BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
Horology and aeronautics go hand in glove. For a long, long time, a precise mechanical wristwatch was the best friend of a pilot, keeping them on time and headed in the right direction. Nowadays, pilots use sophisticated GPS systems, but mechanical watches still hold a place in the heart of both those who do fly and those who wish they could someday. As a celebration of this, Bell & Ross launches the BR 03-94 Patrouille de France.
Being a French manufacturer of Swiss watches, Bell & Ross is quite used to supplying the French government with professional instruments. As you’ll know, Bell & Ross is most famous for its square-cased watches that are designed to look like they’ve come straight out of an aeroplane’s cockpit.
This particular piece has been designed for the Patrouille de France, the French Air & Space Force’s premier aerobatic display team. They’re one of the world’s most famous and most skilled display teams, on the levels of the Blue Angels and the Red Arrows from the US Navy and Royal Air Force respectively.
The watch features the square case we’ve come to know and love from Bell & Ross. It has a matte black ceramic case as opposed to the usual PVD-treated steel. It measures 42mm across and is water-resistant to 300m. The BR 03-94 comes equipped with the Tricoleur on the dial, the blue dial with red and white details looks thoroughly modern, while the Patrouille de France logo is placed at 6 O’clock. Like all Bell & Ross watches, it’s extremely legible, as necessary for a pilot.
Inside the 500 limited edition watches is an automatically-wound BR-CAL.301, a renamed ETA 2894-2 with a 42-hour power reserve and 4Hz beat rate. It’s a very reliable movement that is fairly common and therefore should be easy to service. The watches Bell & Ross has made for the pilots of the Patrouille de France will have quartz movements in which are much more accurate.
Offered with a black rubber strap and an additional fabric strap secured with Velcro, the BR 03-95 Patrouille de France and is available from Bell & Ross dealers, boutiques and their online boutique for a price of $6400.
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