This year Bell & Ross returns to one of their most controversial timepieces. The bi-polarizing “Skull” dial watch, which tends to manifest either a love or hate reaction out of horology buffs. But, it’s enough of a crowd pleaser to justify a new iteration. Introducing the: “Bell & Ross Burning Skull”.

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Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

It all begin back in 2009 Bell & Ross released the “BR01 Skull”, the first of their watches to feature a skull on the dial. They followed it up with a second version called the ”Airborne”. In 2015, they issued two watches at once, with the same skull motif. The first of these was a one-off, the unique “Bell & Ross Skull Bronze Tourbillion” conceived for the “Only Watch”. A biennial charity auction of unique timepieces created and donated by the finest watchmakers, for research on: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.


Bell & Ross Skull Bronze Tourbillion for Only Watch * Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

The other watch was a “Bell & Ross BR01 Skull Bronze” very similar to the “Only Watch” edition, but missing the tourbillon complication. It was still a limited edition, but of 500 produced pieces, instead of being only one.  This bronze version of the “BR01” has the added uniqueness to developing patina. Since bronze is an alloy of copper (92%) and tin (8%), with time these materials tend to oxide and green and evolve to a blackish tone. After a while each one of these bronze timepieces will be particular to each owner.


Bell & Ross BR01 Skull Bronze * Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

Now in 2016 the skull is back again, in a limited edition version. We once again have the certainty of a “Bell & Ross”, with a steampunk, treasure trove look.

Video courtesy of: Bell & Ross

The 46mm wide square-shaped case on this BR01 is made of stainless steel with a micro-blasted finish, plus a tattoo-style laser engraving on the bezel and watch sides. These engravings are hand-filled with black lacquer for an optimal contrast and the case gets placed in an oven to make the ink filling permanent.


Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

The four crossbones align perfectly with the four exposed screws holding the case in place. Also, the crown and hands on the dial are not centered. Instead “Bell & Ross” has placed the movement in the upper half of the case, in order to align with the skull head.


Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

Time is exhibited in a rather unusual way. Instead of a circle, we follow the contour of a skull, which has grey-silver traces with small black gaps for minute index markers; and larger black gaps for the hour index markers. Pointing out current time are two hands in the form of daggers. A big sword for the hour hand, followed by a small dagger for the minute hand. This skull silhouette is covered by a sapphire crystal, with the “Bell & Ross” etched onto the glass from the outside. So, the brand casts its shadow over the skull dial.


Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

Bell & Ross BR01 Burning Skull

This “Bell & Ross BR01 Burning Skull” (Ref#: BR01-92) is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, caliber BR-CAL.302, with 25 jewels and 28,800 vph. Power reserve on this timepiece can last up to 38 hours and water-resistance can reach up to 100m (330 feet). Mounted to the watch is a brown alligator strap, but includes an extra ‘ultra-resistant’ black synthetic strap, both secured by a stainless-steel pin buckle. This watch is a limited edition of only 500 produced pieces.


Image courtesy of: Bell & Ross

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Written by Mauro Az