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.
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.
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.
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.
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).