Mechanical watches can be beguiling and bewildering all at once, as the Bell & Ross BR 03-Cyber-CE demonstrates. While you might identify the design-forward watchmaker with the circles-within-squares aesthetic, it is really so much more ambitious. By the way, even here in the Cyber-CE limited edition (a celebration of angularity if we ever saw one), there are plenty of circles interacting with squares; curves and straight lines too. On the face of it, the Cyber-CE is a simple automatic time-only watch that modestly eschews any indication of seconds. Yet, this is no humble dress watch and its complexity is evident in its shape – that goes for both the matt ceramic case and the manufacture movement.
At first glance, the enthusiast will recognise the BR 03-Cyber-CE, given that it is an evolution of the special piece proposed by the brand for the abortive OnlyWatch auction last year. Both the case and the movement, calibre BR-Cal.383, appear to be descendants of the colourful B03 Cyber Rainbow. For the Cyber-CE though, Bell & Ross has made a 180-degree turn and gone for a stealthy appeal. Perhaps surprisingly, the approach has yielded a watch that draws the eye in with its faceted case in a way that the brightly hued piece unique ever quite manages to (we have seen the Cyber Rainbow in person but not the Cyber-CE – Ed).
In its press information for the Cyber-CE, Bell & Ross never mentions the word ‘skull’ anywhere yet the impression is clearly present. Just look at the watch and consider Bruno Belamich’s description of it as “a nod to the digital arts. When a digital image freezes, it reveals the pixels of which it is made;” Belamich is co-founder and lead designer of Bell & Ross. Thus, we suggest that the digital image here conveys the sense of the Jolly Roger or memento mori, itself an important motif for Bell & Ross (the brand was amongst the first to popularise skull-motif watches in fine watchmaking).
To close on the movement, it is certainly skeletonised to within an inch of its life, although certainly via the wizardry of contemporary industrial production. In the case of the relatively new BR-Cal.383, this is perfectly acceptable (considering its appeal to digital sensibilities anyway). Bell & Ross has not released many details on the movement since it debuted in the Cyber Rainbow; the brand did not even note that the Cyber-CE and the Cyber-Rainbow share the same engine. This is unfortunate because the movement is rated highly enough to allow for a five-year warranty, although the power reserve of 48 hours is a little below the standard offered by many manufacture movements.
The propositions of the Cyber-CE reflect the classic BR 03 at 42 x 43.7 mm, but there is an adaptation here as far as the lugs are concerned. Belamich asserts that the rubber strap is effectively connected directly to the case, without traditional lugs at all; this is once again exactly like the Cyber-Rainbow. The watch is a limited edition of 500 pieces.
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