Performance and precision are the hallmarks of the French luxury house of Bell & Ross which makes its precision watches in Switzerland. The house manufactures watches that feature specific functions and has made aviation, especially aeronautical instruments, its main specialty. The house’s technical expertise has inspired air, land and naval forces to select their time instruments over the years for professional use.
This year the house has added yet another elite formation to its watch-making agenda for the house was chosen by the French Air and Space Force to become the official watchmaking partner of the Patrouille de France, the French Air and Space Force’s official acrobatic display team which was officially commissioned in 1953. Considered to be one of the most precise and aesthetic acrobatic flying teams in the world, the Patrouille de France has flown around the world for nearly 70 years. It is akin to the Thunderbirds of the U.S. Air Force. The team comprising 9 pilots and 35 engineers trains in the winter and demonstrates at air shows in the summer. It traditionally opens the Bastille Day parade in Paris with nine Alpha jets and this year was no exception. Time is a crucial element to pilots allowing maneuvers to be executed flawlessly in complete safety.
The professional instrument that Bell & Ross has designed for the Patrouille meets very specific needs. The house worked closely with the pilots and designed a chronograph that is perfectly adapted to their operational needs, the BR 03-94 Patrouille de France. Features include a case made of high-tech ceramic, a material that the aerospace sector holds dear and it is found in the design of heat shields and noses for rockets. Almost as tough as a diamond, ceramic is hardwearing and lighter than steel.
It houses an automatic mechanical chronograph movement for the chronograph is the essential tool in aerial navigation for measuring short time intervals. With eight pilots and sometimes nine flying at over 600km/hour, precision must be absolute. The chronograph seconds hand is in the center of the dial. Decision and legibility are the two key criteria for the pilots and the color used on the daily provides a visual contrast to offer optimal readability. The timepiece has been brought out for the public in a limited edition of just 500 pieces. Outfitted with a black rubber and ultra resilient black synthetic fabric strap, it is water resistant to 100 meters.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette