Watches: Bell & Ross BR 01 and BR 03 B-Rocket (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on May 26, 2014

Since its creation, Bell & Ross has shown an unconditional love for all things related to the world of aviation and it remains the only brand that has been able to mix the aesthetic of cockpit instrumentations with fine watchmaking. Despite being entirely associated with the universe of aeronautics, the brand managed a noticeable foray into motor sports in 2011 thanks to a collaborative project with the Speed & Custom wing of Shaw Harley Davidson, known for their outstanding customisations of famous bikes.

Named “Nascafe Racer”, the result of this partnership toured the world bringing a lot of media and public attention to Bell & Ross and even finished third in the 2011 American Motorcycle Dealer World Championship of Custom Bike Building. This marketing success prompted Bell & Ross to push the concept even further and they commissioned Shaw Harley Davidson to build a more radical motorcycle, the B-Rocket, inspired by the iconic world of the first jet planes designed during the 1960s in the United States.

The B-Rocket designed by Bell & Ross and built by Shaw Harley Davidson

This concept bike features extremely aerodynamic lines with a low driving position and is somehow reminiscent of a rocket, hence the name. We are told that over 30 different sections of steel were used to create the rear section directly inspired by an aircraft canon and perfectly in lines with the codes of the 1960s experimental aeronautics. The impressive side-mounted turbines help to rapidly discharge air to achieve higher speeds. They are of course highly evocative of two jet engines and are an important factor in the success of the overall design.

The introduction of this beautiful concept motorcycle during Baselworld 2014 was also the opportunity to unveil two new timepieces, the BR 01 B-Rocket and the BR 03 B-Rocket, showcasing design codes in direct connection with the eponymous bike.

With a stainless steel square case of 46 mm, the BR 01 B-Rocket is by far the sportier and more masculine model. The presence of a chronograph function as well as a tachymeter scale makes it perfectly faithful to its motor sports origins. Graphically, the watch is uncompromising with its unusually large white chronograph minutes counter at 9 o‘clock and thick white half minute track (surrounded by a tachymeter scale), both standing out on this matt black dial. Aesthetically, the small seconds at 3 o’clock and the chronograph 12-hour counter positioned at 6 o’clock replicate the graphic displays found in experimental vehicle testing. Powered by a self-winding ETA 2894 calibre, this timepiece is mounted on black padded calfskin leather with contrasting red edges and lining that suits perfectly with the motorcycle theme.

The BR 03 B-Rocket is of modest size in comparison with its 42 mm stainless steel case. It relies on the same aesthetic codes as the BR 01 B-Rocket with a matt black dial featuring a red triangle at 12 o’clock and paired with the same padded leather strap secured by a pin buckle. Technically, though, the watch is totally different and features a large date at 12 o’clock and a sectorial power reserve at 6 o’clock. They both have been skeletonised for a more technical look and are paired with the same graphic minute track as the first model presented.

Both watches are a clear departure from Bell & Ross’ usual aesthetic codes while strangely still carrying the brand’s DNA. The strap is absolutely brilliant and part of the reason why I enjoyed these watches so much. I also have the feeling that they could bring new customers to the brand as they may appeal to a different audience than the brand’s usual production. The partnership with Shaw Harley Davidson seems to truly inspire the brand and I do hope this is only the second step of a long and successful collaboration.

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: