Bell & Ross likes to break codes and think outside the box. From the very beginning. The franco-suisse house has created concept models that are now an integral part of its DNA. Then in 2009, the BR01 “Skull Head” is the first of a highly successful series of Skull watches. Regularly enriched with new references, this year the line welcomes the BR 01 Laughing Skull, which is equipped with an automatic mechanism, a first at Bell & Ross.
In this vein, the BR 01 “Skull”, launched in 2009, was one of the first to ride the wave of the trend for Skull watches. On the back of this success, Bell & Ross revealed two new limited edition models in 2011, including the famous BR 01 Tourbillon Skull.
A third revisited series was released in 2015. This collection adopted a bronze case, which would develop a patina over time, transforming each watch into a unique piece. In 2016, Bell & Ross showed innovation with its BR 01 Burning Skull concept that featured an engraved case decorated with black lacquer, reminiscent of the ink used by tattoo artists.
Today, Bell & Ross is going one step further with a new Skull watch, this time equipped with an automaton movement. It includes a surprise that will make you laugh: the mandible moves and the skull grins back at you! The Bell & Ross Skull family has become an iconic collection and is now approaching its tenth anniversary.
THE SYMBOL OF DEATH TO WARD OFF DANGER
The skull symbol has been used for centuries, particularly by pirates. They consider it a talisman that brings them courage and frightens off their enemies. It is also used by the military, as a constant reminder of their own vulnerability. These professionals often face death in the line of duty and this image appears on their uniforms and aircrafts.
THE HISTORIC WATCHMAKING AUTOMATON FIGURE
With its new BR 01 Laughing Skull watch, Bell & Ross is venturing into the field of automata for the first time. These autonomous mechanisms, which feature an animated display, appeared in Europe in the 14th century at the same time as mechanical clocks. They often take the form of a Jaquemart, an animated mechanized figure of a person, fitted to a church clock tower to strike the hours on a bell.
The original Laughing Skull concept is therefore a kind of direct descendant of these elegant animation systems.
The new Bell & Ross watch conceals a powerful character. The skull’s mandible is animated during winding. To create it, the brand developed the BR-CAL.206: a caliber entirely produced by the manufacture that is also skull-shaped, so that the mechanism fits the case perfectly. In the extension of the 4 bones, the 4 bridges secure the main plate to the case and come together to form a single assembly floating in the center of the watch.
This bold timepiece is made from microblasted steel. The 46-mm case is decorated with a “Clous de Paris” finish. This type of guilloché pattern requires special machining. The marriage of the Skull dial and its guilloché case adds to the character of the whole piece.
5/7Naturally, the skull on the dial is the key feature of this watch. It has been made from metal appliqué, which has been embossed to create a relief pattern. This process is usually used to mint coins or make medals. As an added bonus, the skeleton work gives the impression that the skull is floating weightless in the center of the case. The sword-shaped hands are similar to those on the earlier Skull collections, but on this model they are skeletonized and coated in SuperLuminova.
The BR 01 Laughing Skull has been created for those who love original timepieces. It is symbolic in more ways than one, making it a powerful statement piece. Its automaton movement places it in the category of exceptional watches. Produced in a limited edition of 500, this model will appeal particularly to collectors of Haute Horlogerie watches. The BR 01 Laughing Skull model sees the brand take the Skull concept one brave step further.