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Bleached Bones: Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull White


We’re still recycling wrapping paper from the holiday season and sweeping up confetti from New Year’s celebrations, but Bell & Ross has released a watch that already has us in mind of Halloween, namely the latest edition of its clever, quirky automaton model, the BR 01 Laughing Skull, which has as its central attraction a photorealistic white, “bone-effect” skull.

Bell & Ross BR01 Laughing_Skull White - front
Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull White (Ref. BR01-SKULL-O-SK-ST)

Like its predecessor from 2018, whose dial-side cranium rendering was more metallic in its surface treatment, the 46-mm square case of the BR 01 Laughing Skull White is made of micro-blasted steel with surface areas enhanced with an engraved clous de Paris guilloché design. The sculpted metal skull, unlike similar ones employed in several non-automaton models it has released since 2009, is not stationary behind the luminous-treated hour and minute hands but actually movable; in the grand horological tradition of mechanical jaquemarts, its mandible moves up and down as the wearer winds the mechanical movement, giving the illusion that is laughing.

Bell & Ross BR01 Laughing_Skull White - dial CU
The automaton skull dial “laughs” as the watch is being wound.

The proprietary BR-CAL.206, which Bell & Ross developed with the high-complication movement specialists at Concepto, is also notable in that it is actually skull-shaped. In an extension of the skull-and-crossbones motif, the movement’s four bridges anchor the mainplate to the case and come together to form a single assembly that floats in the center of the watch. The manually wound caliber’s balance oscillates in plain view at 12 o’clock (appropriately, where the skull’s brain would be), working from a 50-hour power reserve stored in its barrel, which is visible, along with the rest of the movement’s rear-side elements, through a clear sapphire caseback.

Bell & Ross BR01 Laughing Skull Caliber 206
Bell & Ross introduced the proprietary BR-CAL.206 in the first Laughing Skull editions in 2018.

Continuing the bone-white color theme is an integrated strap made of ivory-colored alligator leather, which fastens the watch to the wrist with a pin buckle made from micro-blasted steel.  The BR 01 Laughing Skull White (Ref. BR01-SKULL-0-SK-ST) is a limited edition of 99 pieces, priced at $9,900.

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