Bell & Ross Introduces the BR 01 Cyber Skull

Sci-fi polygonal skull.

Bell & Ross’ signature BR wristwatch is essentially an aviation instrument in a square case, a style that works well as a military watch, explaining the iterations in camouflage or a fighter jet “heads-up display”. Sometimes associated with airborne troops, the skull is a recurring theme for the BR series, and one that has been continually refined over the last decade.

The BR skull watch been redesigned both visually and mechanically, most notably with the proprietary, automaton-skull form movement of two years ago. With the new BR 01 Cyber Skull, the brand has taken a new aesthetic direction with a case and dial that is strikingly modern – polygonal, facetted, and very much like a sci-fi villain – making it vastly different from earlier skull watches that often seemed like nostalgic memento mori.

Initial thoughts

Bringing to mind Skynet and other technological villains, the Cyber Skull departs from the style of its predecessors that were characterised by an organic skull and elaborate case patterns, essentially a digitised version of the original BR Skull watch.

Though simple, the design is done well, with a cohesive aesthetic with the case and dial echoing one another. The case is clearly derived from the original BR-01, but done with more facets and angles, with the polygonal surfaces continuing on the skull and crossbones.

The BR 01 Laughing Skull White (left) and the BR 01 Cyber Skull

Both the case and skull are made of black ceramic, while the movement inside is the same calibre found in the Laughing Skull featuring a lower jaw that opens and closes as you wind the watch.

The updates in material and design come with an acceptable 10% increase in price against the Laughing Skull. Though the increase is modest, the cost of admission is already relatively high. The Cyber Skull costs US$10,900, which is significantly more expensive than most of the brand’s offerings. But considering the proprietary form movement with an unusual automaton, as well as the precise construction and finishing of the ceramic parts, it is reasonable.

Shaped exactly like the case, the sapphire crystal is 2.5 mm thick with bevelled edges

Floating skull

Looking like a menacing digital mirage, the skull appears to float within case. That’s thanks to the unorthodox movement construction: the calibre is shaped like a skull, hiding most of the mechanics underneath the ceramic skull on the front.

Arguably the only weakness are the indices printed on the underside of the crystal. Though they are not obvious, they stand out under certain lighting and interrupt the floating effect.

Both the case and skull are made of sandblasted black ceramic, as are the crossbones that sit over the bridges that secure the movement to the case at each corner.

Though not entirely new, the movement is the highlight of the watch. Unlike most B&R watches that rely on ETA or Sellita movements, the Cyber Skull is powered by the BR-CAL.206 developed by Concepto, a movement specialist that mainly caters to independent brands.

It’s a calibre smartly designed to accommodate the skull form. The barrel is located at six o’clock, and the gear train traces the edge of the skull, reaching up to the balance assembly at twelve o’clock.

And it incorporates a simple automaton at six. The lower jaw moves vertically when the mainspring is wound via the crown, a result of coupling the jaw to the barrel ratchet wheel.


Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull
Ref. BR01-CSK-CE/SRB

Diameter: 46.5 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: BR-CAL.206
Functions: Hours and minutes with skull automaton
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Rubber

Limited edition: 500 pieces
Availability: Now at Bell & Ross’ online shop, boutiques, and authorised retailers
Price: 
US$10,900; or 16,700 Singapore dollars

For more, visit bellross.com.

This was brought to you in partnership with Bell & Ross.


 

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Anordain Introduces the Model 1 Fumé

Scintillating smoked, translucent enamel.

Having made its debut two years ago with the original Model 1, Anordain has just announced the Model 1 Fumé that features a fired enamel dial in graduated, translucent colour. Based in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Anordain’s specialty are vitreous enamel dials in lightly-designed, affordable watches, and the Model 1 Fumé boasts the most elaborate dial to date.

Brightly coloured in the centre and darkening towards the edges, the dial of the new Model 1 is the result of experimenting with a silver dial base, instead of the usual copper. After a year’s worth of trial and error, Anordain’s pair of in-house enamellers finally perfected the smoked enamel dial.

Initial thoughts

With its fired enamel dial in pastel colours, the original Model 1 was an appealing watch with even more appealing value, being priced at a little under US$1,400 at the time. It was a modestly sized watch with a simple dial that was still distinctive, thanks to the proprietary typography and smart dial design. And the recognisable texture and colour of the enamel dial made it even better.

The new Model 1 is essentially identical in terms of size and style. Although the case has been subtly redesigned, it retains the same dimensions, which means it wears well and feels a little bit like a vintage watch, albeit one that’s quite thick for the diameter. But the new dial is far more striking. In fact, the dial is similar to that found on last year’s Model 2, a good-looking watch that is a little bit too small by modern standards.

The Model 1 Fumé is substantially pricier at a bit over US$2,300, but no doubt even more attractive because of the dial finish. And it is still good value, especially relative to what enamel dials usually cost, albeit not as much as the original run.

Smoked enamel

The dial starts out as a disc of silver with a slightly domed front surface that is hammered to create the visible graining. It’s covered in translucent enamel that’s then fired in the oven to melt the enamel and fuse it to the silver base.

That’s followed by sanding the enamel down to create a flat surface, a process that also thins the layer of enamel in the centre, resulting in a lighter coloured section where the grained surface is most prominent.

The case is almost identical to that of the original Model 1, though most of its elements have been slightly reshaped. The bezel, for instance, is now domed instead of flat, while the crown has small guards on either side.

It’s 38 mm in diameter and 11 mm high, with the height partially explained by the Sellita SW200-1 movement inside. A clone of the ETA 2824, the movement is robust and easy to service, but a fairly thick 4.6 mm high. But a good deal of the height is also due to the enamel dial, which is about twice as thick as a conventional stamped brass dial.

The dial is available in four colours for now, including a brilliant green and an unusual grey


Key Facts and Price

Anordain Model 1 Fume

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 11 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Sellita SW200
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Leather strap

Availability: Direct from Anordain with 12 pieces available for pre-Christmas delivery, with serial production in 2021
Price: £1,750 without taxes (approximately US$2,330)

For more, visit anOrdain.com.


 

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