Bell & Ross BR-X2 Tourbillon Sapphire is all movement, no case

This week in highly aspirational watches…

Before Apple Watch, Bell & Ross made the most famous square-shouldered watches in the world. Its aviation-influenced pieces are legendary.

In recent years it's really started to push the envelope of quite how advanced and exclusive you can make a watch that's modelled on a bit of cockpit instrumentation. Latest example: version two of its 'all movement, no case', Tourbillon Sapphire piece. 

The BR-X2 case is 42.5mm across, in satin-polished steel, with a grey alligator strap and folding steel buckle. It's self-winding via a micro-rotor, and water-resistant down to 50 metres.

By sandwiching the extra-thin 4.05 mm movement movement between two 42.5mm sheets of anti-reflective sapphire, the BR-X2 Tourbillon Sapphire is an exercise in, as brand creative director Bruno Belamich, puts it, “Fusing the case and movement into a single component to make the case disappear, leaving only the movement visible.”

Similarly, the skeleton dial and use of only two, Superluminova-filled, hands also mean the BR-CAL.380 movement is as fully visible as possible. The stripped-back approach is in contrast to the BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire, which perhaps over-'complicated' things (ho ho – a little horology joke, there) with chronograph dials and a reserve power meter.

On the BR-X2 Tourbillon Sapphire, you can really appreciate the mechanical flickering of the flying tourbillon at 6 o'clock. The tourbillon, at least in theory, increases the precision of the time-keeping by compensating for the gravitational pull of the earth. Mainly, it is a mesmerising showcase of the watchmaker's art.

And appreciate it you should, as you'll have just paid £49,900 for it, if you're one of the 99 connoisseurs lucky enough to snap one up.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."