Spoiler alert - I love this watch!
All too often, when I first see a watch at BaselWorld it never lives up to the expectations in real life. A large part of this is due to the pace of a big fair. You're over-tired, you're in a hurry and you've got just a few minutes (if you're lucky) to hold, examine and make the mental (and pen and ink) notes about any given watch. Memory (even when documented) can be fickle.
This one proved to be a bit different. Bell & Ross had been in a bit of a slump. But 2017 seemed to be a breakout year for the French brand, and the hits seem to keep on coming.
Now while the BELLYTANKER and the GARDE-CÔTES certainly embody some different color codes, but the BR V1-92 Military is something different again. It comes down to size and proportion.
The watch case is stainless steel and measures 38.5 in diameter, with a lug width of 20 mm. This is a pretty big departure from previous pieces in the Vintage collection. Okay, I understand that 2.5 mm doesn't seem like such a radical shift, but considering that the previous size was 41, it was a bold move to go smaller. But as the above image bears out, 38.5 is plenty big enough.
The crown was another interesting, and welcome choice. The knee-jerk response to a vaguely pilot style watch is to slap an oversized crown on it. Not so with the V1-92 Military. The crown is tactile and functional, and not a hindrance.
The dial and hands are a wonderful pairing. The dial is black, the large indices are a khaki lume, the smaller indices and interior numbers are white. The hands share the same khaki lume.
My only issue is the date window which ends up cutting a small portion of the number 20 at 4 o'clock.
The timekeeping was solid, no major deviations on either side of the scale.
But again, the most beguiling aspect of this watch is the size. And that size is balanced with restraint. The strap is not exotic. It is basic brown calfskin, and it is perfect.
It is balanced out with the subtle buckle that secures it to the wrist.
No deployant, no frills or extras. Just a simple, elegant logo on a solid, but elegant buckle.
The case back has no display window, no artifice. Rather it is solid, bearing the Bell & Ross logo prominently.
All too often we try to rationalize our favorite watches, but for me it often comes back to a visceral reaction. Something you feel good about deep down. And shouldn't a watch do more than simply tell time? It should stir something within you. And the BR V1-92 does just that.
Here are the pertinents, straight from the source:
Movement: calibre BR-CAL.302. Automatic mechanical.
Functions: hours, minutes, central seconds and date.
Case: 38.5 mm in diameter. Satin-polished steel.
Dial: black. Indices coated in beige Superluminova®. Metal skeletonised Superluminova®-filled hour and minute hands.
Crystal: ultra-curved sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Water-resistance: 100 metres.
Strap: brown calfskin.
Buckle: pin. Steel.
And the suggested retail price reveals another departure for Bell & Ross, the price is a very reasonable $1,990 US.