With its new Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche, 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 knew about that or, rather, didn’t want to know.
When the 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.
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 chronometers 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 instruments 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.
Presented at Baselworld 2011 international trade show, the 2011 Vintage WW1 Reserve de Marche 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 gadget 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 domed 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 an “aviator.”
The dial is protected from dust and moisture with a domed sapphire crystal with inevitable anti-reflective coating.
Bell & Ross plans to sell the watch at a recommended street price of $4500.
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: Polished stainless steel
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 a tongue buckle in polished stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, domed