9th June 2014
Inspired by aeronautical design, watchmaker Bell & Ross has once again commissioned Shaw Harley-Davidson to design a concept bike with a sleek and powerful look evoking the extreme modernity of the 1960s and the very first American jet aircraft. More than a motorcycle, a legend. More than a legendary engine, a dream airplane-motorcycle.
A passion for pioneering aeronautics, a quest for aerodynamic lines, a fascination with cockpit instrumentation… Since its creation, Bell & Ross has constantly strived to perfect the look of tools dedicated to aviation and featuring amazing functional mechanics. In 2011, the watchmaker successfully switched from the air to the ground by designing an exclusive motorcycle in collaboration with the British team at Shaw Harley Davidson Speed & Custom – the Nascafe Racer. At the time, this prestigious looking motorcycle travelled the world winning a series of prizes in London, Dublin and Sturgis, before being named the planet’s ‘most famous custom motorcycle’. In 2014, leading aeronautical watchmaker Bell & Ross went even further, presenting a totally exclusive motorcycle, again constructed with the engineers at Shaw Harley Davidson, who share the brand’s values of innovation, performance and precision. A unique motorcycle, inspired by the iconic world of the first jet planes secretly designed in the United States in the 1960s and evoking this heyday in aeronautics when anything seemed possible.
The B-Rocket is a concept bike with a neo-retro look with lines encapsulating the essential principles of aeronautical design. An airplane-motorcycle with a unique style whose extremely aerodynamic lines evoke the experimental aviation of the 1960s, Nevada’s speed bikes and the records they set on the salt lake at Bonneville, the genius of Utah’s pioneering engineers in white coats, as well as the bravery of the test riders.
The B-Rocket is all that and much more: an airplane-motorcycle, which cuts through the air with its striking conical jet nose, its cabin, its fin and its propulsion turbines. This exceptional motorcycle – a unique model epitomizing the union between performance and precision, design and power – could have been ridden by a classic super-hero, a NASA test pilot or a young gun thirsty for glory. Above all, it represnts a watchmaking firm that believes in the authenticity of its designs and functions and most importantly aims to perfect the modernity of the past.
In the wake of the B-Rocket, Bell & Ross is launching two watches, which perform complementary functions and are complementary in size. A direct offshoot of the B-Rocket, the BR01 B-Rocket is the ultimate watch for drivers. Just like the high-speed motorcycle it is designed to go with, this instrument is impressive; its case measures 46 mm in diameter. However, it is above all the quality of the chronograph that sets the BR 01 apart. The ultimate in terms of timing your speed, it has a large minutes counter, with a tachymetric scale on the outer edge of the dial, which as a matter of priority measures short periods of time and so allows your performance to instantly be displayed. It also has three additional counters, which provide further information: a 60-second, 30-minute and 12-hour counter. From a functional point of view, the chronograph is automatically triggered by the highway push-piece. And in a flash, the small seconds counter, at three o’clock, replicates the graphic display used in experimental vehicle testing.
More than a legendary engine, a dream airplane-motorcycle.
In the more elaborate BR 03 B-Rocket version of the watch, the 42mm satin-brushed steel case is fitted with two complications. The hours, minutes and seconds display also features a large date window and a power-reserve indicator. As regards the sub-dial, there are cut-outs in the dial revealing the discs operating the large date window, highlighting just how sophisticated the mechanism is.
The circular power-reserve counter at 6 o’clock is reminiscent of the fuel gage seen on racing motorcycles or cars. With their sophisticated finishes, the BR 01 and the BR 03 B-Rocket can communicate, making dimmed headlights within easy reach. In terms of colours and materials, nothing has been overlooked in the detail of the finish of these models: red, black, steel and padded leather are there to prove it. Their satin-brushed steel cases, worthy of the most superb fuselage, are powered by a self-winding Swiss mechanical movement. The azure counters with their guilloche finish are the mark of a quality finish. Each model is finished using techniques in keeping with the finest watch-making traditions.
The matte black dial, the graphic display of which is reminiscent of a motorcycle tachometer or a road vehicle or airplane instrumentation panel, emphasizes the colour contrast. To accentuate the emphasis on readability, the skeletonised hours and minutes hands are also coated with a photo-luminescent material. To stress their association with the world of driving, a red triangle marks 12 o’clock echoing the triangle visible on the B-Rocket’s tachometer and turbines. Finally, both watches are fitted with a padded leather strap, lined and edged in red, modelled on the seat of the B-Rocket. Naturally, to meet the requirements of Bell & Ross in terms of reliability, resistance and readability, both the BR 01 and BR 03 B-Rocket are water resistant to a depth of 100 meters and fitted with anti-glare treated sapphire crystal.
Bell & Ross is available from our Argyll Arcade Boutique.
Bell & Ross watches are manufactured with aviation at the forefront of design. The brand create beautifully engineered watches thanks to a collaboration of watchmaking experts and aircraft control specialists ensuring these aviation watches are not only fantastically engineered, but perfectly suited to professional use.
The utilitarian French watchmaker is into its second year with Renault’s revived F1 team, and things have never looked as exuberant. Forged from carbon-fibre strands with “rocking” pushbuttons in ceramic, the F1 similarities extend beyond high-tech materials to aesthetics, the dial flange directly echoing the frankly bewildering rainbow of colour-coded switches adorning Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen’s steering wheels.
The first step Bell & Ross took as a watchmaker was to create timepieces designed for professional use. They collaborated with specialists from the aeronautical industry, and the resulting timepieces had the ability to perform perfectly in even the most extreme conditions, as well as bearing all the hallmarks of Swiss luxury.