THIS, quite simply, is Bell & Ross’s take on the green dial “Bronzo” Submersible of Panerai. While not a few watchmakers have their own bronze case/green dial combos, the Panerai Bronze and the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Green Bronze are both housed in bronze cases that don’t rely on aluminum — like, say, the popular Tudor Black Bay Bronze.
Panerai’s and Bell & Ross’s bronze cases are fashioned from an alloy that’s 92% copper, 8% tin. This gives them a distinctly reddish, rather than yellowish or brownish, tone; well, copper is reddish. This type of bronze is also less stable, and will oxidize more easily. When it does, it turns greenish (picture shipwrecks at the bottom of the ocean). To those who are sane enough to resist the allure of watches, this patination may seem gross. But to the timepiece-afflicted. . . oh, wow, this quality is well worth the admission price. Especially because no two cases will ever patinate in the same way.
That the BR03-92 Diver Green Bronze (like a version of the Bronzo) comes with a green dial only ties up the color palette neatly.
What the bronze case/green dial mix also allows the BR03-92 Diver is an Old World vintage-y vibe that lends Bell & Ross a semblance of decades-old heritage. Which the brand simply does not have; it was founded in 1992, or basically two Tuesdays ago in the watchmaking world. The combination is quite evocative of maritime history, and the fact the case will “age” readily just boosts the illusion.
Bell & Ross’s introduction of the BR03-92 Diver in 2017 successfully transitioned the brand’s signature aviation instrument look into a diver’s watch. True, Bell & Ross had put out dive watches before, counting in the Hydromax of 1997 that boasted an insane 11,100-meter depth rating. But the BR03-92 Diver adopted the square case and round dial styling —”time instruments from the cockpit to the wrist”— which identifies majority of the brand’s timepieces.
The BR03-92 Diver of 2017 came in a steel case. The “Bronzo” refreshed the line this year while also adding a version in black ceramic. All versions measure 42 millimeters square.
As a watch belonging in the BR line, the BR03-92 Diver has a dial that is very legible, adorned as it is by standard dive-watch furniture. Its thick, SuperLuminova-coated gilt hands contrast against the olive background well enough while at the same time complementing the gilt on the dot and elongated dot hour markers. A second track, with stouter indices every five seconds, is rendered in white so it is quite legible, too. A circular date window appears in between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock. The feature is so tiny that it’s easy to miss, rendering it nearly useless. The upside is that it is so tiny that, well, it’s easy to miss.
Sitting on top of the case is a uni-directional bezel also in bronze, with an anodized aluminum insert that’s in a shade of green lighter than that on the dial. The BR’s signature screw heads, with slots all perfectly lined up diagonally, fill up what otherwise would have been negative spaces on the corners of the case. An added detail here is a screw-in crown that gets both a rubber lining (for better grip) and a protector extending from the case. Inscribed here are “LOCK” and an arrow, borrowing perhaps another cue from other instruments. Both the crown and protector are made from bronze as well. Sapphire crystal, thicker than usual, covers the watch’s top.
Recognizing that bronze may cause some people skin irritation, the screw-down caseback is made of steel. Bell & Ross no longer bothered to line up the screw head slots on the corners of the caseback, like it did on top of the case. The “frame” of the case gets more inscriptions, while the middle is engraved with a wave pattern and an image of an ancient diver’s helmet. All this sealing methods afford the BR03-92 Diver Green Bronze a respectable 300-meter water-resistance rating.
Beneath the bronze lies Bell & Ross’s self-winding BR-CAL.302. It is based on a Sellita SW300, so it should prove robust, and spins at 28,800vph with a 38-hour power reserve. Only 999 examples of the BR03-92 Diver Green Bronze are available. Give them enough time and none of these will look exactly the same as any of the others.