Bell & Ross Cockpit Classics

Bell & Ross cockpit classic - BR 01-97 CLIMB

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 cockpit classic Limited Horizon

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.

Caseback of Bell & Ross cockpit classic LEH

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.

Bell & Ross cockpit classic: BR01-92 Turn Coordinator

Bell & Ross Aviation Flight Instruments BR01-92 TURN COORDINATOR – $6k Retail, $5400 New Old Stock

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.

Bell & Ross Turn Coordinator

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?

B&R heading indicator

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.

B&R Heading Indicator watch

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 red radar

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.

Bell & Ross radar love

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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  1. Okay, I like planes. Not as much as some, certainly not as much as some contributing authors on this site…

    My but these are staggering both in their defiance to boredom and their…reason for existence? The middle couple were ~not~ thoroughly thought-out. Would I still – finances aside – still want to own one? …maaaaaybe?

    1. Probably not. They’re just plane silly. Except for the Red Radar which is so stupid it’s wonderful.

      1. They’re ~all~ stupid and the watch version of that little dog that thinks it’s tough (but it’s not) and adorable (but it’s brick-ugly) and they’re awful pets to own because they’re pointless but you still love them for what they are?

        …where was I? Right, plines. They’re awful as watches but there’s still something to them. It’s a stupid that could definitely get under my skin.

  2. That screw head situation is bizarre. Was it meant to be quirky or was it just design engineering laziness? It would drive me insane, but I align my screw heads on door jams, so maybe the I’m the wrong guy to ask.

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