSS – a stainless steel BR01-96 wrist watch, 46mm.

Estimate £800 – £1,200

Bell & Ross BR 03-92

Lot 15 – 18/5/23

BELL & ROSS – a ceramic BR 03-92 wrist watch, 42mm.

Estimate £1,400 – £2,000

Bell & Ross Horizon Aviation

Lot 18 – 18/5/23

BELL & ROSS – a limited edition PVD-treated Horizon aviation wrist watch, 46mm.

Estimate £750 – £1,000

Bell & Ross BR01-92-S

Lot 21 – 18/5/23

BELL & ROSS – a PVD-treated stainless steel BR01-92-S wrist watch, 46mm..

Estimate £750 – £1,000

Auction Details

The Luxury Watch Sale | Thursday 18th May 2023

Viewings

London

Tuesday 9th May 12pm – 7pm

Wednesday 10th May 10am – 5pm

Birmingham

Wednesday 17th May 10am – 4pm

Thursday 18th May 8:30am – 10am

Virtual viewings are available by request. Virtual viewings are the ultimate personal shopping experience. Using Zoom, you can ask us whatever you need to know in order to buy with confidence. Find out more here. Please contact info@fellows.co.uk to book a virtual viewing.

Make sure you don’t miss finding that special something by signing up for our emails. You’ll be the first to know when catalogues become available, receive invitations to special events, and preview the hottest lots from our auctions, plus much more. You can also set up lot alerts, to tell us exactly what you are looking for. Our personal shopping service will make sure that you are the first to hear about it.

Valuations

Our valuations are free, with no obligation to sell with us. Our experts will value your item with an estimate, so you can find out what it could achieve at auction.

The process is simple. You can fill in a form online or book an appointment to visit either of our offices in Birmingham or London. Virtual valuation appointments are also available.

Kes Crockett BA (Hons) | Watch Department

Kes Crockett

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