With this 2021 Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT, the Swiss brand finally adds a nice square-shaped, multiple time-zones “aviator” to their extensive product range.
It is not the first time that Bell & Ross experiments with the concept of a multiple time-zones watch. In fact, you may call this BR 03-93 GMT a repackaged version of their earlier BR V2-93 GMT collection. Released back in 2018, the older version differed from the new one only in the shape of the case and the color scheme. The movement, the dial layout, and even the fonts share the same DNA, although the newer model is deliberately more brutal.
Well, the same to a degree: the Caliber BR303 no longer uses a refinished ETA caliber 2893-2 as its base. Now, it is a Sellita SW330: a drop-in clone of the same 2893-2 but with four more jewels for a smoother operation.
Not as versatile style-wise as the V2-93 GMT, the “square edition” looks flashier and decidedly sportier, though, which I love.
Case, Bezel & Strap
For the square-shaped version, the Swiss-based watchmaker tried to keep the physical dimensions more or less the same as those of the circular-shaped one.
The stainless steel body measures 42 mm in width: just a millimeter over the previous model. The stainless steel bezel with an anodized aluminum insert is still slightly larger than the case for better handling.
Alas, the crown is still small: it is just too short for men with thicker fingers to operate comfortably. Also, if you lead an active lifestyle, you should take into account that, unlike with the “round” version, this BR 03-93 GMT does not feature any sort of crown guards leaving the winding stem unprotected from occasional shocks.
When it comes to pure aesthetics, the case looks gorgeous with its polished and machine-brushed surfaces and oversize screw heads. The bezel, too, makes a great impression thanks to the chosen combination of black and red colors on the aluminum insert.
As for the strap, it is premium matte-black calfskin leather with the usual larger-than-life steel pin buckle. A complimentary military-style synthetic fabric strap does not look as impressive but is nice to have for those times when one wants to experiment with a different style for their watch.
Not so many brands can afford to design and build their own mechanisms. For decades, ETA calibers were the most popular choice among independent brands and small conglomerates until the Swatch Group put a stop to it around ten years ago.
Sellita was among the first manufacturers who came to save the day with their own (virtually) drop-in replacements. The Sellita SW200, for example, replaced the iconic ETA 2824 three-hander, while the GMT-ready SW330-1 offers a nice alternative to the ETA 2893-2.
The mechanism is as simple and reliable as the one that it has replaced. It features an extra hour hand that displays time in a military 24-hour format, as well as the usual calendar and central seconds.
Besides such usual (and nice-to-have) features as manual winding and hacking seconds, there are quick adjustments for the GMT hand and the date via the multifunctional crown.
Bell & Ross doesn’t elaborate on the version of the mechanism in this particular model, but even the lowest-grade Special version is adjusted to four positions and has an isochronism of +/-15 seconds/day, which is not bad.
Still, for such an expensive item, I would prefer it to feature something more exclusive than a simple fine-tuned Sellita.
Dial & Legibility: 4.5/5
The legibility is not great, but it is not terrible, too.
The 12 applied stick-shaped hour-markers are large enough for generous drops of Superluminova that allow good nighttime readability. These play nicely with even bigger patches of the lume on the broad sword-shaped hour and minute hands. The four Arabic numerals, regretfully, come sans any luminous compound on them. Yet, the digits, too, look great with their brushed surfaces and the instantly recognizable italicized font.
As usual with Bell & Ross, my main complaint here is about how the date window is woefully small. I mean, the date aperture is even smaller than the circle housing the brand’s signature & sign in the logo!
Unlike the aforementioned BR V2-93 GMT, this one (theoretically) can display not two, but three time zones. The first is in the usual 12-hour format, and the two others are in a 24-hour one which is customary for the ETA 2893 and its clones. Between the two, one is a virtual that comes courtesy of the rotating bezel and requires some simple mental calculations to work. Frankly, it looks like a marketing BS for me whose simple purpose is to make the watch stand out over the huge crowd of other 2893-based models.
Pricing & Availability
At €3800, the BR 03-93 GMT is not terribly expensive: something like an Omega Planet Ocean GMT with an in-house caliber would set you back at around €2000 more. A Breitling Avenger GMT with their version of the aforementioned ETA 2893-2 would cost you about €4350 before discounts. So, adding to the equation BR’s unique design language, I would say that the price is more or less justified for what this watch actually is: a very nice piece of jewelry with a very short list of functions.
Photos: Bell & Ross
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Bell & Ross BR 03-93 GMT 100M (ref. BR0393-BL-ST/SCA) specification
Movement: Bell & Ross caliber BR303, based on Sellita SW330, Swiss Made
Movement finish: No data
Number of Jewels: 25
Cadence of Balance: 28,800 vph
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT, date
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel: Anodized aluminum
Crown: Stainless steel
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Black sunray
Hour markers: Applied, luminous (Superluminova)
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Matte black calfskin leather with steel pin buckle / Complimentary synthetic fabric strap
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective coating