I have a weird relationship with Bell & Ross, and thanks to the release of the Bell & Ross BR-V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze, it’s about to get a whole lot weirder.

There is something I need to get this off my chest. I don’t see the point in buying a Bell & Ross unless it’s square. That’s a fair enough opinion, right? It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? The brand is all about the cockpit instruments, isn’t it? Well, yeah. It’s a fair enough opinion. But it’s also the first part of an enormous contradiction I’ve been trying to hide from the world for two years now.

I own a Bell & Ross WWI Guynemer special edition. And I want to own a Bellytanker Bronze. Worse still? I think I’m a little bit in love with the new Bell & Ross BR-V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze. And here’s why…


You can’t sleep on good design

In the luxury watch industry, branding is everything. You could build the best watch in the world and no one would care if they couldn’t get on board with your company ideals and message. Bell & Ross, for all its detractors, built a brand brilliantly. The story was simple and resonant. The cases were bang on-trend and instantly recognizable. They were also really simple to manufacture, which helps when it comes to building a profitable business. I imagined that Bell & Ross would enjoy the same “five years of cool” that many such brands experience before interest wanes and buyers move on to the “next big thing.”

Except Bell & Ross is, nor has ever been one of those brands that are happy to smash and grab its way to overnight profitability and before dumping their ambitions on the scrapheap of credibility before disappearing into the night. No, this brand has dreams. And now we’re seeing those dreams come to life, 28 years after foundation.

Some of them (definitely not all) passed the test.

Round watches were never on my radar for the brand. When these “normal” looking creations started hitting the market I was not a fan. I was fervently against it. I didn’t see the point. If I wanted a round watch, why would I buy a Bell & Ross for 5K when I could easily buy an Omega for the same price? Well, the answer, as became apparent to me, is that you can’t sleep on good design. Reluctantly, I stopped looking at these round watches from Bell & Ross with my brain and used my eyes instead. Some of them (definitely not all) passed the test.


For modern urban explorers

The press release informs me that the Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT Blue, the Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Green, and the Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze watches are for modern urban explorers. Simply, these are regular watches for regular guys who have a few thousand euros to spend on a timepiece. Neither the BR V2-93 GMT Blue, nor the Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Green does anything for me, but I must say that the BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze is a stunner, and slots right in behind the Bellytanker Bronze as the most desirable round chronograph the brand has ever produced, in my opinion.

This trio of releases is obviously playing on the land, air, sea trope that it seems obligatory for every brand under the sun to peddle at least once. And, to be quite frank, hitting a home run on one of the three designs is a pretty good result. I also like the military green dial with the wisely-chosen black bezel, but it has so much competition in its price segment I can’t see it beating out its rivals.


As solid as it gets

When it comes to expanding a product line the powers that be have decided needs expanding, ensuring steady growth without ruffling too many feathers is often the best path to tread. As such, this release is just about as solid as it gets. It is an assured step in the direction of more mainstream fare. Sandwiched between two incredibly digestible models is the Aéronavale Bronze, which boasts a little bit of the “wow” factor.

Limited to 999 pieces…

The Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT Blue will retail for $3,500 on the bracelet and $300 less on the strap. You’ll have to shell out $2,990 to get the Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Green of the strap or $3,300 for the bracelet. And at the top of the tree, the Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Aéronavale Bronze, which is limited to 999 pieces, will set you back $5,200. Visit the official Bell & Ross site here.