Given the extended period between watch fairs this year and next (SIHH and Baselworld have vacated their respective January and March slots and will run back to back over a 11-day period starting on 25 April in 2020), watch brands were always going to hold back some big stories till now to fill the gap – and so it has proved. Here are some of the new watches giving the watchmaking landscape its shape this fall.
Bell & Ross BR 05
While many brands will content themselves with the launch of one halo piece at some point pre-Christmas, Paris-based tool-watch maestros Bell & Ross have gone the whole hog with a whole new line. The BR 05 taps into the 1970s vibe coursing through watch design at the moment, and even casual observers will note the visual similarities between the new piece and icons such as Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak. But suggesting it’s a copy-cat would be unfair – this is a standalone piece that deserves judging on its own merits, among which will of course be that it’s considerably less expensive and much more readily available than either of those models. The basic form is chunky but not overbearing, and defined by the marriage of square and round shapes, the four exposed screws in the bezel and the familiar Bell & Ross pilot’s watch dial. There are 10 models at launch, six time and date automatics, two with skeletonised dials, and two in rose gold, including one on a bracelet that is as distinctive as anything Bell & Ross has ever made. It represents a new direction for the company and has already split critics, but given the popularity of steel 1970s sports watches right now, it looks a smart move. Just one question remains – what happened to the Bell & Ross BR 04?