Bell & Ross has issued another iteration of its cash-cow — the vintage-styled BR 123 Vintage Original Carbon (ref. BRV123-BL-CA/SRB) “aviator”. The model has undergone several face-lifts, and now the medium-size 41.00-mm round case arrives in black PVD-coated stainless steel.
Besides providing the military-style watch with an even more menacing appearance, the choice of coating also makes it more desirable, especially now, when so many people are so in love with ceramic timepieces featuring the same matte-black look at a much, much higher price.
I can’t decide whether it is a problem or not (as always, it depends on your perspective,) but the case is still equipped with relatively long lugs. I don’t know why somebody at Bell & Ross decide to opt for such a design, but it doesn’t look like it was done for the sake of your convenience since the horns leave a great deal of space between the strap and the outer rim of the body even if you prefer thicker aftermarket leather straps.
On the other hand, the long lugs make the compact case appear a lot larger and effectively increase its overall length to around fifty millimeters. If you happen to have more or less wide wrist, this may not be a problem for you (the device would probably even look better, and more prominent,) but if your wrist is on the narrower side, this new BR 123 Vintage Original Carbon still doesn’t look like the best choice. Any “pilot” with a similar finish and diameter but shorter lugs would probably beat it when it comes to fit and wearing comfort.
The Swiss brand doesn’t say a word about the movement that powers the Vintage Original Carbon, but, judging by the look of it, I may assume that it features a version of the good old ETA 2892 automatic caliber (UPDATE: The mechanism is based on ETA 2895-2, which is essentially the same ETA 2892-A2 equipped with a small seconds indicator, and re-branded for marketing purposes as Caliber BR-CAL.305.)
Well, I am almost positive that it is an ETA 2892 since that’s what powers other members of the BR 123 family. If my assumptions are correct, you are about to get yourself a timekeeper that is animated by one of the most robust and reliable mass-produced movements currently in production. It is also quite reliable for mechanical movement, although it won’t beat an average quartz caliber even if coming in a COSC-certified chronometer version.
This iteration of the BR 123 features a highly legible and elegant dial with the subsidiary seconds sub-dial located at 6 o’clock, right above the small round date window.
As usual for this kind, the timekeeper features a pair of generously sized hour and minute hands that are covered with loads of high-contrast white Superluminova, reminding us of analog instrument gauges from older planes.
According to the company, they plan to ship the refreshed on a brown calfskin strap with a tongue buckle in black PVD-treated steel.
So far, Bell & Ross plans to sell the BR 123 Vintage Original Carbon at a recommended maximum street price of $3200.
This makes it twice as cheap as the IWC Pilots Mark XVII (with the latter coming only in polished stainless steel body) but, at the same time, more than twice as expensive than Oris Big Crown ProPilot Day Date that earned a good score in our another review, but, too, comes only in plain stainless steel.
Photos: Bell & Ross
Bell & Ross BR 123 Vintage Original Carbon (BRV123-BL-CA/SRB) specification
Price: $3300 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber BR-CAL.305 (base ETA 2895-2,) Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Black PVD stainless steel
Size: 41.00 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Brown calfskin with a tongue buckle in black PVD-treated steel
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective