By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
Recently, I got the chance to acquire a new Bell & Ross BR02-92 Pro Dial dive watch courtesy of a closing down sale at a high-end watch shop in Kuala Lumpur. The discount was so deep that the official receipt retained the suggest retail price of MYR15,700 (approximately USD5,138 @24 April 2013) as the Authorized Dealer did not what to get into trouble with the principal, B&R. Anyway, that’s a neat story that I may cover in another article.
The shape of the BR02 is a mix between the iconic square case of the Aviation series and the traditional round case of the Vintage series. Coupled with an internal bezel instead of external like other typical dive watches, it is quite common for people to initially assume it to be a sports watch or even a dress watch before recognizing its true design role.
This is a serious tool watch. Able to withstand hydrostatic pressure up to 1,000 meters deep with an automatic helium escape valve mechanism in place, this watch is a true divers’ watch. Despite the BR02 having a 44mm wide steel case using the 316L stainless steel compound, the unique shape of the watch casing hides the size easily. It also sits on the wrist very comfortably. This particular model is PVD black-coated.
The model comes with the standard rubber strap with the brand initials “BR” prominently stamped. The curve shape of the strap as it integrates beautifully with the unique casing makes the whole package looks cool. B&R also provide a secondary canvas strap with this watch. However, although sufficient for the job at hand, it is not as beautifully designed as the rubber piece. Unfortunately, this also means it would be difficult to get after-market straps that can replicate the symmetry of the original rubber piece.
The BR02 dial is clean apart from the date window near the 5 o’clock position. The glass is anti-reflective sapphire. Due to the depth rating, I believe the crystal must exceed the 3 mm thickness and a slight curvature (see the second photo below) can be discerned. The anti-reflective treatment appears to be working perfectly as you can easily see the dial without any problems of refraction.
The case-back is solid with a simple “&” logo etched at the centre. You can also see the automatic helium escape valve surrounded by an orange shroud.
The two screw-down crowns control the movement as well as the internal bezel. The crown at the 3 o’clock position allows you set the time, hour as well as the date function. Through the crown, you have winding as well as hacking capabilities.
B&R uses the Sellita SW200 movement. I have no issue about this movement as the quality and the relative efficiency of Sellita’s movements have been proven to be good. However, the price to which B&R set this watch does not justify it. Similar watched with the same capabilities but using either Citizen Miyota 8/9xxx series or the Seiko NH3x series movements are available at a fraction of the cost of the BR02. Case in point is the Citizen NH6931 Autozilla (water rating 1,000 meters; Miyota 8203B) retail price USD1,750 or the Deep Blue Sea Diver (water rating 1,000 meters; Seiko NH36) retail price USD399 or Ocean7 LM3 V2 (water rating 1,250 meters; ETA2824) retail price USD699.
Hopefully, B&R will look into coming out with their own movements to at least justify their price!
Meanwhile, the second crown at the 2 o’clock position controls the internal bezel. I read a lot of request from people to allow the bezel be bi-directional instead of uni-directional as it is now.
Their argument is that the crown can be screwed down after it is set, making it impossible to accidentally adjust. A lot of them don’t understand under the global ISO 6425 Divers’ Watch Standard, the uni-directional bezel is a must. If this is changed, the watch cannot be called a diver certified watch.
Wearing this watch is a pleasure. Despite the size, it rests well on the wrist due to its unique design and it can easily slip inside shirt cuffs easily. This watch is equally at home in the sea as well as in a formal black-tie affair.
The buckle in my opinion needs a redesign. Compare the top photo and the one below; can you see the similarity in design concept? I can’t. To me, it appears that the designers in B&R after designing the casing, at the last moment just chose a buckle design that was available without taking the time to consider the design needs of the whole package. This is a disappointment.
The final comment is on the lume. What fantastic lume this watch possess. It provides excellent readability at night.
In conclusion, the BR-02 Pro Dial is one of the most seamlessly pleasing integration of elegance and utility seen on a dive watch. Its ability to slug it out in the most vicious of environment or just waltz its way in a tuxedo on a dance floor completely makes it a strong candidate for the most versatile watch. Despite its high price point and design weakness for the buckle, it compensates by the graceful design, tough construction and flawless workmanship.
Brand Name: Bell & Ross
Style Number: BR02-92-Carbon-Pro
Style (Gender): Mens
Case Material: Matte Black PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) ‘Carbon’ Stainless Steel
Case Shape: Tonneau
Dial Color: Black, Luminescent Numbers and markers
Movement: Automatic (Self-winding mechanical) Sellita SW200
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Central Seconds, Date, Decompression Valve
Crystal Material: Sapphire – Anti Reflective
Case Length: 43.0 mm
Case Length (Inc. Lugs): 48.5 mm
Case Width: 44.0 mm
Case Width (Inc. crown): 49.5 mm
Case Thickness: 17.0 mm
Caseback: Matte Black PVD Stainless Steel, Solid, Engraved, with large oversized B&R ampersand embossed into central part of case
Bezel Material: Matte Black PVD Stainless Steel, polished
Bezel Function: Fixed, flange rotates via crown at 2
Mass: 164.0 g
Water Resistance: 1000m / 3330ft (suitable for all watersports: swimming, snorkeling, skin diving, diving)
Crown Material: Matte Black PVD Stainless Steel, Fluted, Screw-in, Black Rubber
Crown Thickness: 5 mm
Crown Diameter: 7.6 mm
Calendar: Date at 4:30
Watch Bracelet / Strap Material: Rubber – Black silicon rubber with BR markings
Watch Clasp Material: Matte Black PVD Stainless Steel Tang Buckle
Strap Length (Inc. Case): 8.75 inches
Max Wrist Size: 8.0 inches
Min Wrist Size: 6.0 inches
Watch Bracelet Width: 28.0 – 34.0 mm
Bracelet Thickness: 3.6 – 7.0 mm