Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche Swiss

With its new Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche automatic watch, the Franco-Swiss watchmaking brand keeps exploring the theme of vintage timekeepers and making another stride into the glorious past.

This time Bell & Ross draws its inspiration from the 1920s, often referred by the Europeans as the Golden Twenties. The devastating war followed by a chain of social revolutions was over and the continent enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom.

The boom was, in fact, the bubble poised to burst into a prolonged crisis detonated by the U.S. stock market crash of 1929, but nobody new about that or, rather, didn’t want to know.

When market only rises and just about anybody can become a wealthy person simply playing on the stock market, nobody wants to know that sooner or later the overheated market will correct itself steam engine style.

Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche automatic pilot's watch

That was the decade of technological advances, too, mainly in the fields of automotive and chemical industry and, of course, aviation.

Those aviators that didn’t want to find themselves in the air above the Channel with dry fuel tanks, needed accurate and reliable watches that would withstand the vibration as well as rapid changes in humidity and barometric pressure.

Guided by the invisible hand of Adam Smith, the free market readily offered them the so called pilot’s watch.

The timekeepers usually featured hand-wound pocket watch movements (hence the large cases) and, since the watches were supposed to be worn above heavy leather jackets, they were presented on longer leather straps. Eventually, the oversized case, high-contrast dial and a leather strap became a standard for this type of watches.

Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche automatic pilot's watch (front view)

Presented at Baselworld 2011 international trade show, the new Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche automatic wrist watch meets all those requirements.

Although powered by a relatively compact (in measures only 25.60 mm in diameter) ETA 2897 self-winding movement, the new watch is presented in a large 45 mm case.

Crafted of polished stainless steel, the case features a vintage styled, yet innovative design for its horns. Welded to the case, the horns have integrated spring bars that allow for easy replacement of the strap.

Like the other members of the Vintage family, the watch features a dome dial.

Galvanized black and featuring sunburst decoration, the dial serves as a perfect background for the large luminous Arabic numerals and baton-shaped indexes, as well as for the leaf-shaped hour and minute hands that also sport some luminous substance on their surfaces.

At 5 o’clock, there is a large sub-dial with a power reserve indicator: also a nice thing for a pilot’s watch.

The dial is protected from dust and moisture with a domed sapphire crystal with inevitable antireflective coating.

Bell & Ross plans to sell the watch at a recommended street price of $4500.

See also: Longines Twenty-Four Hours Pilot’s Watch (ref. L2.751.4.53.4)

Photos: Bell & Ross

Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche specification

Price: $4500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, caliber ETA 2897, 28,800 vph, 21 jewels, diameter 25.60 mm, height 4.85 mm, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case material: Polished stainless steel
Shape: Round
Case size: 45.00 mm
Dial: Galvanic black, sunburst, domed
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with tongue buckle in polished stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, domed
Back: Sapphire

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