It’s not frontpage news anymore for most of us. Paris-based watchmaker Bell & Ross is collaborating with French F1 group Renault. This partnership, what started in 2016 (and that we’ve clarified here and here ), has resulted in a group of square-shaped watches – after all, this the shape that made the brand successful in the first spot. However, not we all need to sport such a strong watch on the wrist. This is the reason, to celebrate the reopening the French Grand Prix this year, Bell & Ross unveils the Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18 for Renault F1. And this time, it is a (not really) classic round watch.
With the special case of a watch made for the 40th Anniversary of Renault Sport , all the Renault-F1 branded watches by Bell & Ross were specialized and strong squared pieces – whether we talk about the R.S.16 assortment , the R.S.17 assortment of the recently introduced R.S.18 assortment. This partnership is part of the new strategy created by the brand, as clarified by its CEO Carlos Rosillo here , to target another crowd and to have a diversified offer inside the assortment. Three years and a handful of watches later, it is the ideal opportunity for Bell & Ross to offer something slightly different and less segmenting than the large square-shaped watches. And here we are, with the new, round Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18. Still F1-inspired however easier on the wrist.
The recipe is simple: Bell & Ross uses the very much designed and pleasantly proportioned revamped chronograph of the vintage assortment as a base and applies the same racy colors that are used on most other R.S. watches. However, this BR V2-94 R.S.18 provides more than just another color and adds several racing-oriented features that differentiate it from the other versions of this round chronograph – think BellyTanker , Racing-Bird or Steel Heritage .
For this new version, the brand uses the classic combination of dark and yellow – really, the colors that are found on the Renault F1 cars – to create contrast and improve instant neatness. On this BR V2-94 R.S.18, the dial differs drastically from the other versions: it is made of carbon fiber (the most fitting material for such a racing-inspired watch) with applied Arabic numerals – and not painted, military-styled indices. The latter, as well as the rings surrounding the sub-counters and the hands, are totally silvered-colored and provide great contrast against the dark carbon dial.
The minute track is painted in yellow and its length is connected to the tachymeter scale printed on the bezel’s insert – once more, to help instant reading of the elapsed times and determined average speeds. The seconds hand of the chronograph uses the same color while the 30-minute counter shows red accents to prevent possible confusion. This Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18 is unquestionably a vibrantly colored watch, yet it works pretty well in the metal and is in line with the racing inspiration.
The case is the same as used on other chronographs of the vintage assortment, which means a 41mm watch with satin-finished and polished parts, a ultra-domed sapphire crystal on top and screwed pushers – once more, something that we don’t really appreciate here, at MONOCHROME, despite the fact that it helps this watch to be water-resistant to 100 meters. Proportions and comfort on the wrist are acceptable and the watch feels more compact because of the dark aluminum insert set on top of the bezel. It is accessible on a dark carbon-printed leather strap with yellow coating – as far as we might be concerned, the best alternative – or a 3-connect stainless steel bracelet.
Under the sapphire case back is the ubiquitous caliber BR-CAL.301 (Bell & Ross’ name for the ETA 2894-2), a programmed modular chronograph with 2-register display and date. This development needs no introduction anymore and will provide reliable timekeeping. The sapphire case back bears a metallised portrayal of the Renault car and its serial number (not visible here, as the watch was still a prototype).
The Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 R.S.18 will be restricted to 999 pieces and priced at EUR 4,900 (leather strap) or EUR 5,200 (steel bracelet). Accessible now in the brand’s webshop and at retailers. More details on www.bellross.com .