Bell & Ross is not only producing the rectangular aviation watches, but also has a fine collection of other models like the vintage series and the WW1 and WW2 collection (covered here and here). For me personally, the Vintage BR collection is very attractive as they offer very clean round watches at an interesting price point. Today, I will show you the Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H that Bell & Ross sent us just before the holidays.

Bell & Ross Vintage BR
Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H

During a diner with Bell & Ross not too long ago, they showed me a number of new models that were either just released or about to be released. One of the watches that drew my attention was this Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H. Quite a mouth full, but in fact is a very modest and clean-looking timepiece with one of the most important complications for mechanical watches – a second time zone.

Recently we featured this Bremont ALT1-WT World Timer that basically does the same as this GMT watch, indicating another time zone using an extra hour hand. However, where a World Timer watch like the Bremont has a dial filled with information about 24 different cities in 24 time zones (and a chronograph in this case), the Bell & Ross Vintage 123 GMT is a more modest timepiece that has much more the presence of a ‘tool watch’.

I won’t be insulting anyone or any brand if I write here that this Bell & Ross Vintage BR GMT seems to be inspired by the Rolex Explorer II Steve McQueen model. Even though the case shape and size are different, the beautiful matt finished 24 hour bezel and large orange 24 hour hand are clearly inspired by it. The dial with the large Arabic numerals reminded me of the 36mm Rolex Explorer (reference 114270) that my wife wears regularly.

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Bell-Ross-001In any case, it doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. On the contrary I’d say. The design is very likeable and you could say it’s a ‘proven design’ as well. The size is very comfortable on the average men’s wrist (42mm). The case has no crown guard, which I applaud, and has a satin brushed finish. The lugs of the watch are nice and edgy without becoming too sharp to wear. Some watches with sharp lugs have the tendency of sticking into the top of your wrist but in this case it is all good.

The watch comes on this weave rubber strap that doesn’t only look amazing, it also feels great on your wrist. It also remind me a bit of these old tropical straps that were used on diver watches long time ago.

Bell-Ross-005 Bell-Ross-004 Bell-Ross-003As you can see above, the buckle is beautifully (matt brush) finished and features the BR logo. The rubber strap has a nice soft inside and is marked Bell & Ross.

Bell-Ross-007The second time zone is very easy to set. You pull the crown into position one, and now you can either set the date by turning it counter clockwise or setting the 24 hour indicator by turning it clockwise. The crown is beautifully finished with the B&R logo.

Bell-Ross-002The movement is something that remains unmentioned in the press release or on the Bell & Ross website, but it is clearly based on an ETA 2893 movement. I am not sure why it isn’t mentioned on the website, as it would be one of my first questions to ask. Anyhows, good choice to use this movement. It is a movement with quite a track record and based on the good ol’ 2892-A2 with a GMT module.

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Bell & Ross has a strong feel for design, which also explains the interesting variations in their Aviation collection, and did a very nice job on this Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H. The comments I got when wearing it and when I already put some photos on our Instagram account (@fratellowatches) and Facebook were also very positive. I guess it is just one of those watches that is easy to wear and has a great vintage look while maintaining the current standards when it comes to size. The watch is just very wearable, which makes it a watch with a good potential!

However, most important aspect of a watch is of course the price tag. With a list price of 2700 Euro it is a very interesting timepiece. There are only few watches with a GMT function that have the same appeal as this Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 GMT 24H for this price.

More information and on-line ordering of this watch can be done here. All photos can be clicked for larger versions.

Robert-Jan Broer
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Robert-Jan Broer

Founder & Editor at Fratello Watches
Robert-Jan Broer, born in 1977, watch collector and author on watches for over a decade. Founder of Fratello Watches in 2004.
Robert-Jan Broer
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  • Ottokar3

    Well this is clearly inspired by both explorer watches and this is a good thing, as I strongly prefer the explorer one but love the second time zone on the explorer two. The bell and ross offers the best of both worlds, while being much cheaper than either. Of course the comparison is unfair considering the ETA-movement but still: great watch at this price point. Only (small) complaint: I would prefer it to be a bit smaller (maybe 40mm).

  • Kurt Klimisch

    I really liked this watch and almost bought it, but decided to get the Rolex Explorer II. Its a great design but the font size and type of the bezel numbers and the font of the 3-6-9-12 on the dial seemed like a mismatch and I know that would have started to drive me crazy if I purchased the watch. Plus the hour markers at 1-2-4-5-7-8-10-11 are too long.

  • Bluecat128

    Both Kurt & Otto are spot-on with their comments. I was enticed by the black dial, the large numbers, and the scissor-hands. I ended up buying both the Geneva and a Rolex Explorer 14270. Both compliment my Rolex Datejust (1995) nicely. If your Bell & Ross 123 is a keeper, consider buying the SS band (subtle, sharp look).