It’s been eight sweet years since Bell & Ross signed on the dotted line to become the official watch partner of the Alpine Formula 1 team, formerly known as the Renault F1 team. The Franco-Swiss company has just dropped the BR 05 Chrono A523 timepiece to mark the milestone this year.
“What brings the two entities together is the same passion for precision mechanics and high performance. Through this prestigious partnership, Bell & Ross is pursuing its quest for excellence and innovation,” says Carlos-A Rosillo, chairman and co-founder of the pioneering watchmaking company.
This alliance brings together two brands known for their innovation, accuracy and relentless pursuit of excellence, sharing a trait of constant evolution and dedication to achieving peak performance. The collaboration extends beyond mere sponsorship, with Bell & Ross actively contributing to the team’s success through its technical expertise and commitment to performance.
Bell & Ross has a longstanding reputation for creating timepieces inspired by aviation and military instruments. Its watches are renowned for their exceptional qualities which are highly valued in the fast-paced and high-pressure world of Formula 1 racing.
Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon will each be donning a BR 05 Chrono for the rest of the season, engraved with their respective names and numbers. “This year, the BR 05 Chrono A523 completes the series of Alpine timepieces, subtly adopting its colour code while perfectly meeting the needs of the team’s drivers. But beyond style and colourways, above all, we are designing a tool that serves the driver: an ally at all times,” explains Bruno Belamich, creative director and co-founder of Bell & Ross.
The BR 05 Chrono is making its competition debut this season in Alpine colours to complement its existing models. “The choice of chrono movement meets the needs of Team Alpine, who are of course measuring speed and sports performance,” adds Belamich.
The finely graduated black dial with two counters, embellished with the French flag and the Alpine logo to counterbalance the chronograph hand, focuses on readability and functionality in any setting, be it a business meeting, an active outing or a dinner date.
Sporty yet chic and limited to 500 pieces, the elegant design is underlined by a 42mm diameter case that “continues to square the circle”. The watch can be worn with a steel bracelet or a black leather strap. The BR 05 Chrono A523 is water resistant to 100m and powered by a resilient movement, the self-winding mechanical BR-CAL.326 calibre with hours, minutes, small seconds at nine o’clock and date functions.
This is a collaboration that combines the timeless elegance of horology with the speed, adrenaline and technological prowess of Formula 1 racing, promising an exciting future for both brands and their respective enthusiasts.
Two minutes with Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly
Share with us the memory of your first watch.
Esteban Ocon: The first watch I owned was the Bell & Ross X1, which I received in 2016. It was the carbon version. I have a very close story with the brand, thanks to this watch.
Pierre Gasly: As a kid, I really liked the Casio G-Shock and I had a red one that I kept for a really long time.
What do you look for when buying a watch?
Ocon: For me, it’s all about the feeling. When I wear a watch, it needs to be comfortable, easily readable and eye-popping in terms of design. Being with Bell & Ross, I am lucky because there are so many watches that catch my eye.
Gasly: Definitely the look and feel, the design detail and also the complexity depending on the function of the watch.
How does your sense of style and desire for functionality align with Bell & Ross’ spirit of watchmaking?
Ocon: I think what aligns is obviously the quality, the savoir-faire, the precision and the design I am looking for when partnering with a watch company. Bell & Ross is like family now. The people are super friendly and I’m proud to have been a part of it for many years.
Gasly: The watches are made with the basic principles of legibility, functionality, reliability and precision. These are very similar to the sporting industry. Every detail has its purpose and function.
What Bell & Ross model do you own and which is your favourite?
Ocon: Definitely the BR-X1 A521. It’s a special watch because it has my number and my winning flag. It always reminds me of my first victory. I also like the BR 05 Skeleton Green; it goes well with my suits and special occasions. When I’m driving orange cars, I make sure I wear the BR 03-94 AERO GT Orange Limited Edition. It’s perfect for the racing environment I live in.
Gasly: I have the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 A522 Alpine F1, a limited edition of 999 pieces from last year’s collection, which is a small reminder about our cars. I also have the BR 05 Blue Steel, which has a lifestyle vibe.
How important is timekeeping for a professional driver such as your good self?
Ocon: Timekeeping is super important for us professional drivers. One minute late could mark the end of the world. We need to be on time constantly and having a wearable watch helps us be on time, especially for any engagements we have. I have never been late for any meeting, so it’s working well.
Gasly: Critical, as we are constantly fighting time as race car drivers. We are also busy and need to keep track of time. So it is absolutely important.
This article first appeared on July 10, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.