One of the new models that gained our admiration at Baselworld 2019 was the BR V2-94 Bellytanker Chronograph Bronze that we had the opportunity to photoshoot at the brand’s beautiful booth.
Bell & Ross is famous for its square-case models, inspired by the gauges in the aircraft cockpits. The brand was so successful with this interesting concept that it was able to create its own fan base. With the addition of new case sizes, modern materials and even diamond-set women's models, the collection has grown and had a strong place among the iconic model families of the luxury watchmaking world today.
The model I chose for the review is under the Vintage Collection, which includes the more normal and, of course, retro-inspired models of the brand’s product line. Before proceeding to the review, let’s take a look at that interesting name, Bellytanker, and its meaning. Bellytanker is initially used for the extra fuel tanks that has been mounted on the World War II era aircrafts. Those fuel tanks have been attached to the bellies of the aircraft thus opting the name. The same tanks (with the same name) has found another use. Adrenaline junkies, who have been keen to break speed records in the vast salt flats, have converted these tanks in to one-man ground rockets. We always say Heritage is nothing without a story… Well, here you have one.
Bellytanker was introduced to the brand’s product line in recent years with a couple of timepieces. Those models (a chronograph and a three-hander automatic) that were offered in stainless steel cases were equipped with interesting sand beige color dials. The new model that I have here shares the same platform with the previous chronograph version, but with both technical and aesthetic differences.
Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Bellytanker Chronograph Bronze comes in a 41mm diameter case. For the case, Bell & Ross went with bronze alloy, which became an interestingly popular material for in the past few years. However, Bell & Ross’s bronze interpretation is a bit different. If you are hoping to find a watch that looks like it has been taken out of Titanic’s wreck as you do with Panerai’s Bronzo by keeping it in an air-sealed bag for three days with slices of boiled egg, well, you are in the wrong place. I don't know exactly what the chemical composition of the material is, but considering that the bronze is a copper and tin based alloy, it could be extra nickel addition. Perhaps a coating has been applied to prevent the material's contact with air. Whatever the method is, the result you get is the same; you have a watch that looks like gold and this look will remain the same for a very long time.
The case is equipped with sapphire crystals (domed at the front) in both sides. The sapphire display case back features a Bellytanker figure as well as Limited Edition indication. The bezel, which is located on the front of the case and on the outside of the glass, brings the retro character of the model to the forefront with its place and design. By the way, the bezel insert is printed aluminum. Therefore, the risk for wear upon use is not as low as ceramic versions. The chronograph pushers are also screwed-in like the winding crown making the case water resistant to 100 meters.
The dial of the new model is highly successful in terms of both the lay out and the colors scheme. The sub-dials regarding the Bi-Compax chronograph function are finished in gold tone. Same color tone is used for the applique indices and baton hands, which create a nice contrast with the black background. 100 M indication written in red fonts gives the watch a sporty look while the contrasting outer minute scale provides better legibility. I would like the highlight the date display at 4:30 for having a blending black background disk featuring matching gold tone fonts. You know this is an extremely difficult thing to do as even Patek Philippe still offers Xerox paper white background date discs with typewriter black fonts in their Nautilus model family.
The new model is powered by the BR-CAL.301. Based on the workhorse ETA 2894-2, 37 jewels self-winding movement beats at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800vph) and offers 42 hours of power when fully wound.
Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Bellytanker Chronograph Bronze comes with a black calf leather strap that is secured by a B&R signed folding clasp made of bronze alloy. Available in second quarter of 2019 with a MSRP of 4,900 EUR, the new model is limited to a span of 999 units only.