WR: Which of the current range do you think that a pilot would be most likely to wear based on the style of the watch?
Bruno Belamich: In our collection, they are the boss. We have many partnerships and we work with Dassault which is an airplane manufacturer. When they chose a watch the first one was a round one and the second was square, in terms of our customers choice of the case it’s about 50/50. It’s like when you buy your first watch you might prefer to buy a status watch whereas someone would like to buy a Bell & Ross because they like the style. To sum up it depends on the customer and it’s a really personal thing. You are what you are and your tastes will be different to mine.
WR: We’ve spoken about the future of Bell & Ross, do you see the company introducing advanced manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing metal parts?
Bruno Belamich: I think your question is very good. We know that some sophisticated things such as aeroplanes already have 3D printed parts in them so of course there will be some. In the high range products it’s easy for them to do if they wanted. We already have a five dimension tooling machine, however the costs come from the programming the machine, but we can save money by making one design that can be made over and over again without much interference. The first brand that will do it will be very pleased with it as it’s a good idea on a commercial watch and I’m sure it will happen.
With new models there’s 2 different approaches, there’s designing a new version of an existing model and then there’s designing a completely new product with new volumes, new designs and new materials, for us the best seller is the 42mm square model. With a watch like that you need to re-design it every so often but keep the changes minimal. The Porsche 911 from the 60s to now keeps the same principal but has changed with the new technologies and techniques of today. With this chronograph we added the PVD coating on the steel case, for some this isn’t enough so we sit back and say “Ok, we’re going to make a watch in ceramic”. So we design a watch in ceramic. Regarding the thickness of the material, when you make a case from ceramic the case must be thick enough not to be fragile. The first evolution of the model we launched in 2006 is the one most known by the public, last year we launched the next model which is thicker and bigger in dimensions. And then we have the next version which is more show off and more complicated with the chronograph. Which this one the specification was to mix materials and play around with different colours. Of course, the price is different, if you want more you pay more.
WR: You’ve had an interest in cars for some time now, do you think that Bell & Ross might become a partner for motorsports?
Bruno Belamich: It’s a question of money. Sponsoring is expensive, the best you want will be expensive. When you pay a lot you want a return. We are a medium size company so our sponsoring is medium size. Until now we prefer to go through our website. But when the time comes if we have to invest in sponsoring it will be in more mechanical and technical stuff than classical music or something like that.
WR: Bell & Ross already has a market in the UK with high street jewellers such as Watches of Switzerland who retail them here. What brought on the idea to open a boutique here?
Bruno Belamich: It’s evident with luxury compared to a lower tier. You want to show it, you want to explain it. The best way to do that is with your people in your home. You experience the identity of the brand. We are very proud to be sold by the best shops in the UK but even for those shops it’s important to explain it. Here we are home and we can show our products in the most advanced way possible.