Bell & Ross: An impressive 2016

The French watchmaker unveiled some serious timepieces and even a hypercar last year.

February 9, 2017

Last year was a big one for Bell & Ross. The aeronautical watch business unveiled not just new timepieces but something completely unexpected from the luxury French company; a concept hypercar. 

While the watchmaking industry as a whole had a difficult year, it was one of Bell & Ross' most notable. Here's a little look back at the three biggest announcements from the company's 2016.

BR-X1 RS16

As the Official Watch Partner of the Renault Sport Formula One™ Team, Bell & Ross continued to celebrate its partnership at the Formula 1 Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The 5.4 km Shanghai International Circuit, famous for its demanding changes of acceleration in winding turns and high-speed straights, was an exciting arena for the release of the limited edition pair of watches: the BR‑X1 RS16 and the BR‑X1 RS16 Tourbillon, named after the team’s R.S. 16 race car. 

Aero GT

Then came a surprise from the watchmaker, albeit one that still rung true of its ethos. At Baselworld, Bell & Ross unveiled not just watches but also a car - and not just any car. The AeroGT is an avant-garde concept hypercar, inspired by the streamline bodywork of a fighter jet. 

"Every year, in order to create new models, I need new sources of inspiration," says Bruno Belamich, the company's creative director. "Following the success of our B-Rocket motorbike in 2014, I wanted to go even further and design the Bell & Ross car. The aim was to produce a car that can ‘hold its own’, even amongst automotive professionals. But above all, this real challenge was a great joy."

Not only that, but the AeroGT concept car was the starting point for the creation of a new pair of watches inspired by the automotive world – the BR 03 AeroGT models. 

BR-X1 Skeleton Chronograph Carbone Forge

In 2014, Bell & Ross unveiled its new BR-X1 line, in the form of a high-tech, sporty chronograph. It was an extreme version of the BR-01, whose iconic square shape is directly inspired by aeronautical flight instruments. But the BR-X1 was much more than a high-end contemporary sports watch.

Then last year, Bell & Ross chose to incorporate a high-tech composite material in the design of the BR-X1 - Carbone Forgé. It then limited production of the new watch to just 250 pieces. 

To meet watchmaking quality criteria, the company's engineers had to rework the carbon fibre and composition of the watch's resin. The result was a non-porous, water-resistant single-unit case with clean edges. The marbled appearance of each piece is unique thanks to the random way the carbon fibres are mixed, while the matt finish reduces reflection for better legibility.