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Brian M. Afuang

Barrel Of Monkeys

Bell & Ross joins BAPE’s 25th birthday party with two limited-edition watches

FASHION designer, DJ, music producer and overall cool Japanese dude Nigo (or Tomoaki Nagao) in 1993 set up his clothing brand A Breathing Ape, or BAPE, for short. The company makes lifestyle and street wear characteristically Japanese — not to mention humorous — for men and women, and even for kids. To mark its 25th birthday this year, BAPE picked just as many partners with whom it ventured into various fun collab jobs. One of those who partied with the brand is Bell & Ross, a watchmaker that time and again has shown it has the capacity for good humor.

Unveiled during BAPE’s recent celebration of its quarter-century gig, held in Tokyo, were two Bell & Ross timepieces, both of which capped at low numbers, and both youthful, fun renditions of its iconic square-case BR03-92. Common between the two watches are their black, 42-millimeter, 100-meter water-resistant, matte-ceramic cases, within which sit Bell & Ross’s signature hands, indices and fonts used for the three hour numerals (3, 9, 12). A two-layer dial, where the one on top has cutouts for the numerals and indices while the one beneath is coated with lume, guarantees the sizeable elements on them become even more legible. The resulting look does not deviate all that much from the analog aviation instruments the brand has always been associated with, although now there’s a decidedly stronger military vibe to it.

The BAPE pair also shares movements; Bell & Ross’s cal. BR-CAL.302. It’s a 25-jewel, 28,800vph self-winder that traces its origins to a Sellita. Power reserve is good for 38 hours.     

Instantly marking out the BR03-92 25th Anniversary is the white BAPE logo — a stylized ape’s head — printed on its black dial at 6 o’clock, which is surrounded by off-white numerals. Well, that’s until the light goes out. Because then the numerals start to glow in ultra-phosphorescent green. A sapphire crystal covers the case on top. Two straps come with the watch; a black one with a BAPE logo, and a cool calfskin leather piece adorned with BAPE’s trademark gray camouflage pattern. 

Available in only 25 pieces, the BR03-92 25th Anniversary comes in a water-resistant presentation box made by Pelican. 

Also coming in a camouflage box, complete with a black rubber strap and a black fabric one, is the BR03-92 Green Camo, which is limited to 100 pieces. The model combines Bell & Ross’s visual codes with the original green-camouflage pattern on its dial, which with white hour fonts and indices, looks ready for jungle action. An Ape logo blends in with the design. A small inscription “Apes Together Strong” says this timepiece is, well, monkeying around.

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