If any brand represents how all manner of gauges and dashboard instruments have influenced watch design, it's Bell & Ross. The French watchmaker's DNA is built around aviation-themed products that look like they were pulled straight out of a cockpit and fitted with strap. But their latest creation takes the concept a step further: the famously square-shaped BR 03-92 pilot's watch has been fitted with a dial based on the aesthetics of an aircraft control radar screen.
Rather than just a traditional dial inspired by elements of a radar screen, however, Bell & Ross's new watch takes the concept all the way. It features a red-tinted sapphire crystal over the dial with the indices printed on its underside. The hours and minutes are displayed as airplanes painted on rotating discs (rather than hands) to create the visual effect that they're simply flying around the dial. The plane near the edge of the dial represents the hours, while the minutes are nearer the center. Finally, a traditional seconds hand sweeps around the dial like the radar signal we've all seen in movies, if not in real life — and don't worry, it doesn't beep every time it passes a plane.
All these dial elements existing on different planes should give the watch a visually three-dimensional effect that's not readily apparent in the images. Powered by an ETA 2892 automatic movement, it comes in a 42mm-wide black ceramic case. The overall look is very dark and tactical, but its contrast and monochromatic look should (hopefully) prove reasonably legible, though it's not clear that any of the dial elements are lumed for low-light visibility.
This is Bell & Ross's second generation of the radar concept, the first of which came out ten years ago, in 2011, and featured a different dial design as well as a black-coated steel (rather than ceramic) case. It might seem a little kitschy — and the brand acknowledges that the design is "reminiscent of a stylised toy" — but Bell & Ross of course executes a concept like this very well.
At $4,300 on a black rubber strap (and limited to 999 pieces), the price seems reasonable, considering the ceramic case and level of fit and finish one can typically expect from Bell & Ross.