Although different alloys of silver are popular among jewelers all over the world, serious watchmakers aren’t especially fond of the metal. However, Bell & Ross has fairly recently updated its vintage-styled WW1 collection with the new Bell & Ross WW1 Argentium model. As the name implies, the watch is crafted using their proprietary “argentium” alloy of silver and some other, unspecified metals.
Following in the footsteps of the WW1 Jump Hours Power Reserve model that was presented early this year right before Baselworld 2012 trade show, the new WW1 Argentium keeps getting smaller and smaller. While the first members of the collection were presented in deliberately over-sized bodies whole 45 millimeters in diameter, the power reserve version was reduced in size to 42 mm and this model in silver now measures only 41 millimeters. Which is a good thing.
From where I stand, the size is ideal for a watch that, while being sold as an heir to pre-war pilot’s watches that were large and heavy, looks dressy and elegant and more suitable for a business suit rather than for a bomber jacket.
For this model, the Swiss watchmaker used the good old ETA Peseux 7001 caliber: a hand-wound engine, which is extremely popular among independent watchmaking brands that use the ebauche to power their “slim” timekeepers (well, even such 400-pound gorillas as Blancpain and Omega use them as bases for their Caliber 7001 and Caliber 651 respectively, so, as you probably have already started to suspect, the mechanism is good).
Although its mainspring is not long, the movement beats at a pretty slow pace of 21,600 vibrations per hour, so it is still good for whole 42 hours: a de facto industry standard for mechanical watches in this price range.
Although the movement usually serves as a good base for all sorts of decor, this particular specimen was for some reason hidden behind a solid-argentium case back cover. As a sort of compensation, Bell & Ross decided to decorate the cover with a finely done Barleycorn guilloche motif.
So far, the Bell & Ross WW1 Argentium is presented in two versions: one with a solid silver dial and another with a ruthenium-one (it’s probably ruthenium-plated) with the latter looking like a more interesting choice, since the darker-tinted metal offers a more contrasting background for the leaf-shaped silver hands, as well as applied hour markers and Arabic numerals.
Photos: Bell & Ross
Bell & Ross WW1 Argentium Hand-Wound specification
Price: $5900 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-Wound, ETA Peseux caliber 7001, NOS, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Case: Argentium alloy
Size: 41.00 mm
Dial: Silver or Ruthenium
Hour markers: Applied
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Grey leather strap with pin buckle in Argentium
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved with Barleycorn motif