Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull – Jolly Roger goes sci-fi

Bell & Ross takes a bold leap into the future with the introduction of the BR 01 Cyber Skull, the latest member of the BR SKULL family.

While the brand has largely been defined by its cockpit instrument inspired dials, the launch of the BR 01 SKULL’s edgy design back in 2009 challenged traditional luxury watch designs. So if you decided that you needed a watch to match your weekend warrior dose of masculine aggression complete with torn jeans and a leather jacket, Bell & Ross had just the watch for you. Since then, the collection received several iterations that included a tourbillon (BR 01 Tourbillon Skull), a tattooed case (BR 01 Burning Skull), and the even more macabre but very cool BR 01 Laughing Skull that featured an animated jaw. Because a static skull just isn’t enough to express your mood.

This new entry, however, is more than just a facelift (pun intended). While the previous BR X1 gave us a peek into the future with its case design, the BR 01 Cyber Skull has dialled it up by several notches. It is a complete radical redesign of the brand’s iconic square case to match the geometrical aesthetics of the star of the show and a glimpse into what could potentially be a new chapter for Bell & Ross.

The case is an interesting evolution from the original BR 01. The signature circle-within-a-square is nowhere to be seen, and the four screws in the corners have transitioned to the inner workings of the dial. The lugs are gone and, in their place, cut-outs for the rubber strap within the case continue its new streamlined look. These adjustments have elongated the case, transforming it into a rectangle, and the crystal now takes on the responsibility of retaining the brand-defining square. These changes make for a futuristic and smartwatch-esque look.

The design language takes inspiration from the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft. The BR 01 Cyber Skull has also reshaped the skull motif from detailed realism into an angular polygonal symbol, packaged into the multi-faceted case. Both are crafted from black ceramic with a matte finish, as are the crossbones that have now been integrated into the dial, sitting on the bridges that fasten the movement to the corners of the case. This modern interpretation of Jolly Roger is sandwiched between the clear, anti-reflective sapphire crystals, and the result is a skeletonised (how fitting) watch that appears to float within the case. The silhouette is stealthy, the facets pop as you approach, and the lumed hour and minute hands provide practical visibility in darker environments.

The hand-wound BR-CAL.206 movement from the Laughing Skull powers this timepiece, which means you can continue to decide the degree of the snigger with the moving jaw. Also similar is the exposed balance spring that serves as the brain within the skull.

Despite its stealth-inspired design, don’t expect this to go unnoticed. The case sits large on the wrist with its 45mm x 46.5mm dimensions. The bold, avant-garde design will attract a fair amount of attention, but surely that is the entire point of a statement timepiece such as this.

Whether this signals a new creative direction for future Bell & Ross models remains to be seen. If it does, consider me intrigued.