Bell and Ross BR-05 Captures The Royal Oak Vibe, at a Lower Price

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has been one of the big success stories of recent years. With its classic tool watch lines, that `bolted down’ case look and understated elegance, the AP Royal Oak has waiting lists around the world, and a healthy trade in professional fakes – so beware if offered a bargain priced pre-owned example without paperwork.

Now Bell & Ross are a relatively new brand, founded in the 90s and French, rather than Swiss, although their watches are manufactured in Switzerland. With an in-house movement the Bell & Ross BR-05 features satin-finished stainless steel and 18ct gold plate to give it that 80s style two-tone look.

That may not be your cup of tea, and if so the BR-05 is available in plain stainless steel, or all over gold plating. Plus there’s a skeleton dial model too.

It’s a 40mm case size, so this is a watch that is perfect for formal occasions and evenings out. A see-thru caseback lets you get a look at the Cal BR 321, which is a re-worked version of the Sellita SW300 automatic unit. You get a rotor on the movement that is kinda like a cast alloy, multi-spoke wheel from the 80s, that also has a sort of matte, grey finish, rather than the more usual polished metal rotor seen on Swiss autos.

There’s a 42 hour power reserve and it runs at 28,000vph.

Bell & Ross have worked some magic on quite an old movement in watchmaking terms, but something at this price point deserves better in terms of movement technology – some might say.

The RRP for the new two-tone BR-05 is £8,800, which is serious money. OK, it isn’t Patek or AP money, so you are getting a watch that looks just as good, for a great wedge of cash less. But at nine grand you have some stiff competition when it comes to tool/dress watch hybrids.

A Breitling Chronomat 44 is 10K at Ernest Jones right now, or how about a Tudor Black Bay in gold and steel, 41mm case, classic Submariner styling at £3,900 brand new? That was at AMJ Watches online by the way.

Verdict; The BR-05 two tone Gold and Steel is a beauty, but if you’re buying with an eye to future resale value then you need to consider a Breitling or Tudor because both those names carry more weight in the pre-owned market.

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