Hello everyone – welcome to another of my reviews. In today’s article, I’ll be doing a hands-on review of the new BR 05 GMT from the French luxury watch label Bell & Ross. They lent me the watch to test drive for a week – here are my initial thoughts.
First introduced two years ago, the BR 05 was a polarising release, though I’ve always been a fan. Yes, it borrows heavily from the iconic integrated sports watches that came before it, but it retains enough of the brand’s striking “circle in a square” design for it to feel fresh and not derivative.
Having risen to fame making aviation-instrument watches, the inclusion of a GMT model in the BR 05 lineup makes perfect sense, especially since Bell & Ross describes the line as being made for “urban explorers”. With global travel routes reopening (Korea VTL and Dalgona candy, anyone?), it’s a timely introduction as well.
The dial, with its clean and utilitarian design, is well-executed. The red-tipped GMT hand contrasts sharply against the matte black dial, resulting in an eminently legible watch. Applied indices, as well as a 24-hour ring set on the flange, add a sense of depth to the dial as well.
However, the best aspect of the watch – and the rest of the BR 05 series in general – has always been the superb finishing of the case and bracelet. Polished bevels on the case juxtapose nicely against a satin-brushed front, while the integrated steel bracelet is comfortable and well-milled. I genuinely believe that the BR 05 GMT has the best case and bracelet finishing in its price point.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed was its dimensions. At 41 mm wide, the BR 05 GMT is slightly larger than its time-only predecessor, but also slightly smaller than its chronograph sibling. In other words, it’s the Goldilocks of the bunch and hit the sweet spot on my 7-inch wrist. Despite its modular GMT movement, the watch still manages to be relatively slim at just 11.5 mm thick – it had no issues sliding under a shirt cuff.
The obvious weakness of the watch is its movement, which is essentially a modified Sellita SW-300. As such, it’s not a “true” GMT, as the local hour hand cannot be adjusted independently of the GMT hand. This makes the BR 05 GMT better suited for those that simply want to keep track of a second-time zone, instead of constant travellers. It’s also not an in-house movement, but I think it’s wise to bear in mind that in-house movements may not necessarily be better – the Tudor Black Bay GMT with its infamous date issues is a prominent example.
It’s also a unique proposition, being the only watch that combines a GMT function with an integrated sports watch aesthetic at its price point. Yes, there are other integrated sports watches available at the sub-$10K price point, such as the latest generation Cartier Santos. Plenty of superb GMT alternatives can also be had for around the same price, like the recently introduced Grand Seiko GMT “Seasons” collection. But none blend the two elements together as the BR 05 GMT does.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the integrated sports watch design and appreciate the functionality of having a GMT complication, then the BR 05 GMT is a clear winner and represents a solid value proposition at S$7500. I wish it came in more colourways – a sunburst blue would look great – but those are surely in the pipeline.
Movement: calibre BR-CAL.325 Automatic mechanical.
Functions: hours, minutes, central seconds, second 24-hour time zone and date. Quick setting of the GMT hand, independently of the hour hand.
Case: 41 mm in width. Satin-finished and polished steel. White and black two-colour flange, with 24-hour scale. Screw-down crown. Crown guard. Sapphire case-back with 360° oscillating weight.
Dial: black sunray. Numerals and indices coated in white Super-LumiNova®. Metal skeletonised Super-LumiNova®-filled hour and minute hands.
Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating.
Water-resistance: 100 metres.
Strap: black rubber or satin-finished and polished steel.
Buckle: folding. Satin-finished and polished steel.
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.