The Vintage BR V1-92 Military which is part of the 3rd generation of the Vintage Collection.

When looking at the new Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 Military, I am often reminded that  though Edwin Starr often opined sang that “war is good for absolutely nothing”, I am forced to consider the historical irony that much of the technology we depend on today began either as accidents or repurposed military technology for civilian use. While deeply destructive, wars eventually provide economic, technological and even social development. As evidenced by the 1916 issue of The New York Times, editorial on July 9th published an op-ed on the “changed status of the wristwatch” and that the necessity of modern warfare had demonstrated the need for officers and soldiers to denote time in an efficient manner and that the only practical way for a vintage military watch to be used was to be worn on the wrist where time could be readily and easily ascertained, an impossibility with the old pocket style watch.

Thus, when Bell & Ross introduced the WW1-92 Military 45mm, I particularly enjoyed the cultural nod from that pivotal era in human history when the move of the watch from pockets to wrists came about through sheer necessity and invention when military men took pocket watches and soldered wire loop lugs to the cases, and then threaded canvas straps through them before fastening them unto wrists. The follow up with the Vintage BR V1-92 Military is a step in a more modernist direction for urban warriors, smaller in diameter, an eminently more wearable case and evolved design made for a winning combination in one small, uniquely versatile, reasonably priced watch.

The Vintage BR V1-92 Military follows the horological evolutionary path of the the Second World War, adopting the B-Uhr (short for Beobachtungsuhr, or Observer) aesthetic for the watch dial. Image: Jonathan Ho

Where the Bell & Ross Vintage WW1 (Wrist Watch 1) pays tribute to the first wristwatches worn by pilots in the 1920s with its historical large fob watch type diameter and wire lugs, the Vintage BR V1-92 Military follows the horological evolutionary path of the the Second World War, adopting the B-Uhr (short for Beobachtungsuhr, or Observer) aesthetic for the watch dial, similar in countenance to another iconic military watch style formerly supplied to German Luftwaffe during World War II but lacking the dimensions of your typical pilot’s watch.

At its heart, the Vintage BR V1-92 is a back to basics watch. Its strength lies in the simple utilitarian functionality of the watch, stripped of all obvious bells and whistles, the legibility and undeniable practicality of the new Bell & Ross BR V1-92 is where the maison has found keen footing in not just historic inspiration but in heritage re-interpretation.

 

 

The marker at 12 of the Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 Military follows typical military aviation specs, that is to say, a triangle flanked by dot markers. Image: Jonathan Ho

Executed in a 38.5mm stainless steel case, Bell & Ross has evoked the spartan ideals of strict military codes in a satin-brush finished timepiece and yet by virtue of its size, a highly versatile watch for work and play. The new Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 Military marks a departure from that age of “pocket watch conversion” which meant large cases but instead, embraces re-interpretation with more restrained proportions and a minimalist approach.

While the marker at 12 follows typical military aviation specs, that is to say, a triangle flanked by dot markers, its modernist design is countered by its period authentic World War II dial with 5-minute markings, a throwback to the necessity of second to second calculations for projectile trajectory, ranging or to calculate their direction or speed. While and Bell & Ross could have opted for an expected canvas or NATO strap, they pair the new “Military” of the Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 with lightly aged brown leather – it’s vintage but not necessarily faux antique.

The encircled “MT” insignia sells the appeal of a true Military Time – piece. Image: Jonathan Ho

The antiquity is reinforced with patinated baton indexes contrasted with white minute rail and numerals, thoroughly selling the military DNA of the Vintage BR V1-92, with the tritium-esque luminous paint, partnered with the period-authentic red ‘MT’ inscription at 6 which military aficionados will recognise as a symbol for “military time”.

Equipped with a Sellita based SW-200 automatic calibre, the Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 Military is reliable and more importantly, affordable. That said the date window which occupies the space between 20 and 25 serves as a little niggling reminder of what might otherwise be one of the most well designed vintage-military inspired watches to date.

The domed crystal evokes vintage appeal of old school hesalite but with the robustness of modern sapphire. Image: Jonathan Ho

Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 Military Price and Spec

Case 38.5mm satin stainless steel with100m water resistant
Movement Automatic calibre BR-CAL.302 with 38 hour power reserve
Strap Brown leather strap with steel pin buckle
Price SGD 3200
Availability Bell & Ross boutique, 01-15 mandarin gallery

 

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