The dizzyingly luxurious world of high-quality timepieces is one which often finds itself typified by a somewhat conservative approach to design. Without a doubt, the craftsmanship on display in the leading timepiece brands is truly exemplary, and the watches themselves are rarely anything less than unspeakably beautiful. However, the majority of luxury timepieces out there do stick by certain design principles, and rarely veer away from the expected.
How refreshing, then, to come across a luxury watch which not only displays incredible accuracy and craftsmanship, but also offers a unique approach to watch design, shape, and style. The Bell & Ross BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor is as unusual as it is sophisticated, as ground-breaking as it is beautiful, and balances excellence in classic horology with a striking look which takes quality watchmaking screaming into the 21st century and beyond. It’s a thrill to behold, and there’s little wonder why this model has become something of an instant modern classic, with watch collectors and admirers of quality timepieces alike clamouring to get their hands on one.
With all the excitement surrounding this particular watch (which will doubtlessly lead to a slew of copycat models), it absolutely warrants a bit of exploration. Let’s take a closer look at this breathtakingly unique design, and consider what led to the creation of Bell & Ross BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor - a 21st-century design which boasts a truly timeless level of excellence.
A Series Based on Zero Compromises
The BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor is a timepiece which comes from Bell & Ross’ unique X-Factor concept. This series was created to demonstrate new horizons in the luxury watch industry, and show off the studio’s ability to create glamorous watches which boast more complex movements, more complex construction, and which display no compromises when it comes to the technical brilliance of their designs.
The X-Factor Collection was launched with real fanfare back in 2014, with the BR-X1 Skeleton Chronograph as its flagship model - a timepiece which certainly didn’t hold back when it came to technical innovation and boldness in design, thanks to its skeletonised chronograph movement and unique modular case. This was in turn followed by an eye-wateringly expensive full sapphire version, which opened the door for new designs and innovations… including the stunning BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor we’re talking about today.
A Unique Construction
When looking at the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor, it’s difficult not to be bowled over by the sheer boldness of its design, and the number of supposed watchmaking rules being smashed in the process. Typically, watches of this caliber (indeed, watches in general) will feature movements enclosed in a case made up of three separate parts - the bezel, the caseback, and the central container. The BR-X2, however, takes an altogether different approach, and showcases its unique features from the very beginning. On the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor, the movement and the case are actually more or less a one-piece element, and onto this central container, two sapphire crystals have been screwed in place to act as both a bezel and a caseback. The steel case on the timepiece frames the movement rather than encloses it, offering a sleek and striking look, as well as a durable extra layer of outer protection.
As the central module of the watch is framed by two hefty sapphire crystals (which make up over half the thickness of the timepiece), there’s a high level of transparency throughout the design. The addition of four sizeable functional screws lend a decidedly modern and almost industrial look to the piece. The result is impressive: the design appears almost seamless, and even from afar it’s clear this is a watch quite unlike any other.
Those who come across the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor are often immediately struck by the size of this timepiece. There’s no getting away from it: this is a watch with some seriously impressive proportions. The actual dimensions of this Bell & Ross model are 42.5mm x 42.5mm, and while this isn’t necessarily much bigger than average in itself, square watches do tend to look larger on the wrist. This size and shape might be initially off-putting for those used to more sleek and dainty watches, but upon closer inspection, the extremely short lugs on the timepiece make it highly comfortable and very wearable indeed.
While the length, breadth and square shape of the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor make it a sizeable watch for today’s gentlemen, it’s the thickness which raises the most eyebrows and dramatically increases its wearability. This Bell & Ross timepiece boasts a thickness of 8.9mm - impressive work, considering the thinnest tourbillon watch in the world has a thickness of 7mm - achieved by severely slimming down the movement, removing the dial, and constructing the case in such an unusual way.
A Thoroughly Modern Face
When looking at the dial side of this watch, it’s clear just how far Bell & Ross are willing to go to break with convention and impress their fans and collectors. The face features the hours and minutes as expected, as well as a beautifully-made flying tourbillon at the ‘6’ point. The dial side overall is gorgeously finished; it’s bevelled, embellished, and polished most attractively, and full of surprising features, such as the ‘&’ symbol of the brand name integrated into the cage itself.
As the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor features no actual dial, the watch’s face is fascinatingly technical. You can see many of the details more commonly found in a watch caseback from the front of the timepiece, and plenty of features which are typically hidden (including the winding mechanism and the bridge) are, breathtakingly, in full view. It’s clear that Bell & Ross have gone for an industrial, stripped-back look for this particular timepiece, and many of the features of the caliber are deliberately a little on the rough side, and kept to a monochrome palette. It’s not a look we usually associate with haute-horlogerie… but it’s utterly stunning, nonetheless.
Into the Movement
As with every other aspect of the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor, the movement within this timepiece is unique, exclusive, and more than a little special. As you’ll find in all of the Bell & Ross tourbillon movements, that which is found within the BR-X2 has been developed with the help of MHC Manufacture Haute Complication, a Geneva-based movement producer. MHC Manufacture Haute Complication were challenged to create a square movement which made no compromises when it came to quality and accuracy, yet could comfortably fit into the design architecture of the watch. Needless to say, their work on the BR-X2 is exemplary and demonstrates what can be achieved through masterful craftsmanship when the limitations are removed.
Technically speaking, the mechanism within the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor is equally fascinating and has been manufactured with the modern, demanding gentleman in mind. It boasts a one-minute tourbillon, a micro-rotor made from tungsten alloy which provides automatic winding, and a 50-hour power reserve.
All in all, the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor is a truly remarkable piece of design. It steps away from the usual heritages associated with luxury watches, and features no aviation or sporting DNA in its concept whatsoever. Indeed, this square takes a great leap forward into the future, and shows that a watch can be a classic without needing to look backwards, and can borrow the high points of the past without being bound by the features of yesteryear.
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