This last weekend, on behalf of watchmaker Bell & Ross, I was lucky enough to head along to the Australian Grand Pris at Melbourne’s Albert Park. It may have been my first time at the F1, but as the season was kicking off, I wasn’t up in the stands getting my clothes soaked while the guy behind me spilled his beer in the midst of cheering – I was trackside right in the thick of the action, feeling gushes of wind blow through my hair every time a swift racing beast whizzed by. The things I do for you, dear readers…oh, who are we kidding: this one was for me and it was absolutely unreal!
Apologies to my Aussie mates, but the Formula One Team I was cheering for this year was the French automobile titan Renault, who recently took over the Lotus Team and last year endured some common transitional hiccups. 2017 is set to be Renault’s official comeback year and they’re more than prepared to let those new R.S.17 racing machines rip toward the finish line with professional drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer at the wheel.
While those Renault drivers will have their eyes strongly on the prize and some insane automotive agility at their disposal, they’ll also have some serious gear adorning their wrists courtesy of France’s Bell & Ross. The watch brand has become the official partner of the Renault Sport Formula One Team, and are decking out every single team member with one of the iconic Bell & Ross timepieces.
It’s a natural pairing. For starters, with a strong following among aviators, particularly with the legendary BR 01 which was directly inspired by the clocks inside an airplane’s cockpit, Bell & Ross already has plenty of experience straddling the two worlds of high performance vehicles and brilliant horology. The new partnership of these two French brands therefore represents the best of mechanics and performance on all fronts. Renault’s racing cars have been engineered using the latest and greatest in automotive innovations while Bell & Ross’ watches combine prime materials with sporty designs to deliver lightweight resilience and the utmost accuracy.
Like a track car compared to its road car counterpart, the new BR-X1 line from Bell & Ross takes their benchmark watches to the extreme and reaches the highest tier of performance in the process. To achieve such a feat, Bell & Ross employed premium grade titanium and carbon fibre, two materials synonymous with durability, shock-resistance and incredible lightness on both cars and watches. But the comparisons between the watches and racing cars don’t stop at the use of materials. The design itself on the new BR-X1 line was modelled directly after Renault’s Sport Formula One R.S.17 Race Cars.
Take, for instance, the beautiful BR03-94 RS17. Limited to a mere 500 pieces, the watch is housed in a matte black ceramic case and includes a carbon fibre dial. In each corner on top of the 42mm case are accentuated screws, lending the piece a truly resilient and sporty vibe while conjuring associations with the interior of a track car. The automatic mechanical movement is calibre BR-CAL.301 and there’s a tachymeter scale on the flange. The piece also includes two chronographs that feature yellow anodised aluminium, a colour that’s been used by Renault since they first got in the Formula One racing game. Pair all those specs with anti-reflective sapphire crystal and an ultra-resilient woven black rubber strap and you’re looking at a lightweight stunner built to maximise shock resistance, remain legible and functional at high speeds, and handle all the turbulence you can throw at it.
For those interested in the watch who couldn’t make it out to F1, the new BR-X1 range will also debut at this year’s upcoming Baselworld. Each watch is meant to duly represent not just the high performance standards set forth by the racing industry, but even the singular aesthetic exuded by the sleekest, meanest machines. As a result the range is strikingly original and painstakingly dependable.
Bell & Ross CEO and co-founder Carlos-A. Rosillo had this to say: “Our collaboration with Renault Sport Formula One Team marks a new milestone for Bell & Ross. It is the result of an encounter which gave us the desire to work together. Our two companies are passionate about mechanics and it is clear that we are both working in the ongoing pursuit of innovation, precision and performance. We hope this will be a lucky partnership on both sides and that we will make people dream and arise the fans’ passion for wonderful mechanics!”
Should any of you be lucky enough to attend any of the upcoming F1 series, be prepared for some high-octane action along with plenty of eye-catching fashion statements. And should you see a young, stylish Renault engineer standing trackside and a remarkable watch on his wrist, be sure to shout hello from the nosebleeds. Assuming they’re not in the middle of a race, as they just might actually hear you.