Diamonds on a Bell & Ross sound a bit like diamonds on a Panerai: not done often nor suited for the style of watch. Yet Panerai did do a limited edition with diamond set numerals, their only official endeavor that incorporated these precious gemstones, and Bell & Ross, well, they have also embraced diamonds – but in a unique way, showcasing them for both the women’s as well as men’s range as part of their famed BR-collection.
It is quite a bold move by Bell & Ross to dress up a very masculine watch like the BR-01 with diamonds. After all, it came with a distinctive square case, that was a breath of fresh air when it was introduced in 2005, and also a design that made sense. It was, without a doubt, a watch for men, real men who that drank beer from the bottle, lived on red meat (preferably shot by themselves) and would think that modern day chivalry should at least include a Ducati as a trusty stallion. If “Top Gun” was re-created in 2005, Tom Cruise would have worn a Bell & Ross BR-01. Putting diamonds on a watch like this, then, gives you a 99% chance of creating a drag queen of watches, and one of the worst kind, without a sense of style, dignity or even the faintest clue on how to carry itself.
Yet like Bell & Ross’ approach to the traditional design of a “Flieger Uhr” as an addition to the BR-01 collection, the spirit they applied on the diamond set version of the watch is equally original and refreshing. It is a true balancing act, since too many diamonds would turn the watch into nothing but a display of wealth while adding no additional star-power to the strong original design, and yet too little would make the diamonds seem like an after thought. Therefore, Bell & Ross has designed for brilliant-cut, colorless diamonds to adorn the bezel as well as the corners of the watch. Those corners are actually where the difference is made as they feature a pave setting, in which Bell & Ross lined up the diamonds in straight lines. This is a more unusual approach to a pave-setting, since in most cases the rows of brilliant cut diamonds are set between each other to cover more metal. Bell & Ross deliberately broke with this tradition, and for the better!
It really is the specific setting of the diamonds in the corners that defines this watch. Not only setting it apart from other diamond set watches, it also enhances the overall design. With this watch Bell & Ross proudly shows that they understand the use of diamonds on mens watches: it is not about how many you put on the watch, but how you put them on the timepiece. This was indeed a delicate balancing act that Bell & Ross managed to acomplished with flying colors. It still may not be the watch of choice to go with your flight suit, but it does feel at home with the mess dress, especially when you drive one your Ducati to the event!
Special thanks to Gino Cukrowicz of Ginotti for providing the Bell & Ross for the photo shoot.
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics