The Seiko Silverwave Cockpit was the first cockpit-inspired wrist watch. And then French watchmaker Bell & Ross took le ball and ran with it, creating some decidedly Whiskey Tango Foxtrot timepieces. Believe it or not, the BR 01-97 CLIMB above is the least zany of the Bell & Ross cockpit classics (although it shares a careless disregard for screw head alignment). Here are four more compelling examples . . .
Bell & Ross 46mm Limited Edition Horizon – $5k Retail, $2178 Pre-owned
Bell & Ross could have charged a lot more money for their limited edition Horizon if they’d painted the central piece bright orange. Hook ’em horns! The white line running through the center – the horizon – makes time-telling at a glance as challenging as landing at Lukla Airport, Nepal. In the fog. At night. After a few drinks. And an Xan.
Props (or turbine blades) to Bell & Ross for making airplane-themed watches that are water resistant to 100m – in case their owner has to do a Chesley Sullenberger. The LEH is also kinda cool ’cause only pilots know you’re wearing a downsized cockpit instrument on your wrist, for some reason.
Again, actual time-telling doesn’t seem to be a high priority – which is ironic given the whole legibility = pilot safety thing. The BR-01-92 Turn Coordinator is certainly more obviously obvious in its thematic connection to the wild blue yonder, accounting for the higher initial retail price. Obviously.
This B&R cockpit classic features a center disc that “turns at the rhythm of the seconds.” (The French are so romantic!) I wish B&R had mounted the movement on a gyroscope to keep the dial dead level in all directions as the wearer moved their wrist. Then again, vertigo. Not good for a pilot’s watch, n’est-ce pas?
Bell & Ross BR 01-92 HEADING INDICATOR – $6k Retail, $3,863 Pre-Owned
“Three independent concentric discs, graduated for the hours and minutes. The seconds are marked out in the center on a disc, which is not graduated, featuring a yellow marker. The hour reading is indicated by the yellow triangle, which appears on the outer hours disc. Minutes are read from the middle disc. Markers: a plane and yellow index mark are engraved underneath the glass.” You are now free to taxi to runway Omega Mike Golf.
This Bell & Ross may be confusing AF, but c’mon man! It’s a Bell & Ross cockpit classic! Of the three so far, this watch leaves no doubt as to its owner’s enthusiasm for those magnificent men in their flying machines. And who knows? While the value of the BR 01-92 went down diddley-own-down, it may one day go back up-diddley-up-up.
Bell & Ross BR01-92 Red Radar Limited – $6k Retail, $8k Pre-owned
OK, here it is: the most dope Bell & Ross cockpit classic money can buy. A watch with three spinning indicators (a.k.a., hands) that tell the time and identify incoming enemy horophiles looking to Rolex flex. I have no idea if you can read this thing in bright light, but I suspect the Red Radar is the best low-light watch ever invented.
As with the other B&R’s above, the watchmaker limited production to 999 pieces – a problem for fundamentalist Christians who do certain yoga positions or find themselves upside down on their mortgage. Unlike the other Bell & Ross cockpit classics, the Red Radar’s price has risen since it took flight in the mid-2000’s. Radar love. Watch you gonna do?
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