Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be shining a spotlight on my recent watch acquisition, the Bell & Ross BR 05.
This is essentially a series where I shine a spotlight on my personal purchases. I’ve previously done similar articles, such as on my Kurono Tokyo Toki, IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince, TAG Heuer Monaco CAW211B, and most recently the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80. Today, I’ll be showcasing my first purchase for the new year – the Bell & Ross BR 05.
I had the chance to review the new BR 05 GMT a while back and liked it much more than I expected. In particular, I really liked the integrated sports watch feel, as well as the superbly finished bracelet. I wrote that “the BR 05 GMT has the best case and bracelet finishing in its price point”, and grew to appreciate its comfort during extended wear. However, I found the matte black dial a tad too conservative for my taste, and also had no need for a GMT function – given the current Omnicron strain, I doubt I’ll be travelling anytime soon.
I thus began exploring the rest of the BR 05 lineup and found myself gravitating towards the time-only variants. Given Bell & Ross’ heritage as a maker of aviation-instrument watches, the instant legibility of the standard BR 05 models appealed the most to me. And out of the multiple colourways available, I was most drawn towards the sunburst blue dial.
In the metal, the blue BR 05 looks even better than it does in press photos. Blue watches are a dime a dozen nowadays – I own multiple, including the aforementioned IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince and the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80. However, there’s a royal stature, a je ne sais quoi to the shade of blue of the BR 05 that separates it from the competition. It just looks richer and warmer, possessing a lovely elegance that acts as an intriguing juxtaposition to its robust sports watch nature. I also love the clean, sleek aesthetic of the dial, with its simplicity providing the perfect canvas for the striking blue dial to shine. The date wheel is rendered in blue as well so as to blend into the dial – a small detail that goes a long way.
The time-only BR 05 shares the same bracelet as its GMT counterpart. In other words, it has a banger of a bracelet – just look at the finishing in the video above! The polished centre links contrast nicely against the satin-brushed bracelet, resulting in a watch that gleams on the wrist. It catches the light beautifully and even has a slight taper for a more streamlined look. Admittedly, it is a tad Nautilus inspired, but it’s executed to such a high degree that it does justice to its Haute Horlogerie inspiration.
The time-only BR 05 has a case diameter of just 40mm, making it substantially smaller than the brand’s BR01/03 icons. In fact, it’s the smallest men square watch in Bell & Ross’ current catalogue. On my 7-inch wrist, the 40mm case wears incredibly well. Due to its square nature, it possesses quite a lot of wrist presence – it’s still quintessentially Bell & Ross. However, its integrated nature and the lack of lugs means that it actually wears smaller than my TAG Heuer Monaco despite being 1mm larger on paper. With a thickness of just 10.4mm, it’s also pretty slim for a square watch. I found that it had no issues fitting under a shirt cuff, and it actually pairs rather well with formalwear. I recall wearing the BR 05 with a navy suit and getting many compliments on it – it’s a watch that straddles dress and sports eminently well.
Unfortunately, the movement is a prosaic Sellita SW-300. It’s clear that Bell & Ross has done some aesthetic modifications to what it calls the BR-CAL.321 – it’s now equipped with a skeletonised “wheel” rotor – but in terms of specifications, it’s pretty much the same as the standard calibre. That means a shortish power reserve of just 40 hours. It’s definitely an area that makes the BR 05 less competitive and is perhaps why some watch enthusiasts turn their noses up at the brand. For context, Tudor is offering an in-house, chronometer-certified movement with 70 hours of power reserve in its Black Bay watches, which can be found for substantially less than the BR 05 both at retail and on the resale market. At the very least, I would have liked the movement to be chronometer-certified – something that even entry-level models from competing brands such as Breitling possess. That being said, the off-the-shelf movement inside also means that servicing costs of the BR 05 will be much more affordable than its proprietary counterparts.
When the BR 05 was first released in 2019, it garnered much controversy – many slammed it as being a mere homage to the Nautilus and Royal Oak. A few years on, it seems like the tide has turned, with enthusiasts now appreciating the BR 05 for its own merits. And although the watch has now turned into a full line-up (with 29 models), the time-only BR 05 with its striking blue dial still shines the brightest, at least for me. For a fairly affordable sports watch, the BR 05 provides everything that you need, and nothing that you don’t. I really like how Bell & Ross was able to retain some of the brand’s trademark elements on the BR 05 (screws on bezel, legible dial, etc), yet update it in a contemporary package that’s perfect for the urban lifestyle. In terms of fit and finish, it’s a watch that punches well above its price point. It’s currently the watch that I wear most often, simply because it’s a terrific grab-and-go watch. However, if I’m being honest, I’m still deciding whether to keep the watch as it technically occupies the same role (blue dial integrated sports watch) as my Tissot PRX Powermatic 80. But if you don’t already have a blue integrated sports watch, then I really recommend visiting your AD/boutique to try the BR 05 on – it really dazzles in the metal.
View the BR 05 here.
Bell & Ross BR 05 – Video Review:
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the watch, do watch my Youtube review of the Bell & Ross BR 05 below:
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
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.