Bell & Ross is well known for making watches that draw inspiration from aeronautical history, instruments and design. That’s apparent throughout their entire collection and more specifically with the BR 03-92. Its distinct 42 mm circle-square case bears resemblance to the clocks used inside of an airplane cockpit and for the past decade, Bell & Ross has continued to incorporate more design cues from other indicators on the cockpit instrument panel into the BR 03-92. A few examples include the Red Radar, HUD and the Bi-Compass. Today, Bell & Ross adds to the ongoing Flight Instruments collection with the BR 03-92 Radiocompass, staying true to their foundational design principles of Legibility, Functionality, Reliability and Precision.
What’s a Radio Compass anyways? I’ll save you the quick Google search. A Radio Compass points to the direction of terrestrial transmitting radio stations and beacons, differentiating it from a magnetic compass, which utilizes the magnetic poles of the Earth for direction. This allows the aircraft in flight to figure out its position and direction via signals on the ground. Why is this helpful? Well, it helps the pilot navigate regardless of visibility conditions (flying at night or through nasty weather) that might detract the plane’s intended flight path.
Now we have that sorted, let’s unpack the BR 03-92 Radiocompass starting with the B&R’s first design principle, Legibility. The hour and minute hands are distinguishable and sure to grab your attention. Designating the hour is a broad orange skeletonized hand that extends past the center of the dial and tipped with a broad arrow. The minute hand uses a narrower stem and is identified by its neon yellow color. Further making sure the hands are identifiable, B&R adds an “H” in the arrow of the hour hand and an encircled “M” in the middle of the minute hand. The numeral hour makers also use the Radio Compass for inspiration. Notice how the numbers angle towards the center of the dial, just as it does on the navigation instrument. The numerals also use a distinct font known as Isonorm. This font design was created directly by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and uses a clean and geometric design, with rounded ends, making the markers more legible to the human eye.
Next up, Functionality. The BR 03-92 Radiocompass uses a ceramic case ensuring the watch stays scratch free and looks the same the day you bought it. The BR 03-92 Radiocompass also displays a date window neatly tucked away between 4 and 5 o’clock. It’s subtle, discreet and I dig how B&R pulls off the date display. Expect the watch to continue its usability in complete darkness as the numerals and 12 hour triangle marker are filled with Super-Luminova. The hands may not look it, but are also lumed, using a metal skeletonized Super-Luminova.
Finally Reliability and Precision. At the core of the BR 03-92 Radiocompass is the BR-CAL.302 self-winding movement that’s based on the Sellita SW300-1; a workhorse and very dependable movement in its own right. Expect the BR 03-92 to run approximately 42 hours on a full-wind. That’s more than twice the amount of time it takes for the longest available commercial flight to complete its trip (Singapore to New York and that flight lasts 18 hours and 40 minutes). The BR 03-92 Radiocompass will be accompanied by a B&R signed rubber strap with a matching PVD steel pin and buckle, as well as a synthetic fabric strap.
The BR 03-92 Radiocompass is indeed a fun watch. Even if the BR 03-92 Radiocompass used a set of white flieger hands as opposed to the trio of colored hands, I’d totally be into it still for the Isonorm numerals and starkly contrasted dial. But that wouldn’t be Bell & Ross, and the funky hand set definitely makes this watch another welcomed addition to their Flight Instruments collection. As far as availability goes, the BR 03-92 Radiocompass will be limited to 999 pieces and the asking price, $4,100. Bell & Ross