Hands-On With The Cedric Bellon CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer — A Champion Of Sustainability
Some brands fit their watches with a dial made out of recycled plastics. Others combine a watch with a strap made out of old fishing nets. These, among other things, are all initiatives to make watches feel more sustainable. Nowadays, sustainability is a feature that contributes positively to the value of a watch. But what would happen if sustainability weren’t just a bonus feature? What if it were an integral part of the design process? Well, come take a look at how Cedric Bellon, a true advocate of sustainability himself, tried to make one of the most sustainable watches out there. This is the CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer.
Cedric Bellon is a watch designer who has worked with big brands like TAG Heuer, Bell & Ross, and Longines. In 2020, he funded his eponymous brand through the crowdfunding platform Watch Angels. The idea behind the watches under his name is to make them as sustainable as possible. That’s why each of them comes with a sustainability report. In it, you can see that Bellon considers the circular nature of the materials used, where they come from (the closer, the better), and how much energy and chemicals were used in the production process. For example, the CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer we’re looking at today got a score of 87.59%. This is in stark contrast to most other watches, which would score somewhere around 40% for sustainability. But what does such a sustainable watch look like? Well, come take a look!
The Cedric Bellon CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer
Let’s start with the basics. The 39mm case is made out of a material called PuReSteel. That means that the stainless steel that was used is 100% recycled, certified as such, and even its source is traceable. The skin-diver-style case is vertically brushed on the sides and circularly brushed on top of the lugs, and polished bevels serve as a transition between the two. From the top of the flat sapphire crystal, which protrudes a tiny bit above the brushed bezel, to the bottom of the circularly brushed case back, the watch measures 11.45mm thick.
A 47mm lug-to-lug span completes the CB01 GMT NK90’s dimensions. While it’s not an overbearing timepiece, it certainly has the sturdy look of a tool watch. The drilled lug holes, which aid in swapping out the 20mm-wide strap, only emphasize this further. And it doesn’t merely look sturdy but is also very capable thanks to a screw-down crown and a 200m water resistance rating. If you ask me, though, the real star of the show here is the vertically brushed stainless steel dial.
Double the steel, double the fun
The dial is made out of two layers of PuReSteel that are connected to the movement with two visible screws within the etched minute track. This double layer of steel gives the dial a sandwich-style character, but here, the recesses are filled with white Super-LumiNova, which has a green glow in the dark. At 3 o’clock, there’s a small and simple cutout for the date. The straight, fully brushed hands also look very functional, and the fourth hand for the GMT provides a refreshing splash of color with its bright orange arrow tip.
Cedric Bellon’s logo is etched at 12 o’clock, just like the “Chronomètre” and “200m” text at 6 o’clock. Surrounding the dial is a fixed, circularly brushed inner bezel that displays a 24-hour scale. Inside the CB01 GMT, you find a repurposed automatic Soprod C125 movement, which is COSC certified and, consequently, runs within +6/-4 seconds a day. It beats at a 28,800vph frequency and holds a power reserve of up to 42 hours. It’s a so-called “caller GMT” movement, which means it has an independently adjustable GMT hand instead of an independent 12-hour hand.
The CB01 GMT on the wrist
On my 17cm wrist, the CB01 GMT’s modest size works well. The case doesn’t have an exaggerated downward curve, but the lugs aren’t that long, either. The watch comes on quite a thick and very dark green handmade leather strap. It’s naturally tanned without the use of any chemicals. Even the stitching is done with natural linen and fixed with water-based glue. And just like the case, the quirky pin buckle is made out of recycled stainless steel. The strap and buckle do indeed suit the watch. However, to better match my style, I think I’d swap it for something like a rubber Tropic-style strap or a Bonklip bracelet.
The “NK” in the CB01 GMT’s full name stands for “naked.” This refers to the fact that other than the date, lume, and tip of the GMT hand, everything is raw steel. But what I love about the watch is that it doesn’t look flat or monotonous at all. I was afraid that the all-steel construction could come across as dull. But because of all the different finishes, the case, bezel, and dial offer a lot of contrasting surfaces. Depending on the way the light hits the dial, it can be very light or very dark. The same is also true for the inner 24-hour bezel and case. Thanks to this dynamism, it’s very amusing to twist your wrist and look at all the different surfaces.
A sustainable surprise
I’m very positively surprised by the Cedric Bellon CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer. “Sustainability” still doesn’t have the most exciting ring to it, and the all-steel construction made me expect a duller watch than the CB01 GMT turned out to be. Sustainably producing a watch also automatically comes with limitations. For example, you can’t use all the exciting colors or materials in the world. But even with limitations like that, I feel that Cedric Bellon has carefully and successfully tried to make the most of the CB01 GMT’s design.
The finishing is quite nice for a watch at this price point. Additionally, while the watch’s design comes across as a bit modest, I still feel that it has an identity of its own. What I also very much appreciate is the example that a watch like the CB01 GMT sets. If such a good-looking and high-quality watch can be so sustainable, why shouldn’t more brands be able to follow suit? Especially when you take its €1,750 price into account, you can see that sustainability doesn’t necessarily have to come at a higher price.
As you can see, I found the Cedric Bellon CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer quite impressive. Many smaller brands are launching GMT watches at a similar price point, but I applaud Cedric Bellon for doing so in the most sustainable way possible. I’ll certainly be following the brand to see what else Bellon is capable of.
For more information on the brand and its watches, please check out the official Watch Angels website.
Let me know what you think of the Cedric Bellon CB01 GMT NK90 COSC Chronometer in the comments below.