Much has been said about the Swiss watch industry’s longstanding relationship with Formula 1 and the world of automotive racing in general. Less so, however, about the French side of the equation.
Fans of French watchmaker Bell & Ross know it chiefly as a maker of watches designed in the style of aircraft instrument panels. What many may not even know is that the brand has a 4-year-old partnership with the Renault F1 team. With the release of its fifth collection of R.S. wristwatches honoring the automotive team, Bell & Ross is placing that relationship front and center.
The collection consists of four mechanical chronographs that represent, says Bell & Ross CEO Carlos Rosillo, “the coming together of two French brands united by their shared values and link to the world of extreme high performance, high tech and the use of materials adopting the latest technological advances and state-of-the-art materials.”
Styled with a futuristic bent, the models draw their sleek looks from Renault’s 2020 F1 car as well as the R.S. 2027 concept car, which comes with a trippy-looking 3-D-printed transparent cockpit.
Bell & Ross describes the BR V3-94 R.S. 20 model as the “tool watch” of the collection. Limited to 999 pieces, it comes in a 43 mm steel case with a bidirectional rotating bezel that can be used to measure short periods of time. The aesthetic details of the watch—from the typography, which is borrowed from the Renault F1 team, to the black and white checkered squares that decorate the minute track—all pay homage to the sport of motor racing. The piece is available for $4,400 on a calfskin strap and $4,700 on a stainless steel bracelet.
Next up is BR 03-94 R.S. 20, which comes in a 42 mm matte black ceramic scratchproof case in the brand’s signature square shape and features a tachymeter divided into two colored sections. Also limited to 999 pieces, the model retails for $6,500.
The BR-X1 R.S.20 is a skeletonized chronograph built with an experimental ethos. Housed in a 45 mm case made of PVD-coated titanium, ceramic and rubber—the same materials used in F1—the watch features an openworked dial, a PVD-coated steel ring around the bezel and pushers that evoke the paddle shifters on an F1 car. It retails for $21,500 and is available in a limited edition of 250 pieces.
Last but not least is the BR-X1 Tourbillon R.S.20. Limited to just 20 pieces, the $194,000 wristwatch comes in a 45 mm titanium case with ceramic and rubber elements. As the crowning piece of the collection, the manual-winding model is equipped with both a column wheel chronograph and a flying tourbillon, as well as 100 hours of power reserve.