Double Timing With Bvlgari And Bell & Ross
Featuring two shaped watches that offer the GMT indication, the Bell & Ross BR 03-93 and Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph.
I am no stranger to gifting myself with watches although the practice is not as feasible as when watches were more accessible, both in terms of price and availability. Still, when Ashok asked me to contribute to this article, I was excited to participate. I proposed two personal choices and hoped they were not already picked by Kelvin or Asaph, and that they would serve to broaden the stylistic or functionality range of the overall selection. Both are shaped watches, and both offer the GMT indication.
- READ MORE: Panerai Luminor Meets Chrono
My first watch nomination to celebrate the successful conclusion of 2021 is the new BR 03-93 GMT from Bell & Ross. This is the newly updated version, unveiled to the public in April last year. Maintaining the same 42mm size and equipped with the same BR-CAL.303 self-winding movement, it replaces the previous version with a fixed, satin-polished stainless steel bezel and an orange GMT hand. The new bezel turns bidirectionally in 24 increments, and is inlaid with a bicolour anodised aluminium insert showing the night section in black and the day section in red. The GMT hand now sports a red tip to match.
I did not see this watch coming at all. In fact, I wrote an article for the March 2021 issue of WOW Thailand, detailing how I lost my appetite for GMT watches because of the travel restrictions. Two weeks after the copies came out, the model was previewed to the press and I was floored. I thought first of all about said article, how I could be mocked by my collector friends and readers for saying one thing then doing the other. Then I decided that I was human after all and made the important call to my local Bell & Ross retailer right after that fateful online presentation.
My primary penchant is for moon phase watches, and my secondary is for those with a GMT indication. I find the notion of being able to simultaneously read time here and there quite romantic. I think this equally has to do with my previous personal life as a freelancer, and my pre-COVID work life here at WOW where I got to make several trips each year. The ability to tell time at home with one glance at my wrist was not only convenient but also reassuring. Checking the same on a phone or doing the math in my head just did not cut it for me.
Having said that, there is a catch with this watch: the GMT hand is quick set, and the local time hour hand is not. This was almost a dealbreaker for me. My two other GMT purchases in the past were configured the other way round and they felt more practical because I always set the GMT hand to home time. I do not need to manipulate it during the trip like the local time hour hand. But since I am still in the square watch phase of my collecting journey, I decided to overlook this small inconvenience in favour of case shape and overall aesthetics.
I have been wearing this BR 03-93 GMT quite often (domestically, of course) during the past seven months. The legibility is, without a doubt, superb for these aging eyes. I like the look of the watch on my wrist. The wrist presence is there and the feeling can be compared to when I wore a Luminor or Ploprof for the first time, but without that kind of heft. I cannot wait to take a wristshot with this baby on my next visit to another continent, wherever that may be.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT
While my first nomination falls into the weekend or fun category, the second one is sleeker and edgier in a way. The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT (Ref. 103467) was introduced during the LVMH Watch Week 2021 in Dubai back in January. Compared with the regular Finissimo, the Octo Finissimo S subrange of watches is designed to offer enhanced robustness and water-resistance through the use of a screw-down crown on the slightly larger, thicker and sportier case. This evolution was seen in the time-only line, and now in the chronograph line.
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT is built on the template of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, which won the Chronograph Watch Prize of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève programme in 2019.
Compared with the 2019 titanium version, this 2021 stainless steel piece is marginally larger at 43mm (as opposed to 42mm) and thicker at 8.75mm (as opposed to 6.90mm), but it offers significantly more water-resistance at 100 metres (as opposed to 30 metres). The boldness is further projected by the applied markers and contrasting silver counters on the blue sunray dial. The time display is also luminous on this particular version of the chronograph watch.
Powering the action here is the column wheel-controlled chronograph Calibre BVL 318, which boasts an interesting self-winding design. With clever engineering and that peripheral rotor design, the movement comes in at only 3.30mm thin while delivering a power reserve of 55 hours.
The two chronograph buttons above and below the crown are designed in such a way that they become a natural continuation of the case’s angularity. On top of that, Bvlgari managed to include, in a most subtle way, a second time zone indication by way of the 24-hour counter at the 3 o’clock position. When travelling, the local time can be adjusted in one-hour increments by pushing the button on the 9 o’clock side of the case, which also echoes the overall case architecture.
I did try to buy this watch after having seen all the mid-year releases. Unfortunately, the watch proved to be less compatible with my wrist size than its titanium sibling. I totally did not expect the 1mm extra diameter to matter at all, but then it did. I could wear it all right with a long-sleeved shirt but the watch is a tad bit large for me otherwise. I may have to go back to the titanium model unless they bring out another Octo that I like better next year. Speaking of which, can I hope for one with a jumping hour and a retrograde minute? Maybe I can write about it for the next celebration watch article 12 months from now if Ashok decides to turn it into an annual series.
Did you like my choices? Did you like those of Kelvin and Asaph or Ashok? I hope that, collectively, we have brought to your attention a decent variety of ideas for you to celebrate the close of the current year or the beginning of the new one. Happy hunting!
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