For its new BR 03-92 MA-1 limited edition — unveiled at Baselworld 2019 and featured among the brand’s highlight pieces at last week’s CoutureTime event in Las Vegas — Bell & Ross looked beyond the cockpit instruments and took its design cues from an iconic piece of aviator apparel, the famous MA-1 flight jacket adopted by the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s. Here’s a closer look.
Bell & Ross describes the model, with its familiar square case and large, legible Arabic numerals, as its “purest” pilot watch, and thus the ideal stage upon which to pay tribute to the MA-1 “bomber,” whose parachute-derived nylon shell and reversible khaki green and orange design took it from utilitarian military gear in the ’50s to a stylish fashion statement in the ’70s. The 42-mm case is made of dark khaki-colored ceramic, a lightweight and scratch-resistant material. The dial, also khaki-colored, is in the “sandwich” style with two superimposed metal plates, the lower one coated with orange Super-LumiNova that shines through the stenciled, cut-out numerals and indices in the upper layer. The luminous substance also coats the hour and minute hands. Orange, of course, is a color long associated with the military and aviation, and the combo of khaki and orange is a direct reference to the MA-1 jacket.
The strap, made of calfskin leather and fastening to the wrist with a gunmetal-colored PVD steel pin buckle, continues the theme. Like the jacket, it is dark khaki on its top layer (even the stitching is in the same color, for a total camouflage effect) and orange on its lining, and reversible. For a pilot in distress, putting the orange layer on the outside served as a beacon for Search and Rescue teams; for the wearer of this watch, it essentially allows you to wear it with two totally distinctive looks.
The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 MA-1 is powered by the automatic BR-CAL.302, based on the tried-and-true Sellita SW.300-1, which offers a 28,800-vph frequency and a 38-hour power reserve. Priced at $3,900, it is set be available at retail in Summer 2019.