Bell & Ross has become the latest luxury watch brand to tackle the extremely challenging mission of creating a watch with a case made entirely from sapphire. But it didn’t stop there. The new Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire boasts a skeletonized movement equipped with both a flying tourbillon and a monopusher chronograph.
The transparent case of the Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire measures 45 mm in diameter and is cut from six blocks of sapphire, one each for the case middle, back, bezel, crystal, and bumpers. Sapphire (known in mineralogical circles as Corundum) is the second-hardest material on Earth — only diamond is harder — and almost entirely scratch-proof, and the process by which it is made into a finished watch case is extraordinarily difficult, involving many hours of machining and polishing. The openworked dial has applied metal hour indices and hands filled with Super-LumiNova.
Elements visible through the dial include the column wheel, which drives the chronograph, at 12 o’clock; the semi-instantaneous jumping hand (instead of a more traditional sweeping hand); and a hand-type indicator at 9 o’clock, which displays the state of the movement’s impressive 100-hour (four days) power reserve. The manually winding movement, Caliber BR-CAL.285, has a mainplate and pillars that have been machined from a single block of metal and painstakingly skeletonized to offer ideal views to such operations as the starting, stopping, and resetting of the chronograph and the rotations of the flying tourbillon.
The chronograph readouts are at 10 o’clock (30-minute counter) and 2 o’clock (60-second counter). Also visible at 2 o’clock is the monopusher rocker that controls the start, stop, and reset functions. The large flying tourbillon cage, enhanced by Bell & Ross’s ampersand logoform, occupies the spot at 6 ‘clock, and, thanks to the transparency of the case, can be viewed not only from the front but from the back and sides as well. From the back, you get a view of the power reserve differential and the mainspring barrel.
The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon completes the crystal-clear look with a bi-material strap made of translucent rubber with metallic kevlar weaving; it fastens to the wrist with a polished steel pin buckle. The watch is limited to just five pieces worldwide and priced at $500,000.