From the cockpit to the wrist: Bell & Ross' CEO Carlos Rosillo
French watchmaker Bell & Ross has just uveiled an entirely new collection of watches: the BR 05.
These new watches are described as the brand's 'most urban' collection yet, which includes an integrated casing and bracelet.
Creating an entirely new collection is a challenge for any watch brand, let alone one with such a rich history steeped in decades of aviation. Ahead of the UAE launch of the BR 05, we sat down with Bell & Ross' CEO Carlos Rosillo to ask how Bell & Ross innovates (without the identity crisis).
What sets Bell & Ross apart from other vintage-style watches?
Our Vintage collection is an evolution of the tool-watches used by the pilots and the military from World War I until the 70’s. These watches are inspired by the History of Aviation, the past.
Bell & Ross only began in 1992, what was the achievement that had the brand make a name for itself?
One of our proudest achievement and best example remains the creation of our iconic timepiece, the Instrument BR01, in 2005. It comes from the simple idea to turn a cockpit instrument panel clock into a wrist watch, ‘From the Cockpit to the Wrist’.
With its minimalist and singular style, it is the perfect expression of our DNA: its square shape, its round dial with perfect legibility, its broad dimensions and the efficiency of its functional design. This piece continuously evolved without losing its original identity.
And this year marks a new milestone for the brand with the launch of a new icon, the BR05.
The BR 05 line strays away from every other line from the brand. How do you avoid identity crisis when chasing innovation?
Challenge is a source of motivation. The question was to know what the possible evolution and direction of our collection would be over the next 5 or 10 years. We are evolving in a market where novelty is necessary. We must innovate constantly, and create a dynamic, maintain the dream.
We wanted to create a watch with the iconic Bell & Ross case and to merge it with a steel bracelet. The idea was to move from the professional world of the extreme to the urban landscape; a transition from the off-road to the in-road. With the BR05, we now have an Instrument for urban explorers.
What are some of the inspirations for Bell & Ross watches and is Gerald Genta one of them?
For the BR05, the inspiration comes from our iconic model, the BR03 which takes essence from the aeronautical cockpits. As a complementary collection and thus still very Bell & Ross, we are keeping our core codes that are the iconic case with a circle in a square, the iconic graphism dial with its 12-6-9 figures and the 4 screws.
This type of design has been a reference since the 70’s and when transposed to Bell & Ross, we get a result that is both obvious, modern and graphic.
When you were first building the brand, did you expect it to have the watch-club following it does today?
More than clients, Bell & Ross has a community of passionates. We are fortunate to have an audience extremely committed to the brand and very expert in watchmaking. The launch of our new collection has provoked a craze for comments on social networks. This spontaneous intervention of the connoisseurs is beneficial and positive, we strongly encourage it. It allows us to strengthen the link with the community, take the pulse of the launch, measure the relevance of our communication device.
The digital world reinforces the reputation of Bell & Ross and the resonance of this launch, so strategic for us.
How have the life experiences of yourself and the brand’s other co-founder shaped the direction Bell & Ross has taken?
An image comes to mind. The one from The Persuaders. For us, it is a story of complementarity. We each have our own culture, our sensitivity. But we are driven by a common passion, a same vision and we share the same values.
Who do you imagine are the kind of people that buy a Bell & Ross piece?
When picking a Bell & Ross timepiece, you look for something different using aeronautical codes and feel like belonging to an exclusive and unique club. Generally speaking, it would be an active, manly and urban man with a strong personality and who is passionate about design, cars, and watches.
Regarding the new BR05 timepiece, it is the ideal timepiece for the man about town eager to face the challenges of modern life and in control of time and his own destiny.
Do you think Bell & Ross fits in with all the other well-known brands out there or is it a bit of an outsider?
I think we have managed to become, in twenty-five years, the reference in the professional aeronautical watches.
When looking at all our references, you will understand they are the proof of the boundless creativity and inventiveness of our watchmakers. Our strength is our ability to take risks and react quickly.
What does the future of Bell & Ross look like? Can we expect more urban collections?
This is the start of a new chapter, which means we will pursue our developments for this collection. As a new line, we will have lots of possibilities whether it involves complications and functionalities or playing materials. With the BR05, it is true that we enter into a new territory with new challenges but we will always remain faithful to our origins and will keep on developing Vintage and Instruments watches.
It feels like it often goes unmentioned, but what are the challenges or positives of being one of the few French watchmakers?
We actually have a dual culture. Our Headquarters are based in Paris, France, but all of our timepieces are produced in La-Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. They are Swiss Made. We feel lucky to benefit from the latest trends, sphere of influences and luxury vision of the French Capital while having the Swiss know-how and excellency. We are proud to be the first Franco-Swiss company in the watchmaking industry that has become a benchmark in the world of professional aviation watches.