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 Bell

Duncan has been writing about tech for over a decade and has seen more than any man should see, tech-wise. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with taking selfies and going up to complete strangers and saying, "I use to be on the TV, you know." He is widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3, but accepts that is not saying much.