Bell & Ross has recently released a new addition to their Instrument family of “aviators”: the laconic three-hander Instrument BR 01-92 Carbon Fiber and a bit more complicated Instrument BR 01-94 Carbon Fiber that features chronograph functionality. As you probably have already gathered from the names, both watches have their massive square-shaped bodies crafted not from some vulgar steel or titanium, but ultra-lightweight and corrosion-resistant carbon fiber material.
In times when even passenger aircraft are made almost entirely of carbon fiber (well, the fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner has only performed its first flight less than a week ago and will possibly take a couple of more years before interested airlines around the globe will receive the first bunch of airliners, but the trend has been set) it is no wonder that various brands start to offer more or less affordable time-measuring devices made of this lightweight and extremely durable material.
The Instrument BR01-92 & 94 Carbon Fiber collection features cases, dials, and even straps made of carbon fiber.
While Audemars Piguet last year presented the brilliant Royal Oak Carbon Concept Tourbillon and Chronograph that was almost entirely crafted from this material (even some parts of the AP Calibre 2895 that powered the concept were made from carbon fiber,) Bell & Ross decided to limit the use of the material to their cases, dials and straps.
Also, while Audemars Piguet featured parts machined from a single block of forged carbon fiber (a technological marvel that requires expensive and complicated machinery,) the new piece from Bell & Ross showcases a different -less advanced, but also less expensive- approach.
First, the BR01-92 & BR01-94 cases are several sheets of carbon fiber glued to each other in the same fashion as car tuners make their aftermarket bumpers, air diffusers, hoods… you name it. As a result, the case is less dense and less impressive in appearance, but at the same time is also not as prohibitively priced as many other “carbon” watches.
The second thing is that trying to make the new watches more affordable to the general public, Bell & Ross decided to put inside the hi-tech cases rather average ETA 2892 and ETA 2894 automatic movements with the second one being the very same ETA 2892 that has a chronograph add-on module sitting atop of it. Frankly, for such an expensive product, I would prefer a good old ETA Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement that (1) offers better reliability and (2) simply offers more value. Yet, the timekeeper’s main selling point is the material its case (and strap, and even the non-transparent screw-in case back cover) is made from and there is a good chance that the majority of potential buyers will simply ignore the choice of the mechanism. After all, the movements are still quite good.
Anyway, it looks good, reads easily, will certainly be reliable and, at a limited production run of only 500 pieces, may well become a collector’s item.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Photos: Bell & Ross / Pinterest
Bell & Ross Instrument BR01-92 & 94 Carbon Fiber specification
Price range: $7900 (ref. BR 01-92) / $9900 (ref. BR 01-94)
Movement: Caliber ETA 2892 (ref. BR 01-92) and ETA 2894 (ref. BR 01-94), Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 28,800 vph
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, seconds, date (BR 01-92); same plus chronograph (BR 01-94)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Size: 46.00 mm x 46.00 mm
Case height: 11.00 mm
Dial: Black, carbon-fiber
Hands: Black and grey, white Superluminova
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Carbon-fiber with black stitching and black PVD steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, AR-coated (antireflective)
Back: Solid carbon fiber