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How Bell & Ross revolutionised the dive watch for two decades and beyond

Bell & Ross is a name etched in the extremes. The French watchmakers have created a brand that caters to the horological needs of individuals that pursue adrenaline on land, earth, water, even space, professionally or as a passion.

While the brand’s most significant breakthrough during its early days was its creation of watches for pilots with the BR01, Bell & Ross generated worldwide buzz with its first dive watch, the Hydromax, created in 1997. Combining heavy-duty pressure resistance of 11,100-metres in a hulking 39.5-millimetre satin-finish stainless steel case, it’s a watch that has remained the world’s most formidable dive timepiece since its release two decades ago.

Since then, Bell & Ross has continuously pushed the brackets when it comes to their underwater tanks, remaining at the forefront of innovation since. In honour of the release of their latest BR03-92 timepiece in Diver Blue and Bronze, we take you through the history of Bell & Ross’ boundary-pushing advancements in the deep sea arena since 1997.

1997 — Hydromax

bell & ross dive watch collection
The Hydromax.

11,100-metres is the exact same depth as the deepest part of the world’s oceans, the Marianas Trench. To date, only four successful descents have been achieved, one of them by Avatar director James Cameron. If the man had a Hydromax on his wrist, he’d probably be able to tell the time even at the bone-breaking pressure levels of 1,086 bars — for perspective, this is a thousand times the pressure one experiences at sea level.

Sure, man may not made to be so far into the deep blue unaided, but the Hydromax was designed to. Bell & Ross created a silicone fluid known as Hydroil, using that patented formula to fill the case. Hydroil is what allows the quartz watch to function even under extreme duress.

Also revolutionary during its time was how the watch face is able to be read at extreme angles. In the age of dive computers and digital watches with wrist detection sensors, this is perhaps not the most startling to the average wearer, but serious enthusiasts know that for a watch that packs such heft, this level of legibility is still a thing of wonder.

2002 — Diver 300

bell & ross dive watch collection diver 300
The Diver 300.

Bell & Ross decided to peel back from catering to severe conditions with a chronograph dive watch that was both practical for daily life, and as an underwater tool. The Diver 300 throws back to the brand’s roots in making timepieces that mirror aeronautic instruments, in this case, the dials on a cockpit.

This 40mm piece has a pressure resistance of up to 300-metres, which is a standard for dive watches, but the true beauty of the Diver 300 is how it marks the brand’s debut into timepieces that are also compatible with life above water. Understated in its elegance, this is a workhorse of a watch.

2007 — BR02-94

bell and ross diver blue br03-92
The BR02-94 Carbon.

First glance at the BR02-94 and you’d probably think this falls under the category of a sporting watch, what with the rubber fittings and the neon accents on the face. It could very well be, though. This 44-metre mammoth can hold up even 1,000-metres below the surface, where white indices begin to glow a brilliant neon, making it easily readable even in pitch darkness.

To add to the watch’s utilitarianism, all the pushers and crowns on the watch come outfitted with rubber, which makes it easier to manoeuvre and turn, even if the watch is wet and you have gloves on. It’s the small details that make all the difference.

2018 — The BR03-92

bell and ross diver blue br03-92
The BR03-92 in Diver Blue.

Fast forward a decade, and the Bell & Ross dive watch series gets reinvented with a facade most identifiable with the watchmakers: the circle-in-a-square case that outlines the BR03 series. As the first square diving watch, the BR03-92 began its entry into the market in classic black. This July, it was released in two new colourways, Diver Blue and Diver Bronze, showcasing how Bell & Ross was decidedly moving towards dive watches that hit the right balance between function and aesthetic appeal.

bell & ross diver bronze
The BR03-92 in Diver Bronze.

Meeting ISO6425 standards, the BR03-92 can be submerged up to 300-metres and still run like a machine. Indices with a SuperLuminova coating is coupled with a yellow hour hand, which ensure you can see how much time has passed since you’ve been underwater.

Once you surface, you’re able to take this enticing piece of wrist candy to anything from a board meeting to an evening out, and compliments are guaranteed. Find out more about the BR03-92 here.

How Bell & Ross revolutionised the dive watch for two decades and beyond

Beatrice Bowers

Features Editor

Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.

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