Only Watch 2021: Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire

A delightful skull in orange crystal.

Bell & Ross has long featured the skull on its watches, a motif derived from its military-inspired designs. Modelled on the skull emblem often used by airborne units, the B&R skull watch has been refined over the years, with the latest being an all-ceramic wristwatch incorporating an automaton.

For Only Watch 2021, the watchmaker has created the BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire, a vivid, orange-tinted crystal skull encased in clear sapphire. It’s entirely incongruent with the brand’s typical no-no-nonsense aesthetic, but strikingly upbeat.

Initial thoughts

The original Cyber Skull is interesting for its materials and form movement featuring an automaton, making it a good base for the Only Watch edition, which departs from the all-black look in the direction of attractive and quirky.

Bell & Ross didn’t disappoint in its Only Watch endeavour. Clean, contemporary, and clear, the sapphire version is completely different from its past skull watches. The watch has a bright feel, with the orange being bringing levity (and echoing the colours of Only Watch 2021).

And it’s a big plus that the watch is technically unusual. While most B&R watches are powered by off-the-shelf ETA or Sellita movements (which, to be fair are unfailingly reliable), the Cyber Skull Sapphire is equipped with a proprietary movement in the shape of a skull.

It’s always the most valuable watches offered by high horology brands that get the most attention at Only Watch, so the more affordable watches in the auction are worth a look, and Cyber Skull Sapphire is one of them.

Clear case

While sapphire crystal isn’t novel – the first watch case in the material was introduced three decades ago by Alain Silberstein – it’s still relatively uncommon enough to make it interesting with the right execution. The visual impact of the form movement is unleashed with the all-sapphire case, which amplifies the airy construction and orange skull.

B&R cases are excellent, even for its affordable models, and this sapphire case looks to be precisely machined and finished. Both the crystal case and skull are made up of polygonal surfaces, featuring angular, sharp facets that call for complex machining to accomplish. The skull, for instance, starts out as six blocks of sapphire, each machined into one component of the skull.

Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Sapphire
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: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: 90,000-110,000 Swiss francs

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