Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze – An Unexpected Delight
After several years of not meeting with Bell & Ross, we sat down with the brand at Baselworld 2019 and we found a winner in the new Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze chronograph.
I could say “Bellytanker” all day long – it’s simply that fun. That being said, the word “belly” just doesn’t come to the forefront of watch-related names, but here we are with the Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze chronograph and in our brief time with it, we came away impressed.
The New Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze
The Bellytanker name used in the Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze stems from emergency fuel tanks hanging from the bottoms of older fighter planes. As B&R’s website also tells us, the name is also used synonymously for salt flat cars made out of said tanks. Several years ago, a limited edition stainless steel chronograph and three-hand model were released with sandy colored dials. They were good looking watches, but this new piece is truly eye-catching.
A Bronze Case that Won’t Oxidize
The new Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze chronograph, as the name states, has a case made of the copper and tin alloy. Unlike the vast majority of bronze-cased watches we come across, though, this material has been passivated. Now, what B&R means by this is that the case really won’t oxidize and turn color like most we see. We weren’t offered much detail on how this is done, but my guess is that the case has been coated in some sort of lacquer to keep oxygen from doing its work. So, the bottom line is that you’d better like gold – or at least its color – if you’re going to consider this watch.
A Warm Dial
With a black tachymeter bezel including gold numerals and a twin-register reverse panda look, the Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze pulls in just enough vintage Daytona cues to make it seem familiar, but there’s enough uniqueness due to applied stick and Arabic indices to remain fresh. Bell & Ross also did a nice job of keeping the hands fairly slim and the result is that one’s focus truly rests on the dial. That’s a good thing in my book because there’s a real warmth going on here that really works against a tanned skin tone. Coming back to the dial, I would’ve chosen to eschew the circular date window that sits at 4:30, but it’s relatively unnoticeable with its gold font on black background.
The Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze contains a domed sapphire crystal, screw-down crown and pushers, and scre-down case back. All that adds up to a vintage looking 41mm chronograph with a modern 100M of water resistance. Inside the Bellytanker, we have the BR-CAL.301, which is essentially an ETA 2894-2. It’s a 37-jewel modular chronograph with a 42-hour power reserve. It’s nothing overly unique, but it’s known to be a reliable workhorse. B&R fits its chronograph on a black calfskin strap with a bronze butterfly clasp.
..despite Tudor’s use of an in-house movement and a name associated with Rolex, I actually like the looks of the Bell & Ross more!
Our Thoughts and Pricing
It’s truly amazing how tow-tone, gold, and gold-tone watches have come back into vogue. I sometimes wonder whether people were truly asking for them or if watch companies simply felt the need to push something new until the public finally decided to accept. For me, it’s fine as I enjoy colors apart from basic stainless. The Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze chronograph is a slightly different offering with its unique case, but I’d like it a bit to another new release we saw at Baselworld in the new Tudor Black Bay Chronograph Steel & Gold. What’s amazing is that despite Tudor’s use of an in-house movement and a name associated with Rolex, I actually like the looks of the Bell & Ross more! And, at least a couple of my team mates felt the same. At 4,900 Euros and in a limited run of 999 pieces, the new Bellytanker certainly doesn’t qualify as inexpensive, but it’s a damn good looking watch.
News on the Bell & Ross Bellytanker Bronze isn’t current on the official site, but keep checking for more information.