In many ways, the arrival of Bell & Ross’ BR-X1 collection in 2015 heralded a decidedly new direction for the brand. Upon its launch, it was accompanied by a concept motorbike called the B-Rocket that was a step away from their heavy aviation influence. Then, last year, the BR-X1 case was the perfect tool to accompany yet another side project of their creative director, the AeroGT car; and with the BR-X1 Hyperstellar reaching to the outer rims of Earth’s atmosphere, it proved that the brand is no longer relying solely on its aeronautical roots to sell watches.
Almost as a magnum opus of the BR-X1 collection, we now have the BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire, which most definitely sits at the top of the food chain—both in technical terms and price. More than just a watch, we think this timepiece is the brand’s declaration to the world that they have transcended far beyond the novelty concept of cockpit gauges, and now have the watchmaking know-how to propel them into the future. Why else would you make a multi-part case, which has to be milled out of multiple blocks of sapphire crystal, if not to say, because we can?
This crystal-clear case was cut out of six blocks of sapphire to be precise and, once assembled, the middle piece, the back, the top, the crystal and the two bumpers are held together by screws that are the only things obstructing a 360-degree view of the movement within. The skeletonised BR-CAL.285 movement offers a flying tourbillon as a kinetic sculpture, visually pleasing as always; and we can imagine, due to the transparent case, watching the mechanism move as you activate the chronograph would be fantastic to watch as well. Even the strap offers a unique mix of materials that merges translucent rubber with a metallic Kevlar weave.
If you’re looking for the crown jewel of Bell & Ross watches, this is definitely it for now (and you can expect to fork out a king’s ransom to own one as well). But perhaps the more important question to ask is: what comes after this? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.