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.
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.
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.
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
Diameter: 46.5 mm
Water resistance: 50 m
Functions: Hours and minutes with skull automaton
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 48 hours
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.
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