I am sometimes surprised when I see a relatively new watch and think it’s been around forever. Such is the case with the Bell & Ross BR 05, which launched in 2019.
One of the reasons the BR 05 Chrono White Hawk Replica collection already feels so familiar is that it taps so superbly into the brand’s “DNA.” This is one of Bell & Ross’s strong points: for decades, Bell & Ross has built its collections with such care that other brands should take notes. The BR 05 is an excellent example of this as it follows the lines of the very successful BR collection but adds fluid lines and an integrated bracelet. This gives an urban touch to the military-inspired watch.
In 2020 Bell & Ross expanded the BR 05 collection with a chronograph. This is my favorite version of the watch to date for a couple of reasons. I like the chronograph’s two counters, which are outlined to match the shape of the case. The way that Bell & Ross integrated the pushers into the crown guard is also a treat.
The blue–dial version immediately caught my eye upon launch thanks to the richness of the hue, which, in combination with the sunburst finish, comes across velvety. But favorites can change – as exemplified by the BR 05 Chrono White Hawk. As the name reveals, this watch features a white dial, which is in fact silver opaline. But that is more an industry insider term so “white” it is.
What surprised me the most was how this new light-colored dial changed the look of the BR 05 Chrono. It is virtually the same watch as its siblings, but the color makes a big difference. I find it hard to put in words, but one might say that the BR 05 Chrono White Hawk is more extroverted: it seems as if the dial opens, giving it a more outgoing character.
The silver-colored outlines of the squarish subdials following the case shape blend in rather than stand out, and the same goes for the Arabic numerals. In a stroke of brilliance, Bell & Ross added a touch of red on the chronograph second hand and minute counter, which is absolutely magic, adding a dynamic and sportiveness that is just right. It makes the entire watch work as a whole because there is synergy between both the elements and the colors.
The dial features several levels, which makes it even more captivating: on the main level, the Super-LumiNova-filled hour markers and Arabic numerals are thick, while the subdials and date window are recessed.
Bell & Ross is one of the few brands that always gets the date right. With that, I mean that the brand’s designers make it as less intrusive on the overall dial design as possible, going to the trouble of making the background match the dial. I know that this is relatively easy with a white dial, but Bell & Ross also gets it right with its colored dials.
A nice detail is also that both the date and brand name are printed thicker, so the letters and numbers have substance to them. It is just a little detail, but details like this make all the difference and greatly increase the joy you get from a watch.
The rest of the BR 05 Chrono White Hawk Replica is the same as its siblings. Coming in a 42 mm case, it is powered by Caliber BR-CAL.301, which is based on the ETA 2894-2. This robust and reliable movement can be admired through the sapphire crystal case back. A white hawk emblem metalized in silver dominates the back sapphire crystal. This is a nice touch, but my only concern is that it also covers most of the movement and the oscillating weight, which are a treat to see.
Bell & Ross offers the BR 05 Chrono White Hawk Replica on a bracelet and a black rubber strap, but in my opinion owners should get both. Each has a very different character, and switching is done in mere seconds. This adds to the versatility of this watch, which is great because Bell & Ross went to the trouble of making it water-resistant to 100 meters. And if you take regular plunges the rubber strap is the way to go.
The only thing I do hope is that Bell & Ross will consider adding a white rubber strap to the collection. I had never been a fan of white rubber straps until I got one on a Swatch. Especially in summer, white strikes just the right tone. And in this case, it would also superbly match the dial. As they say, it is always good to still have something to wish for.