Bell & Ross demonstrated its affinity for military and aviation history last year with the release of two timepieces modeled after those worn during World War I: the PW1 pocketwatch and its wristwatch version, the Vintage WW1. This year, the company pays tribute to the timekeepers and navigation instruments of the second World War with its new model, the Vintage Bell & Ross WW2 Régulateur Heritage.
World War II bomber pilots and navigators needed a watch that emphasized clear legibility and ease of use even while wearing gloves. Bell & Ross’s new model incorporates several of the solutions employed on timepieces of that era, including an extra-large 49-mm-diameter case; an ergonomically engineered bezel with wide-spaced notches that rotates in both directions; an oversized, grooved crown; and a classical regulator dial, with a large, central minutes hand and subdials for the hours and seconds.
The regulator dial was considered more easy to read at a glance because of the emphasis on the minutes, the most important indicator for a pilot on a mission, who needs to make quick, precise reads of short intervals of time. The legibility of the dial is further enhanced by the contrast between the black dial and the sand-colored hands, numerals and indices. (Click on photos for larger images.)
The case, in stainless steel with a striking, gunmetal-gray PVD finish, contributes to the watch’s vintage look, as does the distressed-look calfskin leather strap. In another aesthetic and functional nod to the Bell Ross Br-01-94 Replica that inspired this model, its case is equipped with moveable strap fasteners that adjust to the wrist for a comfortable fit. Also designed to enhance wearing comfort is the big crown, which is positioned at 9 o’clock, rather than the traditional 3 o’clock.
Bell & Ross has outfitted this vintage military-style watch with a modern, automatic regulator movement by Dubois-Dépraz. The sapphire crystal has a non-reflective coating and the numerals, hands and indices are coated with a sand-colored luminous substance. The case is water-resistant to 50 meters. A retail price of $6,600 will snare you this ticking tribute to the aerial navigation tools of the 1930s and ’40s.