Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Review: Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Watch

Bell & Ross’s khaki-clad BR 03-94 bears testament to the BR family’s design longevity and versatility

Aug 13, 2016 | By Jamie Tan

Back in 2005, who would’ve imagined that a square watch could singlehandedly set Bell & Ross on the trajectory that’s brought the brand to where it is today? The BR 01 did just that, and went on to spawn two smaller iterations, the BR 03 and BR S, which were also extremely successful. The latest addition to the family, the BR-X1, was conceived as a platform for Bell & Ross to express its technical savoir-faire, but the brand hasn’t neglected its core collections despite this shift in direction. The proof? The BR 03-94 Desert Type.

The BR 03-94 Desert Type is the latest variation on the theme of the square aviation watch, which is one of Bell & Ross’s calling cards. Like the collection’s other models, it contains several recognisable design cues. For one, there’s the square case with a raised round bezel framing the circular dial. The dial itself is highly legible, thanks to a combination of sword-shaped hands and a mix of baton and Arabic numeral indexes. Finally, there are the four screws on the upper surface of the case – a nod to the screws used to mount aviation instruments (the collection’s inspiration) onto a cockpit’s panel.

The strength of the BR 01/03/S families’ design lies in its versatility, as the BR 03-94 Desert Type shows. Despite being dressed in matte black and khaki – the two primary hues used in desert camouflage – the watch maintains a striking visage. Part of this is due to the brand’s subtle play with textures. Note how the black portions of the hands have a grainier texture compared to the black ceramic case, for instance, or how the sub-dials have a circular grained pattern. Bell & Ross has also manipulated the sense of depth of this watch by going beyond the usual traits of a layered case/bezel construction and sloping inner flange. The sub-dials have been countersunk here, while the dial itself has a sandwich construction consisting of an upper dial with cutouts set over a lower dial of a contrasting colour.

Functionally, the BR 03-94 is powered by an ETA-based BR-CAL.301 chronograph movement. The watch is capable of measuring elapsed times of up to 30 minutes, and sports a clean bi-compax layout to facilitate this, with a date window at 4:30 rounding up its functions. Its wearer can opt for either a matching beige calfskin strap or a black synthetic fabric strap to complete the package.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes. chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding BR-CAL.301
  • Material: Black ceramic
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Beige calfskin or black fabric, both with black PVD-coated steel ardillon buckle

This article was first published in WOW.