Bell & Ross is among the watchmakers that have succumbed to the trend of creating watches in completely transparent housings made of sapphire. The brand opted for a case in a recognizable square shape which is almost immediately associated with the watchmaker. Inside it, there is complex and in-house made Caliber 285. It is a hand-wound mono-pusher chronograph movement with a flying tourbillion. Additionally, it is skeletonized to allow a better view on its functional components. Since the watch has a high-end movement and even more since it has a special transparent housing, Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire is made in the limited edition of just five copies. Its price is expectedly high and set at around $500,000.
Recently, we have seen a few watches that were made with completely transparent cases made of sapphire. The material in question is a transparent mineral which is scientifically called Corundum and it is widely used in the creation of crystals for high-end watches. The trait that made it the material of choice that guards the dials of upper-class timekeepers is its exceptional resilience. It is the second hardest material on the planet, right behind diamond. On the other hand, this characteristic also makes it extremely difficult to work with. In order to make a housing comprised of sapphire is extremely time-consuming and strenuous due to the complex process of machining and polishing. It also requires special tools. Obviously, the demanding procedure which is needed to create the see-through body raises the price of the piece, but it also serves a valuable purpose since it offers an unparalleled view on the functioning of the watch and its mechanical movement.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire has its crystal clear body actually made of nine segments in sapphire. These are top, back, middle part, crystal and four bumpers and they are all assembled with screws. The watch features a recognizable shape that is seen throughout the brand’s collection where the square housing is combined with a circular dial. In this instance, the case is 45 mm wide (and long). The polished housing is waterproof to 30 meters.
A Flying Tourbillon and a Monopussoir Column-Wheel Chronograph Additionally Exposed by Skeletonization of Components
Inside the translucent case of immense hardness, there is an equally impressive beating heart of the piece, BR-Cal. 285. It is a hand-wound mechanical movement which is equipped with a column-wheel chronograph operated with a single pusher set inside the crown. The column-wheel of the chronograph can be seen on the top of the dial, just like the entire mechanism of the stop-watch feature. This was made possible by skeletonizing main-plate and bridges of the movement. The trimming of the components is the reason why the movement is actually different than other ones that were used in previous tourbillion models of Bell & Ross. It is actually a “trimmed” version of BR-Cal 283.
Speaking of tourbillion, the one that is featured in this model dominates the lower part of the watch’s dial where it appears to be suspended in the air. It is a flying 60-seconds tourbillion and it features the ampersand motif on its carriage that can be seen on the brand’s logo.
The monopussoir chronograph with a flying tourbillion that drives the watch includes 35 jewels in its construction and it operates at the frequency of 21,600 vph. It also has quite the extensive power reserve that lasts for four entire days, even though the caliber possesses only a single barrel. When it comes to its supported functions, the watch has central hour and minute hands, two stop-watch counters and a power reserve display. Unfortunately, there is no central chronograph seconds hand, so the sub-dial (and its assorted pointer) at the one o’clock place performs this function, while the smaller counter on the left top side keeps track of the elapsed time up to 30-minutes. The only other remaining indication, its power reserve display, sits at the nine o’clock position.
Naturally, the high-end movement is likewise made with the expected haute horlogerie finishing. One can notice satin-finished sections, as well as polished beveling all over the skeletonized movement, including the tourbillion carriage.
Since Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire is made with a completely translucent clothing, it comes as no surprise that is does not have a dial in the traditional sense and that its face is also see-through. Its sapphire base is encircled with a metalized flange with circular finishing and with rhodium-plated appliqués. The chrono counters are made in the same manner. For improved legibility, the applied indices on the flange are, just like the faceted and skeletonized hands, treated with white SuperLuminova. The power reserve scale of the watch is somewhat different from the other supported indications, since it includes white painted markings, as well as polished and blasted finishes.
Furthermore, the watch with the reference number BRX1-CHTB-SAPHIR includes an interesting translucent attachment made from the combination of rubber and Kevlar. The peculiar strap with a woven appearance locks with a polished stainless steel pin-buckle. Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire is limited to just five pieces worldwide and its exact price is $495,000. If you want to read more about exclusive watches with transparent bodies made of sapphire, check out our articles about Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire and Richard Mille RM 56-02 Sapphire Tourbillon.