The new Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Carbon Orange limited edition automatic watch is easily recognizable thanks to its boxy case and diamond-shaped hands, perfectly legible with its high-contrast color scheme and, all in all, is a nicely designed model. What more do you expect from a pilot’s watch made by one of the most outstanding brands among Swiss watchmakers? Perhaps, a movement of higher pedigree would be a good start. Still, if you are not after a hand-made in-house caliber that powers a watch that costs more than a Korean SUV, this one may be one of the most well-balanced choices for you.
Frankly, I like this model a lot better than the Bell & Ross BR03-94 Tornado Chronograph that the Swiss-based brand has introduced around four months ago. It is not just the trendy black and orange color scheme that seems to be embraced by almost all watchmaking brands starting with Deep Blue and Chr. Ward and climbing all the way up to Alpina and Omega.
The thing is that the watch makes an impression of a well-designed, nicely balanced piece. Even if you don’t opt in for the proprietary orange canvas strap and choose a black rubber band instead, the use of orange is limited to just a few color accents on the dial that look very modest and tasteful, not screaming for your attention, but still visible at a first glance.
Even the “Ltd” inscription, which is painted inside a small orange circle doesn’t really look like a corpus alienum here since it nicely mirrors a circular date aperture of the same size placed between four and five hours.
By the way of speaking of the date window, please note that the Arabic numerals on the calendar disk are printed in such a way that they always look perfectly vertical, while most other watches, even quite expensive ones, with the apertures placed at the same position have the numerals tilted about 45 degrees to the right: a minor, but still annoyance that basically tells you that the manufacturer was too lazy to replace the stock calendar wheel with an exclusive version.
Traditionally, B&R’s pilot’s watches are easily readable in any lighting conditions thanks to their high-contrast color scheme and enormous amounts of lume on their dial elements. Compared to most Breitlings, the BR 03-94 model in general and this Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Carbon Orange in particular look like a study in legibility: something that you can rightfully expect from a watch that draws its inspiration form a fighter plane instrument gauge.
Somewhat regretfully, this beautiful model is equipped by a run-of-the-mill ETA 2894-2 automatic caliber. There is probably nothing terribly wrong with it, but it’s something like buying an Aston Martin or a top of the range Jaguar sports coupe just to find out that its A/C knobs were outsourced from a lot less inspiring Ford Mondeo.
In its press release, the brand reports that the watch will be issued in a limited lot of just 500 pieces. Pricing will probably be announced after the watch is revealed in flesh at Baselworld 2014.
See also: Omega Speedmaster Mark II 1969 Reissue
Photos: Bell & Ross
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Carbon Orange Limited Edition watch specification
Price: $6000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, caliber ETA 2894-2, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 37
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Case material: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Square
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 12.10 mm
Lug width: No data
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: White, luminous
Hands: White, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black rubber strap or an orange canvas strap with a steel black PVD pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: No data