Bell & Ross Introduces the BR 03-94 Multimeter

A contemporary multi-scale chronograph.

Bell & Ross is back with another square instrument watch in black ceramic, but this time taking a sharp turn away from its traditional emphasis on no-nonsense, military-inspired style. Instantly different from the typical B&R offering, the BR 03-94 Multimeter prioritises colours and shapes, sacrificing the legibility in favour of style – which is not actually a bad thing.

Initial thoughts

The BR 03-94 Multimeter is ostensibly an instrument. The multi-scale dial can measure heart rate, respirations, or speed of travel for three forms of locomotion.

But that’s how it works in theory. It’s filled with an overload of colours, letters, and numbers, providing the wearer with five different scales to go with the chronograph, including three types of tachymetric scales, one each for running, biking, and driving.

Admittedly all that is more for aesthetic effect that practical usage. The dial isn’t the easiest to read, especially when driving or biking, but it certainly looks cool. It’s strikingly different from the usual military-inspired look of B&R, which can be monotonous.

Multi-scale

The various scales on the dial are highlighted in different colours – orange, bottle green, white, pale green and forest green. And each scale is accompanied by its own base and unit indicator, so the wearer can use the watch as a measuring device when the scale is read in tandem with the running chronograph seconds hand.

While the look is poles apart from the fighter jet instrument origins of the BR 03, the watch stays true to its roots with its trademark case of four screws holding a round bezel on a square case. The form was modelled on the cockpit instrument panel of a fighter jet.

Made of virtually scratch-proof, matte black ceramic, the square case gets the addition of rectangular chronograph pushers, a knurled crown. It measures 42 mm in width and 12.80 mm in height. And the watch is paired paired with a perforated black rubber strap and water resistant up to 100 m.


Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Multimeter
Ref. BR0394-SW-CE/SRB

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 12.8 mm
Material: Black ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: BR-CAL.301
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Rubber and additional fabric strap with Velcro closure

Limited edition: 500 pieces 
Availability:
 From Bell & Ross’ online shop, boutiques, and authorised retailers
Price:
 US$5,800, or 8,200 Singapore dollars

For more, visit bellross.com.


 

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F.P. Journe Revives the Vagabondage I – with a Few Tweaks

In 18K rose gold.

One of the most unusual amongst F.P. Journe’s offerings, the Vagabondage I was the first of a trio that combined a tortue case with an unconventional time display, along with dials that feature no branding at all.

Launched in 2004 and long gone from the brand’s catalogue, the Vagabondage I now makes a return with a new case, dial, and movement – all of which are improved over the original.

Initial thoughts

The original Vagabondage I was interesting because of its wandering, jumping hour display, along with the central balance wheel visible on the dial. Eighteen years later the new Vagabondage I is interesting for the same reason, because it is essentially the same watch.

While the new Vagabondage I has been updated in several ways, ranging from a larger case to a new movement, it retains the familiar look. That also means it looks like a watch from the early 2000s with a slightly dated air compared to most wandering hours on the market today.

But that’s exactly what makes it cool. It is an old idea but one that has been improved in just the right ways. Most important amongst them is the case, which wider and longer than the original, giving it dimensions almost identical to the Vagabondage II and III. It still remains elegant and wearable, but the new case size is more appealing than that of the original, which is a little too small.

Inching forward

Fans of the brand will be familiar with the story of the Vagabondage, but here’s a quick recap: it start with a one-off wandering hours wristwatch in a round case that Francois-Paul Journe made for a French collector, which eventually led to establishment brand seeking something similar, except in a tortue case, though the project eventually fell through.

Yet Mr Journe went ahead to complete three watches in the tortue case, one in each colour of gold. They are created and sold in 2004 at Antiquorum’s 30th anniversary auction. And then in 2006 the brand made the Vagabondage I as a limited edition of 69 pieces in platinum.

After almost two decades later, the Vagabondage I makes a return, having been refined. The new model has a more prominent hour track in a darker colour, and also the brushed balance bridge as opposed to the polished bridge in the original.

The difference in the design is most obvious when the watch in the hand, as it is immediately obvious the case is larger. Enlarged from from 34 mm by 42 mm to 37.5 mm by 42 mm – almost exactly the same as the Vagabondage II and III – the new size feels just right.

Inside the case is the cal. 1504.02, which is evolved from the cal. 1504 in the original. According to F.P. Journe, the original movement was a prototype of sorts, so it was not the ideal envisioned by Mr Journe.Now it has been transformed into a “better, more reliable caliber”.

The two movements are similar in their architecture, but the new calibre has a barrel bridge that cover the ratchet wheels of the twin barrels. The winding click spring now sits on the bridge, adding a bit of elegance with its curved outline, echoing the profile of the bridges.


Key facts and price

F.P. Journe Vagabondage I Gold

Diameter: 45.2 mm by 37.5 mm
Height: 7.6 mm
Material: 18k rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 1504.2
Functions: Wandering hours and minute
Winding
: Manual
Frequency: 21,600 vibrations per hour (3.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Black alligator

Limited edition: 68 pieces

Availability: On application; owners of the Vagabondage II and III in rose gold with matching serial numbers will be given priority
Price: Unavailable at press time

For more, visit Fpjourne.com.


 

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