Held from the utilitarian case, which itself features a solid caseback and miniaturized crown, is a vintage-inspired, curved sapphire crystal that looks like the acrylic crystals of the past. Under this is the watch’s detail-packed dial using a B-Uhr pilot-style triangle in the 12 o’clock place, a red inscription toward 6 o’clock position for “Army Form,” and artificial patina accents throughout. The timepiece comes with an outer second track with big printed indices and Arabic numerals rising in increments of 5 at every hour mark, using a subtle, spherical date window at the 4:30 position hiding in plain sight. Powering the watch’s distinct hand configuration is the automatic Caliber BR-CAL. 302, which relies on the Sellita SW-200, and shops a 38-hour power reserve. The item is currently available online and via boutiques worldwide, priced from the brand at $1,990. One of the clearest historically based details, you will notice the stainless steel case using simple satin-finishing, sized at 38.5-mm — which is at least 5 mm larger than the WWII-era watches it appears to be paying homage to, but nevertheless a dimension relatively restrained in contrast with the typically large watches produced by the brandnew You will also notice the pilot’s-watch-style 12 o’clock hour mark, a characteristic first developed in the late 1930s on German B-Uhr pieces and which find their contemporary descendants in the Big Pilot and Mark XVIII from IWC, the Stowa Flieger Klassik, and many other watches. The final important vintage-inspired feature is in the small red inscription toward the bottom of the dial, a detail that was more prevalent in later, post-war military watches like the Heuer-developed Bundeswehr 1550 SG (picture above, through FratelloWatches) discussed within our coverage of the 1950s-derived Junghans Meister Pilot. Overall, the contemporary watch appears like borrowing key attributes from early pilots watches like the B-Uhr and Mark 11 (image below), while also taking on additional army watch influences like those from the “Dirty Dozen” WWII bits and later army chronographs.
Bell & Ross’ WW1 Regulateur watch was among the most under-appreciated dress watches of 2013 in my opinion- and I think it is safe to call it a dress watch. What you are seeing is among the most elegant and “minimalist” regulator-style timepieces available, that still manages to achieve a high level of legibility and design refinement. It is one of the latest high-end pieces in the larger Bell & Ross WW1 collection and, as of now, only comes in 18k pink gold.
Over the last five or so years Bell & Ross has been “stepping back in time” by examining key eras from the past and designing watches with those themes and time periods in mind. When the WW1 collection was launched in around 2011 (hands-on here), it was a Bell & Ross homage to the first wrist watch, or in their lingo “wrist watch 1.” That of course was meant to look like WWI, or “World War I,” but that is when most people agree the wrist watch became a mainstream object. Though wrist watches as a product started in around 1904.
Most Bell & Ross WW1 timepieces are meant to resemble early wrist watches that evolved from pocket watches. The WW1 Regulateur has some of those features such as the hoop-style lugs as well as the caseback style. The caseback is actually pretty nice, with a machine guilloche engraved design that is a welcome added texture given that most of the case is polished smooth like a pebble. Bell & Ross calls the engraving style “barleycorn.”
The case is also nicely sized at 42mm wide and wears very comfortably on the wrist. Bell & Ross intentionally produced it in 18k pink gold so as to communicate its higher-end nature. In addition to being part of a small limited edition of pieces, the WW1 Regulateur is a bit more expensive than your average Bell & Ross timepiece. It also happens to come on a beautiful brown alligator strap with matching 18k pink gold buckle.