Since their founding in 1992, Swiss watchmakers Bell & Ross have become renowned for their outsized, highly legible flight-inspired timepieces. Their original 2005 46mm square-cased model BR 01, with its aviation instrument looks and stark white-on-black dial looks like it was pulled directly from the cockpit of an F-15 fighter. It’s a design icon among those who favor a wristwatch with a bit of…presence. Since then, Bell & Ross’ stock in trade has canted heavily toward variations on that round-dial-in-a-square-case theme.
Then in 2019, Bell & Ross introduced the BR 05 series, which immediately took a more elegant approach toward refining some of their more militaristic designs. A smaller 40mm case with rounded corners, graceful chamfers, and a healthy dose of high-polish surfaces brought Bell & Ross into the realm of integrated-bracelet sports watches, a sub-genre of horology descended from Gerald Genta-designed masterpieces such as the archetypal Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the equally legendary Patek Philippe Nautilus. Heady company, indeed.
Bell & Ross’ latest variant, the BR 05 Skeleton Nightlum (available now for preorder) throws a few compelling curveballs, starting with that dial. For those unfamiliar with skeletonized dials, no, there are no skull and crossbones anywhere to be found on this watch (you’ll have to hunt down a limited edition BR 01 Laughing Skull for those kind of pirate-rock star vibes).
A skeleton dial by definition is one that offers the wearer a view of the movement in action. And what a view it is. The Calibre BR-CAL.322 automatic movement sports stealthy black finishing with a unique smoked sapphire plate, something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
And in stark contrast to many skeletonized watches, legibility is stellar on the Nightlum. Both the hands and the applied indices glow a bright green when night falls, thanks to the C5 Swiss Super-LumiNova. This is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished timepieces from the well-respected watchmaker to date and, for those seeking a watch that turns heads, it’s going to be a prime contender.
First Class Features
Specs are rounded out by the screw-down crown, 100 meters of water resistance, stainless H-link bracelet (with alternating brushed and polished surfaces), or black rubber strap, both with butterfly clasp. But seriously, get the bracelet. It’s the entire raison d’etre of the BR 05 line.
Since its introduction, the Bell & Ross BR 05 series has set itself apart from the utilitarian aesthetic of the original BR 01 by adding several levels of refinement to that original squared-off design. And while still resoundingly sporty, the latest BR 05 glides effortlessly from the flight deck to the boardroom. But don’t wait too long. The BR 05 Skeleton Nightlum is a limited edition of just 500 pieces.