One of my all time favorite watch genres is that of the super-professional dive watch. While I don’t dive even recreationally, there is something inherently fascinating to me about these superbly engineered timekeeping instruments, which can descend to staggering depths, enduring with nonchalance the crushing water pressure which no human could survive. From famous classic divers like the Omega Ploprof and the Rolex Sea-Dweller to modern entries like the Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk II watch, uncompromising dive watches always get my attention.
With that preamble out of the way, I was pleased to see the addition of a new Bell & Ross dive timepiece collection at this year’s Basel Fair. The Bell & Ross BR 02 Instrument collection provides a worthy supplement to the enormously popular square BR 01 watches which have made Bell & Ross a household name with watch collectors. It’s got a very cool curved case shape that will offer something different for those who don’t necessarily want a square watch. And the deep sea emphasis is a nice contrast to the chronograph/aviation themes that dominate the BR 01 watch line.
Most importantly, these are SERIOUS dive timepieces. The flagship model, the BR 02 1000m watch, like its name suggests, is pressure tested for water resistant performance all the way to 1000 meters (3,300 feet). The dials have been designed to reflect pure tool watch sensibility, and have bold indications with generous amounts of superluminova; I fully expect this dial to be a virtual makeshift “flashlight” when things go dark. Naturally, divers will also appreciate the visibility. As is the case with many professional-grade dive watches, a helium release valve is present. The fact that this valve is static, and not dependent upon a crown, is a definite plus in my book, as it’s one less thing to fiddle with under stress. Perhaps inspired by IWC’s Aquatimer watch, Bell & Ross has used an internal rotating bezel, that is controlled by a dedicated crown. This is a nice touch, although some purist divers will always prefer an external bezel. I doubt most users will be deterred by this however, and will enjoy the engineering sophistication of this detail.
Bell & Ross also has the luxury dive watch angle has been well represented here, too. The BR 02 1000M watch is available in carbon-blackened steel with a pink gold bezel and crown guards, and then there is also the entirely golden BR 02 Pink Gold watch, with its case crafted from 18K pink gold, and a gorgeous dial in scintillating carbon fiber. Due to the 18K gold case, this latter model is “only” water resistant to 300 meters, but that seems like a reasonable technical concession to be able to wear such a beautiful and distinctive sports watch.