For the pilots’ watch review in our March-April issue, on sale now, writer Martina Richter selected two three-hand pilots’ watches and seven pilots’ chronographs to accompany a trio of pilots – aerobatics champion Klaus Lenhart and his protégés Axel Schütte and Andreas Langer − while they performed an aerobatic program, specially designed for our review, in the skies above the Swabian Mountains in southern Germany. One of the watches chosen was the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Chronograph Steel.
Lenhart, who is the owner and CEO of the German Leki ski-pole company, flew a sporty, single-seat Leki Extra 330 SC; Schütte, an Extra 300 L; and Langer, a Giles 202. The program consisted of 14 aerobatic figures, lasting a total of about five minutes. Including takeoff and landing, the watches were subjected to stress for about 20 minutes. They encountered g-forces ranging from +7 to –4. By comparison, a passenger aircraft banking for a turn exerts about 2 gs; a rollercoaster ride 4 to 6 gs.
We measured each watch’s rate behavior on a timing machine before and after the aerobatic flight. The pilot’s appraisal of each timepiece was also included in the overall verdict. In particular, the pilot judged each watch’s legibility under various lighting conditions during the flight, as well as passing judgment on its wearing comfort, user friendliness and reliability.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Chronograph Steel reminded Schütte of a cockpit instrument. With its large hour and minutes hands, this chronograph looks like the coarse/fine altimeter in his plane, Schütte said. This resemblance is enhanced by the 42-mm-square stainless-steel case with four screws at the corners to keep it securely closed.