Bell & Ross unveiled a new version of its aviation-themed BR-X1 chronograph at the recent Couture watch and jewelry exhibition in Las Vegas. Conceived as a mechanical chronograph for astronauts, the new Bell & Ross BR-X1 Hyperstellar has been engineered to withstand the rigors of outer space missions.
A professional wristwatch suited for space exploration, the company points out, must adhere to a number of specifications, including resistance to extreme temperatures, corrosion, impacts, acceleration, pressure and vibrations. Hence Bell & Ross’s decision to use a combination of grade 5 titanium and blue anodized aluminum for the square, 45-mm case. Both tough-yet-lightweight materials are used widely in the aerospace industry; aluminum is prized for its ability to generate an impermeable, corrosion-resistant oxide layer and titanium for both its corrosion-resistant properties and biocompatibility. The combination of colors also are symbolic of space exploration: blue for the Earth, gray for the moon. The case cover, middle, and center are made of the micro-blasted and polished titanium, while the aluminum is used for the protective bezel insert. Adding to the case’s near-impermeability is a bumper made of titanium and rubber that acts as a protective shell.
Other steps were taken to make the BR-X1 Hyperstellar fully functional in outer space, including ergonomic rubber-grip chronograph push-buttons that can be handled easily even by hands wearing thick gloves, and a dial design that emphasizes easily readability in all conditions. The openworked hour and minute hands have a photoluminescent coating.
The skeletonized, automatic movement beneath the grey-tinted sapphire dial, which Bell & Ross calls BR-CAL.313, has an “X”-shaped upper bridge treated with black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) and a chronograph function with a central 60-second counter and a subdial at 9 o’clock that uses an aluminum disk reminiscent of turbine blades, rather than a conventional hand, to tally up 30 elapsed chronograph minutes. A tachymeter scale appears on the bright blue flange. Small seconds are on another less conspicuous subdial at 3 o’clock, and the date is displayed in an aperture at 6 o’clock.
The satin-finished titanium caseback is secured by functional non-indexed screws, aiding in the case’s water-resistance of 100 meters. Instead of a full exhibition caseback, the watch has a small “planetary observation porthole” in the upper half, providing a glimpse of the movement’s balance as it oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vph.
The dual-material theme continues on the strap of the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Hyperstellar, which combines an outer layer of gray alligator leather with an inner layer of rubber and fastens by means of a steel pin buckle with a gray rubber insert. The watch is a limited edition of 250 pieces and is priced at $19,900. Below you’ll find some live photos of the BR-X1 Hyperstellar taken during its debut at Couture.