Treasure of Monaco. Sought after for exactly 200 years. Two hundred years since that day in 1815 when pirate Bartholomew Hawkins’ ship, the Black Wind, sank off the coast of Monaco. That was the year that the Principality, which had been annexed by France in 1793 following the Revolution, finally had its independence restored. Having resisted numerous attacks by the Genoese, the Aragonese and the Berbers over the course of its long history, Monaco was once again the subject of covetous interest. It was said that the beautiful mansions of this corner of paradise hid vast fortunes. For this reason, captain Hawkins had decided to lie in ambush off the coast, ready to attack any boat that could be carrying gold.
Actually, the real treasure was already aboard the Black Wind. A man of good taste, marauding habits aside, the pirate had himself made an extraordinary watch using a fragment of bronze from a cannon seized from an enemy. The timepiece, decorated with gold, housed a fabulous movement, which had been conceived several years earlier, in 1801: the tourbillon. Bart Hawkins chose to adorn the watch with the famous pirate’s emblem, the “Jolly Roger” skull and crossbones, that fluttered atop the mast of his ship. Legend has it that he wore it at every sea battle, habitually checking it before giving the order to fire a salvo of cannonballs or launch a boarding action.
However, accomplished as he was, there was one thing that even a great pirate could not control: the vagaries of the weather. As he prowled the seas, a violent storm erupted suddenly, battering and tossing his ship on the waves. The circumstances surrounding the shipwreck remain unknown, but debris found after on the shore revealed that the Black Wind had sunk virtually without trace, taking with it the captain and his legendary watch.
Since then, countless treasure seekers have tried to locate the wreck. Their efforts have all been in vain. That was until this year, when a team of divers happened upon a strange, black object lying at a depth of 60 metres, initially mistaking it for a rock. As they drew nearer, they realised they were looking at a ruptured hull. Entering the shell of the sunken vessel, they discovered what every treasure hunter dreams of finding: a lead box. Inside: maps, gold coins, diamond-studded jewellery and a watch, perfectly preserved. The watch of captain “Bart” Hawkins…
Was it all an amazing dream…’ Indeed it was… And yet the imaginary captain of this ghost ship would, without doubt, have loved to wear this timepiece inspired by pirate mythology, which has been offered by Bell & Ross for the 2015 edition of the Only Watch charity auction.
Pirates and heroes
The most fearsome fighters have historically flaunted their bravery by displaying the skull symbol, both to intimidate their opponents and to ward off ill fortune. Today, it still figures on military equipment, such as uniforms, emblems and aeroplanes. The famous”Jolly Roger” is a decorative element that is used as a talisman or a rebel symbol.
Faithful to this spirit, the BR 01 SKULL BRONZE boldly displays the skull and crossbones, formed by the bezel and the screws, which resemble the pirate flags of the past. In addition, the hands on its relief honeycomb dial reveal other traditional motifs from the military world: the sword and the dagger.
Legend and Haute Horlogerie
46 mm square case in aged bronze, skull in hand-engraved solid gold, hand-wound movement with four complications (tourbillon, regulator, accuracy indicator and power reserve), distressed brown alligator leather strap: this single-piece BR 01 SKULL BRONZE TOURBILLON combines the sophistication of an exceptional mechanical movement, the timeless beauty of a case that seems to have materialised from the past, and the provocative, symbolic resonance of the skull.
Seemingly protected by the skull at the centre of the watch, the tourbillon reveals its revolving cage in pink gold at the bottom of the dial. Considered the most noble of horological complications, its rotation compensates for measurement discrepancies caused by gravity, thereby improving the accuracy of the mechanism.
A genuine technical feat, the production and integration of this tourbillon movement in an equally idiosyncratic case, required the combined skill of the brand’s engineers and the finest Swiss master watchmakers. In tribute to their expertise, a transparent sapphire crystal aperture in the back reveals the main plates, jewels and gears…
The colour of time
To give the new BR 01 SKULL BRONZE TOURBILLON a unique look, Bell & Ross designed its case using bronze with a micro-blasted finish.
In perfect compliance with watchmaking quality standards, this alloy of copper (92%) and tin (8%) sports a very distinctive colour. Initially presenting a shade that suggests tones of pink or red gold, bronze acquires a patina over time, which gives it an incomparable ancient look.
This aged appearance is the result of bronze naturally adapting to its environment (temperature, humidity, friction, etc.). Without impacting the solidity and longevity of the material, this patina, which varies depending on the climate and the season, gives the BR 01 SKULL BRONZE TOURBILLON a particular colouring that makes each watch an absolutely unique piece. While bronze has resolutely survived many millennia, Bell & Ross brings it into the modern age by combining it with grade 5 titanium, which gives the back of the case hypoallergenic properties and extreme lightness, making it very comfortable to wear.
From Monaco to Geneva
BR 01 SKULL BRONZE TOURBILLON: this unique complication, which brings a metal from prehistory into the modern age in a Steampunk* style, will be offered by Bell & Ross as part of the Only Watch auction.
Evoking the treasure chests of legend, the watch, to be auctioned in aid of the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) [Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy], will be presented in a box made from precious wood. In the centre of the lid, a glass dome will allow admirers to gaze into the heart of the legend and marvel at this unique watch. The 6th edition of this biannual charity auction of unique timepieces, in aid of research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, will be held in Geneva in November 2015. The collection will be unveiled in Monaco for the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from 23rd to 26th September 2015, and will then be exhibited in Europe, the USA and Asia.
(*) A retro-Futuristic cultural movement.