Friday, July 17, 2015

Seven Days with the Bell & Ross BR 123 GMT

I would love to tell you that this review will be fair, balanced and objective. That would be a lie. This will not be fair, it will not be balanced, and it will by no means be objective.

For you see, gentle reader, I have fallen in love. And love is seldom fair, balanced or objective. It is compulsive, often frantic and by no means relaxed in its most passionate moments. And my week with the Bell & Ross BR 123 GMT 24H has been like that first passionate relationship where your stomach dropped when the phone rang, the sound of the voice on the other end the only salve to your naked, raw emotions.  I think you're getting the picture - I LOVE THIS WATCH.

Okay, but like that torrid affair, so too my time with this timekeeper must come to an end.  But I would like to try my best to share (as best I can) some level-headed feedback about this beauty.

I am going to borrow the words (or at least the idea) of Adam Craniotes of Red Bar Group fame. Adam was trying to put into words his feelings of a specific watch made by IWC. And as we were imbibing in Union Square at the time, my memory can be forgiven for being less than 100% - he said it was as if IWC had cracked open his skull, rooted around in his brain, and created his dream watch. That is how I feel about the BR 123 GMT 24HR.  Very legible, not too busy, 12, 3, 6 and 9.  A date between 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock and a GMT function.  If I could have only one watch, this might well be it.

So let's start with the dial - pretty straight forward.  Black, silver applied numerals with applied indices in between.  Lume has been applied to the inner hands of the hours and minutes, and the tip of the GMT.  The numbers are big but not too big.  The indices are a nice balance.  The bezel is fixed and engraved with a 24 hour scale which pairs with the GMT hand to provide a second timezone.

The BR 123 GMT 24HR comes in at a respectable 42 mm.  More and more, I am coming to feel that this is the ideal diameter (at least for me).  It is substantial without being overwhelming.  The case is of stainless steel with a satin polish finish.

The curved lugs taper nicely and do not "over-shoot" the mark, but blend nicely into the shape of the wrist.  Unlike a lot of "military inspired" watches, this watch actually has some ergonomic consideration in the design.

The self-winding movement provides hours, minutes, seconds, the date and a GMT (second time zone) function.  All set smoothly and easily, and hand-winding the movement from a dead stop was like butter.  The time keeping was very, Very, VERY good.  The maximum deviation I experienced was +8 seconds over the seven day period.

The watch features a sapphire crystal and display back which shows a nicely engraved rotor bearing the Bell & Ross logo.  And the display back is perhaps the only thing that I would change.  I appreciate that people like to see the movement, and for some less expensive brands the reasoning is that it is cheaper to buy a display back case from the case manufacturer.  This is actually looking for something to critique, because the truth be known, the display back is something that most people now expect with the exception of a dive watch.

The strap is described as "weave rubber".  This is (along with the straps from ISOfrane) one of the most comfortable straps I have worn and is the perfect pairing for this watch.  All too often brands thing that a rubber strap has to be big, thick and heavy.  But again, it seems that the design team at Bell & Ross designed this watch with the idea that someone might actually WEAR it.

Very comfortable all day long.  And unlike many solid rubber straps, I did not get the icky, slimy feeling of "wrist sweat".

The watch strap is secured with a stainless steel buckle.  Slightly "angular" and with the flat prong the perfect pairing for the strap.  It is substantial and tactile - BUT - sensibly proportioned and well matched for the strap and the watch.

The watch is rated to a water resistance of 100 meters.  Needless to say I did not put that to the advertised limit, but feel confident of it's water resistance given the proximity to water the watch experienced with me.  On that note, the crown is NOT a screw down.  And this is something that I am seeing more and more as case design and gasket technology are getting better.  Again, many watch companies feel compelled to put a screw down crown on any watch that you might even wash your hands with, and frankly that is just silly.  This, like JEANRICHARD's Terrascope show that intelligent design goes a lot farther than simply blindly following the leader.

And now, sadly, the BR 123 GMT 24HR has departed and is on it's way back to Bell & Ross HQ.  I will put it as succinctly as I can - if you have the means - buy this watch!  You will not regret it!

No comments:

Post a Comment