Among all these Baselworld 2017, one of the most interesting new watches I found was the Bell & Ross BR X2 Micro-Rotor Automatic. Because of a new case, movement, and special design, this circa $65,000 limited-edition watch is a pretty testament to why we like wearing bold layout with transparent mechanical movements. Bell & Ross president Carlos Rosillo was wearing it at Baselworld’ Bell & Ross stand, enthusiastically showing it off – Mr. Rosillo gets much more excited about his new products than any other brand leader I learned.
He asks me “what is the most important part of a wristwatch?” I’m very sure I know he hopes I will answer “the movement,” so I do. “Yes,” and he proceeds to explain to me how the design philosophy of the BR X2 watch is all about removing what appears to be the separation of case and movement, instead of melding it into one visual object. Therefore, with a steel movement plate between two thick layers of carefully machined sapphire crystal, there is a transparent sapphire case that connects directly to the movement. The effect is both visually stunning and rather novel.
Bell & Ross does this entirely for visual spectacle – and it actually works. When I last came across a concept resembling this, it was in the Piaget 900P (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here) which mixed with the movement plate and watch case to make the thinnest mechanical watch movement in the world. While the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is in fact thinner-feeling than the brand’s other square-cased “Instrument” replica watches, it isn’t about breaking size records. More importantly, it is about looking darn cool while also being something movement nerds can faithfully stand behind.
To move inside of the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic, Bell & Ross worked with the Swiss movement maker MHC. The movement is almost simple (for a tourbillon) and content, providing the time with tourbillon as the second’s indicator, and automatic winding via a micro-rotor which can be seen at the back of the movement. Bell & Ross replica uses their now-signature & logo on the cage over the variable inertia balance wheel tourbillon mechanism. The tourbillon is decidedly wide in diameter to provide a wide view on the dial.
Seeing the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic case from various angles permits you to appreciate the wonderful detailing and beveled edges of the sapphire crystal case top and rear. Obviously, the case is motivated by Bell & Ross’ now-iconic BR01 and BR03 collection of square-cased watches. With that said, the case is in fact a totally new version, even if it is based on the BR03 – which is 42mm wide. The Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is 42.5mm wide, so that’ only slight distinctions.
There are a huge number of ways in which a design such as this could have gone wrong – but I credit Bell & Ross’s serious attention to design detail for making something like the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic work as well as it does. In my opinion, it needs a mixture of insisting on various design elements (such as the hour track ring on the dial to help emphasize the watch face) as well as restraint in not adding too much to the overall case and movement design.
The best one I want to point out is, with its 42.5mm-wide square case and thin profile, the replica Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is a pretty nice timepiece making it completely acceptable for daily wear. This debut model (I have a feeling this is a concept Bell & Ross will return to in years to come) is placed on a tapered light gray alligator strap. What I think is most impressive about the overall look of the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is that it is decidedly a replica watch for mechanical movement fans, but it also enables to obtain a masculine sex appeal and does not look foolish.