Military look watches (or “time instruments”, as they like to call them) are the bread and butter of Bell & Ross, and the recent announcement of two new models, the WW1 (Wrist Watch 1) Watch and the PW1 Pocket Watch, continues this focus, paying a nostalgic homage to military timepieces.
In Bell & Ross designer Bruno Belamich’s words :“We are delving into the past even more in order to round out our collection. The military watch has been our passion since our early days and we are looking to reinvent the first models of these wristwatches which appeared on pilots’ wrists in the 1920s.”
The larger PW1 references WW1 cockpit instruments. With a case diameter measurement of 49mm, it is finished in a coating of polished steel with a domed sapphire crystal, guilloché caseback and luminescent hands. Inside is a manual winding ETA 6497 movement. The expected price of somewhere around USD4,500/ €3,000.
At 45mm, the WW1 is slightly smaller but still fairly decently sized. It similarly has a polished steel case, galvanic-black dial and luminescent hands, but with the wristwatch addition of a black alligator strap that is attached via a spring bar.
The WW1 was designed by Bell & Ross as the transformation of a pocket watch into a wristwatch, the use of fixed lugs is inspired by vintage military watches with their fixed wire lugs. The movement is an ETA 2897 with power reserve display and interestingly, it has the same price as the PW1.
The WW1 is pretty similar in look and ‘feel’ to the brand’s Vintage BR series (some may argue too similar), though a bit more sleek (the hands, the case) and of course, 4mm larger. The WWI is a clean looking watch whose distinctiveness really comes down to the lugs.
Both of these new releases will be available from September 2011 as regular production models. Although of a sufficiently large size that it will not be able to worn by many, my guess is that the watch will probably have broader appeal than the pocket watch, as I don’t know whether the watch world is yet ripe for a pocket watch revival, and an ETA based pocket watch for USD4,500 may be more than most are prepared to pay.