Wrapping Up the Bell & Ross Vintage Officer’s Chronograph Watch

By James Henderson

Well, anyone with a calendar (or a date function on their watch) will know that I’ve gone beyond the 7 days previously agreed to. Luckily the nice folks at Bell & Ross are the forgiving and understanding sort.

Spoiler alert – this has been a fantastic watch!

But an important thing to understand is that a lot of my appreciation for this watch comes from things that can’t necessarily be quantified.  But in deference to those of you who keep track of these things like your favorite baseball player’s batting average, let’s get the “vital statistics” out of the way, so courtesy of Bell & Ross –

Mechanical automatic movement.
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds. Date. 
Two-counter chronograph (with 60-second and 30-minute accumulators).

Polished steel case. 41 mm diameter. 
Screw-in sapphire case-back with anti-glare coating.
Silver dial. Hands covered in a photo-luminescent coating. 
Polished metal appliqué numerals and index.
Ultra-domed sapphire glass with anti-glare coating.

Water-resistance: 100m.

Grey alligator strap or steel bracelet.
Polished steel folding buckle.

So a few points of clarification – the self-winding movement is an ETA 2894 (i.e. 2892 base with a chronograph module if my research is correct).

Courtesy of Bell & Ross

Another point is that the watch I was sent for review did not come with a folding pin buckle but with a beautiful (and very functional) deployment clasp.

But let’s get back to the watch itself.  I think we all go through phases in our watch appreciation.  By nature, we watch fans are not static.  We are constantly looking for that something different, something special.  Now many might look at the Officer’s Chronograph and not bat an eyelash.  They might be more drawn to some of B&R’s “edgier” offerings.  And that’s fair enough, that is what makes the watch world go round.  But for me, this is the pick of the bunch.

This is a bit of a hybrid – a “sporty dress watch”.  Contradiction?  For me, no!

A chronograph, by its very nature is going to be somewhat sporty.  It is, after all, a watch with a function for timing precise intervals.  Now for someone like me, the precise intervals include things like:  

1.  Is my lunch hour over
2.  How long does it really take to cycle to work?
3.  Did they REALLY add 2 minutes of extra time?

Most of us (at least most of the males of the species) dwell in a semi-fantasy world. A place where we feel at almost any minute we may be called into action to engage in some “daring-do”.  But many of us are never in those situations.  We live in a world where we are racing to make a plane departure, get to our kid’s soccer game on time, need to make sure that we don’t burn dinner.  And as mundane and “un-sexy” as those things may sound, these are the tasks that the “modern-day” super hero faces.  And the Vintage Officer’s Chronograph is the perfect piece of “special equipment” to face these challenges.

A silver dial with applied numbers and indices are a perfect match to the hands.  And unlike so many watches where the date window is more of an after-thought, the folks at Bell & Ross put a thoughtful, logical date window between 4 and 5 o’clock.

The embossed crown functioned perfectly, smooth winding and very tactile.  The pusher buttons well positioned and responsive to the touch.

The watch is finished off with a grey alligator strap.  Now to be honest with you, I was not entirely sold on the idea of a grey strap, but it grew on me.

So in real life terms, how did the Vintage Officer’s Chronograph stack up?  The timing was very good, I did have a mild deviation on the slow side (about 15 seconds) on average – but in fairness I worked the chronograph function pretty steadily.  The chronograph functioned perfectly.  Although on the somewhat larger size for a dressier watch at 41 mm, the watch wore well, not too big.  The strap, although new, nice and comfortable. 

So in fairness, if you are in your early 20s, this is probably not the watch for you.  You still need to go through your “big tool watch” phase.  But, when you’re ready for a grown up watch, I think this one might fit the bill.  For more info, please visit bellross.com

James Henderson
James Henderson – Contributing Editor

Known to many in the industry as their “nagging conscience”, James Henderson writes the Tempus Fugit BlogPrior to writing about watches he worked for DOXA Watches for three years and currently works with several brands on marketing and communication projects. Having taught English in Japan, Portugal, Finland and Scotland, James now calls Santa Barbara, California home. Read his articles here.