On the tail of Bell & Ross’s in-house race car and motorcycle concept designs, the brand’s cofounder Bruno Belamich dreamed up a futuristic operable beta racing plane with Nevada’s Reno Air Races in mind. Besides being a watchmaker, Belamich is an inventor of sorts, tinkering with imaginative new designs outside of his everyday horological realm. His latest novelty, the new BR-Bird prototype racing plane, inspired two new timepieces: the 38.5 mm BR V1-92 Racing Bird ($2,300) and the 41 mm BR V2-94 Racing Bird ($4,700). Each watch is limited to 999 pieces, and both take their aesthetic cues from the avant-garde design of the BR-Bird.
Ever since he began his career endeavors as an industrial design student in the ’90s, Belamich has married his passion for design and watches—in fact, his graduation project proposed the launch of Bell & Ross. In recent years, Belamich has created high-octane concepts in the aviation and automotive arenas that have given birth to Bell & Ross timepieces, including the 2017 Bellytanker race car, the 2016 Aéro-GT supercar, and the 2014 B-Rocket motorcycle.
The plane design features a cockpit placed toward the rear of the plane, short broad wings, and a Y-shaped empennage designed as a propeller-engine aircraft powered by a V-12 Rolls Royce/Merlin engine (used during WWII in Spitfires and P-51s), allowing the plane to reach a maximum speed of 909 km/h (Mach 0.73).
Taking its inspiration from the plane’s fuselage, both timepieces feature a white dial, metal-skeleton Superluminova-filled hour and minute hands, and numerals and a bezel that mimic the blue of the empennage. Each timepiece directly references flight instrumentation, with numerals featuring the same typography as the onboard counters and a date window showing three numerals. The date window is dropped into the running-seconds sub dial on the chronograph version. The second hand (on the BR V1-92) and the second timer (on the BR V2-94) feature the silhouette of the aircraft, which is also featured on the casebacks of the timepieces. The BR V2-94 chronograph’s counter at 9 o’clock carries on the blue and orange motif of the plane and incorporates the color gray, referencing the flags used in speed competitions. The result is a sporty timepiece with just the right dose of color that nods to Bell & Ross’s aviation themes. Since its inception, the watchmaker has joined forces with aeronautical control-panel specialists to create pieces inspired by aviation and military history.
Both timepieces are powered by a self-winding movement and come in either blue calfskin with an orange-lined strap or a satin-polished steel bracelet.