“There is a lot of argument over whether or not the design connects strongly enough to earlier Bell & Ross designs,” Jack Forster writes at hodinkee.com, “to avoid appearing too similar to other, earlier, steel watch designs with integrated bracelets. This includes the Patek Philippe Nautilus and of course, the great-grandaddy of the genre, the Royal Oak.” Arguement my eye. The new Bell & Ross BR05 is a copy. Let’s go to the tape . . .
Bell & Ross BR05 Differences
The new Bell & Ross BR05 has three Arabic numerals on its dial, the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak use plain markers.
The Bell & Ross’ dial is a lighter shade of blue. The B&R’s date window is framed in white, the other watches’ date windows aren’t framed with contrasting color.
The Patek and the Audemars Piguet have “railroad track” indices around the dials’ outer edges, the B&R does not.
Bell & Ross BR05 Similarities
The B&R BR05’s dial is the same oval shape as the AP’s Royal Oak. The date window is the same size and place for all three watches; both the B&R and the AP use black numerals against a dial-colored background for the date.
The B&R dial face is adorned with screws, as is the AP. The B&R’s bracelet has roughly the same shape (different polish) and tapers the same way from the lugs as the Patek. The B&R and Nautilus have similar lug protectors.
The brand logos are in the same proportion and place for all three watches. The B&R and the AP have “railroad track” inidices around the dial. The B&R’s and the Nautilus’ second hands are the same size and shape (rounded at their ends).
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus were both designed by Gerald Genta. There is no question is my mind that all three watches share a nearasdammit identical gestalt. Clearly, the B&R BR05 was “inspired” by those watches. You might even say it’s a fusion of the two. Or, less diplomatically, a copy.
Hodinkee’s Jack Forster is nothing if not diplomatic about this blatant “homage” to two of the most iconic — and expensive — watches money can buy (when it can). You might even say he’s generous about the comparison. After much singing and dancing (in his endlessly eurdite way), Mr. Forster offers queasy potential customers this reassurance:
It is certainly true that there are influences of other watches which are present in the steel BR05 models.
At this point, however, my own feeling is that this is more the influence of a genre than of any one watch, and in any case, the link to previous BR05 watches seems visually clear enough to me that the question of outright copying simply doesn’t seem applicable.
Within Bell & Ross’s own collections, it offers something that none of the other watches offer – a signature design, in a versatile execution, which ought to open up the basic elements of the BR01/03 design to a wider audience.
Oh please. At best the new Bell & Ross BR05 is a riff on the Nautilus and Royal Oak, at worst a rip-off. You know where I come down. But more than that, the BR05 is a betrayal of Bell & Ross’ own “cocktpit to wrist” brand language. This is what they’re known for:
I rest my case.