It all started in 2009 when Bell & Ross replica launched its first BR 01 Skull, which dared to shake up traditional watchmaking codes. From the Vikings of the first millennium to the paratroopers of the Second World War, including the pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, the skull has always been a very prominent warlike symbol. Approaching its tenth anniversary, the iconic Swiss movement fake Bell & Ross Skull family welcomes a new addition with several faces, it is where watchmaking, design, symbolism and bold creativity meet. The new BR 01 Cyber Skull marks a break with style. It turns a page. Its avant-garde design sends this iconic series into the future.
Pirates flew their Jolly Roger atop the masts of their boats, terrorizing ships’ crews struck by this black flag emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. At dawn on 6 June 1944, during the Normandy landings, paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st American Airborne Division emerged from the night wearing a badge on their jumpsuit that bore a skull and these words: Death from Above. The series of Skull watches by Bell & Ross pays tribute to these experienced and outstandingly courageous military personnel.
Aside from its warlike significance, the skull, an accepted sign of death, has a philosophical meaning as it symbolizes the fragility and brevity of life, particularly in vanitas works of art. Memento mori —remember you must die— recall gruesome depictions in ancient paintings or in curiosity cabinets owned by humanists from the Enlightenment. Mexican tradition celebrates the Day of the Dead in the month of November, and it is a time for mocking death by wearing the famous calaveras, brightly coloured decorated skulls. This irony is expressed by the black ceramic case copy Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull in revealing a mischievous smile when its mouth is opened. It has a timelessness displayed in its faceted relief, conveying an ancient symbol in an ultra-contemporary style. This timepiece revisits the art of the skull watch. Its design is far from the vintage style usually associated with the Skull, to establish itself in contemporary modernity. It projects this art born in the 20th century into the future. A watch with several faces, it is where watchmaking, design, symbolism and bold creativity meet.
Its avant-garde design sends this iconic series into the future. Not only that, the Bell & Ross brand as a whole has launched itself towards an ultra-modern shape. The futuristic Cyber Skull opens a door to the future. With its cut sides and sharp edges, the angular silhouette of the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull is reminiscent of that of certain fighter planes described as invisible. Its case is modelled like the fuselage on an F117 fighter plane. To disappear from the radar and seem invisible, these bombers had faceted fuselages that waves would ricochet off. All their surfaces were faceted, making them almost undetectable to radars. This stealth technique is also used on the most sophisticated military ships, in order to conceal their visual identity as much as possible.
45 mm replica Bell & Ross has chosen to adorn its Cyber Skull with a black matte ceramic case measuring 45 mm in length by 46.5 in width. This anti-reflective color is also used on some military vehicles. Its glazed superstructure is reminiscent of the canopy on a jet. More than just a color, the new black matte used on the watch gets its depth from a ceramic used to match its design. Its lines, structured like those of a fighter plane, pass under the radar and establish a new language. In sharp contrast to classic watchmaking shapes that favour curves and roundness, the architecture of the new BR 01 Cyber Skull exonerates it from traditional design and allows it to establish its creativity. All whilst respecting its military and aviation roots. Each element of the watch, the case middle, bezel, crown, skull, crossbones, is structured within the many faces that sculpt the surfaces, creating volumes and a 3D image.
Sculpted like a stealth plane It maintains a strong link with aeronautics. Its angular design as well as matte colors are reminiscent of military stealth bombers. To escape the radar but attract attention. Designed like a work of art, its extremely modern lines echo contemporary art and in particular a certain avant-garde trend. Its many facets offer a fascinating play on the multiplication of perspectives, between flat and smooth surfaces, creating a pixelated effect. Behind its provocative, symbolic and artistic face, the BR 01 Cyber Skull hides the secrets of an automaton watch belonging to the world of Haute Horlogerie, Created like a designer object, the angular shapes of the Cyber Skull break tradition its geometric lines that are part of the same futuristic universe as those of cars or art. Like a highly pixelated image, the SKULL reveals several sides of the same reality. Emphasized by its sharp edges, its many facets offer a fascinating play on the multiplication of perspectives, between flat and smooth surfaces.
Inserted in the imposing volume of the case, the rubber strap is stamped with ‘BR’, like a seal heralding a contemporary mythology. Endorsing the ultimate paradox of black which allows it to affirm the light whilst absorbing it, the BR 01 Cyber Skull invites all possibilities. Whether a collector or newcomer, Jedi Knight or Sith Lord, everyone can have their own adventure.
Only perfect mastery of the operation of a mechanical movement could, in reality, conceal the BR-CAL 206 manual wound movement under the faceted decoration. To make it invisible to the eye, the main plate closely follows the shape of the skull, while the bridges extend up to the four corners of the case, hidden by the tibia bones. An architecture like this makes the skull appear to float weightlessly inside the case. An impression which is enhanced by the total transparency of the dial, highlighted solely by 12 baton-shaped indices. Only when the watch is turned over is the key to the mystery revealed through the sapphire crystal display case back.
In addition to the hour and minute indication, the automaton movement activates the jaw which opens and appears to snigger when the spring is wound. Making up the brain of this skull —which has finally come to life — the balance spring reveals its oscillations. The beating of the same, serves as a reminder of the watch’s mechanical heart.
Bell & Ross chose ceramic to create this BR 01 Cyber Skull, a high-tech material that is solid yet lightweight, both for the case and the decoration. Compounded by the brute force of the material, the aesthetic force of the timepiece merges technologies together. Fired at an extremely high temperature, the ceramic acquires a density and resistance not dissimilar to black matte, a color that cannot be achieved with traditional watchmaking materials. Grinding using diamond powder meant the facets could be resurfaced, in the same way jewelers cut a precious stone. The best 1:1 copy Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull ref. BR01-CSK-CE/SRB is available in a 500-piece limited edition.