Culture > Time

Bell & Ross launches collection of Alpine F1 watches

Mixing the watchmaker’s aviation theme with the racing outfit’s colors

Bell & Ross's F1 collaboration began in 2016 with the Renault team. PHOTO FROM BELL & ROSS

Watch companies often sponsor Formula 1 teams as the latter’s timing partners, as in the cases of IWC and Mercedes-AMG, Richard Mille and Ferrari, TAG Heuer and Red Bull, and Casio and AlphaTauri. For fans of both F1 and horology, these often result in limited-edition timepieces. These range from team logos simply being stamped somewhere on the watch, to exquisite one-off timepieces often seen on the wrists of drivers.

One of these firms is Bell & Ross, which has collaborated with the Renault F1 team since 2016. With the French outfit now called Alpine, the watchmaker once again comes up with a branded collection featuring the squad’s colors. The three chronographs in this group all bear the reference number A521, which is the name of Alpine’s current F1 machine.

You can have your BR V3-94 A521 with a leather strap or a steel bracelet. PHOTOS FROM BELL & ROSS

The BR V3-94 A521 looks more traditional compared to the brand’s other offerings, with a 43mm steel case, two-stage pushers, and a protected screw-down crown. You have a choice of either a steel oyster bracelet or a carbon-fiber-patterned black-and-blue leather strap.

The dial sports the black-and-blue colors of the Alpine team. Sporty Arabic numerals adorn the dial and the bidirectional bezel, with two “open-heart” subdials, a date window after four o’clock, and a blue second hand with the Alpine logo. The BR-CAL.301 movement ticking inside this watch has a respectable power reserve of 42 hours, and can be peeked at from the front or viewed in its full glory from the rear sapphire display caseback.

The BR 03-94 A521 has the watchmaker's signature square casing. PHOTOS FROM BELL & ROSS

If you prefer something a little more eccentric and in line with Bell & Ross’s traditional designs, the BR 03-94 A521 has the brand’s square casing with exposed screws that reminds one of a gauge in an aircraft’s cockpit. Here, the 42mm steel case has a satin finish on the flat surfaces with polished edges, and the black toggle-style pushers surround the screw-down crown.

The dial and the movement of the watch are almost entirely similar to the V3-94 A521, save for the location of the date window, which can be seen at the six o’clock position. Lastly, the perforated strap is made from a combination of rubber and synthetic fabric.

Only 50 pieces of the BR-X1 A521 will be made. PHOTO FROM BELL & ROSS

Topping the collection is the BR-X1 A521. As part of Bell & Ross’s “Experimental” lineup, this watch has many features you’d see on higher-end timepieces. The 45mm square case is constructed out of titanium and ceramic with rubber accents. It has rocker-style chronograph pushers, and the bidirectional bezel has another bezel ring with a time marker.

The dial of this watch is similar to the BR 03-94 A521 down to the subdials and Alpine-brand second hand, but completely skeletonized. It also has a blue tachymeter scale instead of the silver insert found on the other two. It features the uprated BR-CAL.313, a movement with a 42-hour power reserve.

See if you can spot Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon wearing these watches at the next race. PHOTOS FROM BELL & ROSS

All three of these watches are up for preorder, with deliveries scheduled this month. The BR V3-94 A521 is limited to 500 pieces, and will run you $4,400 (P217,000) with the leather strap, or $4,700 (P231,000) with the steel bracelet. The BR 03-94 A521 comes in at $6,400 (P315,000), and is also limited to 500 pieces. The BR-X1 A521 is limited to just 50 pieces, and will set you back a cool $21,500 (P1.06 million).

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.