Bell & Ross Updates The Emblematic BR03 Watch

Managing director Fabien de Nonancourt tells us about the reworked eight new variations.

It’s hard not to notice the iconic Bell & Ross watch design: the “circle within a square, held by four screws”. This innovative design came from the brand’s co-founder Bruno Belamich, who had the idea to put a piece of the plane cockpit on the wrist. Since its debut in 2005, the timepiece has had several iterations, starting with a hefty 46mm on the BR01—a trendy size at the time—and then the 42mm for the BR03.

This year, the latter model is reduced by another one millimetre—to 41mm: “We have adjusted minor details, not unlike the Porsche 911. You have to make little evolutions to your iconic product—you cannot keep it the same forever,” Bell & Ross managing director Fabien de Nonancourt told us. “One millimetre makes a big difference on the wrist, and I think it’s also good to compromise sometimes. Of course, the BR03 has to be big on the wrists; it cannot be small. We will never go 36 or 37mm.” The corners of the square have also become slightly rounded, with a new strap and a narrower buckle. It’s now powered by the upgraded calibre 302—the latest innovations of a Sellita movement with an extended power reserve of 54 hours versus 38 hours in the past.

Fabien de Nonancourt, Bell & Ross Managing Director

The new BR03 comes in eight new variations: four ceramic and four stainless steel. Six of these are evolutions of the previous models and two brand new ones—the Military in ceramic and the Copper in steel. “Cockpit on the wrist” is inherently a Bell & Ross DNA, but do they fear being constrained by this constant theme? De Nonancourt says no. “It’s a constraint but it’s also an opportunity because, for example, out of this instrument designed from the cockpit, we have also created the BR05 collection. We also went more high-end, more watchmaking, so we created the BRX5. There are a lot of opportunities and just by focusing on this ‘round in a square design’, we can bring more materials and more movement. That’s the advantage of Bell & Ross.”

However, there also comes a risk when redesigning a best- selling watch. “That’s why it’s not a revolution—it’s just an evolution. We have to be careful. Of course, there are new techniques and you can improve the quality. However, you cannot make a big jump or change.” With the BR03 as the core collection of Bell & Ross, de Nonancourt says having new materials for the collection is entirely possible. “We can go for gold and titanium, and try exploring other options. It can be a combination of materials as well. Of course, we want to explore different movements as well—so it’s a nice platform to play with.”

This article was first published in GRAZIA Malaysia‘s October 2023 issue.