A decade ago, a simple idea gave rise to the BR 01.
Bell & Ross' plan was to turn an aircraft cockpit into the best aviation watch: reliable, functional and easy to read. Since then, Bell & Ross has developed more than 150 models and 50 limited editions of this square watch which has become a platform for creative watchmaking.
To celebrate 10 years of this model, the French-Swiss luxury watch brand is releasing an anniversary BR 01 in a limited edition of 500 pieces.
“It’s nice that today, BR 01 is regarded as an icon. Initially, when we introduced it, people were like ‘What is this square watch?’ Now they can tell it is definitely a Bell & Ross,” says Carlos Rosillo in a recent interview at Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur.
The Bell & Ross co-founder and CEO – understandably chuffed with BR 01’s success – was in KL to attend a glamorous gala dinner to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
“The BR 01 was born of a simple yet groundbreaking idea: to turn an aircraft cockpit clock into a wristwatch,” recalls Rosillo. To ensure it is practical and easy to read, the numerals, hands and square case used the same principles as aeronautical instruments.
The design of BR 01 10th Anniversary timepiece is faithful to the original BR 01, but has been created with today’s most advanced techniques and materials. Resembling the nose of a spacecraft, it comprises a steelbox section housed in a ceramic case, which is designed like a streamlined fuselage. Meanwhile, the steel caseback sports a satin-finished micro blasted finish and is engraved with the logo “10th Anniversary”.
Last year, Bell & Ross revolutionised the design of BR 01 by launching BR-X1, an extreme version of the iconic watch with a high-tech sporty chronograph.
“It is the future of Bell & Ross, targeted at those who appreciate complications,” enthuses Rosillo. The BR-X1 case, made from grade 5 titanium, really sets it apart, protecting it from any potential impacts thanks to the rubber and ceramic belt which acts as a defensive shield.
The BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon is only available in a limited edition of 20 pieces. “I cannot disclose how many of the 20 have been sold, but I can tell you it has been received overwhelming response from people who appreciate technical details,” says Rosillo, who was sporting a prototype of the BR-X1 during our interview.
Since its creation in 1992, Bell & Ross has enjoyed success all over the world.
“We are in 70 countries and we’re doing well in Asia, especially in Malaysia,” says Rosillo.
He attributes the brand’s success here to the brand’s partnership with its Malaysian distributor Fj Benjamin.
“It boils down to a good product, good image and good distribution. FJ Benjamin understands our image, and markets it correctly. That’s why it’s so accepted here.”
Rosillo is also pleased that Bell & Ross appeals to both men and women. “Today, women enjoy big watches, and they appreciate an instrument of power.”
He adds that the brand clientele varies from the young to matured. “These are people who enjoy good creations. As a brand, we are not celebrity-driven. We are for real, authentic people.”
Asked about his 2016 resolutions, Rosillo answers, “I want our company to continue being innovative and consistent with our creations.”
Away from work, Rosillo enjoys food, wine, cigars, music and reading about architecture. He is also passionate about cooking (“Spanish food is one of my specialties”).
He is unfazed about Bell & Ross’ signature designs being copied. “For me, (imitation) is not a problem. Those who copy us don’t work after a while. Ours still do.”