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anton

Bell & Ross BR01-92 RAID and BR01-97 Power Reserve

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Today I'd like to share my review and insight on two recently acquired reps: The Bell & Ross BR01-92 and BR01-97. Initially I was going to post this yesterday, but I had hoped to have a gen in my hands to make a side-by-side comparison. Unfortunately, the AD didn't have the one I wanted.

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The ones in question are the first two, from the left. This really should be two reviews, but being that they are are of similar construction, I'd like to refer to both as one watch and anything pertaining to each watch will be noted therein.

I've had a long history with the B&R BR01 series since 2006. I first saw it in an aviation magazine and for some reason it drew it me in. I had purchased one (BR01-92 in Opaline) back in January but then exchanged it the very next day for a Super Avenger, one that I use as my daily wearer. I've half-regretted it since then and had been meaning to purchase again, but reading reviews of other watches have always led me astray.

That brings me to the reps. I wanted an initial "test drive" of the series just to see if it would satisfy my hunger. These definitely are a looker.

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Aesthetics:

The case dimensions are 46mmx46mmx10.8mm, on par with the gen. It has a sapphire crystal, with antireflective coating apparent on both models. It's not strong, but it's there as there is a degree of "invisibility" when viewed at certain angles, and the blue hue is also a sure tell. The crown, when unscrewed requires three complete turns for it to "lock" snugly into the case. Both cases have a "brushed" satin finish to them and polished edges. They certainly have a "high quality" feeling to them.

Both watches came standard with a rubber strap, identical to genuine size and a brushed/polished steel buckle that also feels pretty solid and well-built.

Movement:

Word has it that the BR01-92 rep comes with a clone of the 2892 and the BR01-97 rep comes with a clone of the 2897. Since I readily don't have access to taking apart either watch just to prove in fact what movement is in there, I could tell you that the movement in the BR01-92 makes a loud winding noise when you attempt to wind the crown and ticks very loudly. A simple "jiggle" of the wrist spins the rotor very rapidly. I would not be surprised if it were equipped a 21J movement. Sure sounds like it.

The BR01-97, on the other hand is a quiet runner as when placed to the ear makes a faint ticking noise. The winding of the crown and the rotor spin both sound smooth, as if those parts were properly lubricated. I was very surprised to see that the power reserve indicator DOES INDEED function and through winging of the crown and/or rotor spins cause the indiciator for change its' charge level. I left it idle for 12 hours just to see if the watch was bluffing, but by the morning PR indicator dwindled from 100% to about 75%. This would make me assume that it is capable for a 40+ hour reserve.

And just to correct dealer's claims of a 28,800vph movement, it's more like a 21,600vph movement (more pronounced stuttered sweep)

Flaws: (my favorite part)

BR01-92:

If my knowledge serves me correctly, there is no watch issued to RAID in this combination. Bear in mind that there were only 50 pieces issued. So that's obviously not a dealbreaker.

BR01-97:

The movement isn't an accurate copy of the ETA 2897. The datewheel is sunken in whereas it is flush on the gen and the PR indicator is slightly higher on the dial, closer to the hand stems. The appliques, although beautiful, when viewed within close range shows the poor QC that is apparent with all reps. The lume is crookedly applied. Additionally, the PR hand should be a "pointed" shape rather a straight line.

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Both models:

When reviewing my pictures, notice the low-quality screws used in putting together the case, when any simple movement using a screwdriver will chip away at the screw. You'll also noticed that it also may not be centered perfectly; but that is only visible when viewed close-up.

The rep is crafted from a single block of steel whereas the gen is comprised of multiple parts. You'll see that on the backside of the gen, there are four hex-key screws. Those hold the lugs.

The rubber strap included with the rep watches are quality straps, but there they fall short as the edges of the rubber obviously show some cutting into the area. But I am glad to say that it is very comfortable and does not attract dust like the rep Panerai rubbers.

AR is great in most lighting conditions, but it doesn't make the crystal completely "disappear" like on the gen.

And AFAIK, Rubber straps only come stock with the BR01-94 Ti / SE's and BR01-92 limited editions. The majority of their models come with the calf leather and nylon velcro strap.

Overall impressions:

The Bell & Ross reps are finally the correct size. They finally are decent-looking. They finally corrected some of the flaws that were apparent when they first came around two years ago. It no longer says "MILIARY". It no longer has the short and thin seconds anchor. The dial font is correct. Although the lume sucks, it still passes muster. And the quality of watch that is apparent here is that it is definitely a looker besides it being humongous (this coming from a Super Avenger owner), but it also being unique in appearance.

Because of the simplicity of the design of the BR01 series, these models will easily pass most people's scrutiny (except mine and yours). But I do know one thing, though. These B&R reps are beautiful and have only caused me to purchase a gen as soon as my AD has it available. Either that or the Phantom.

More pictures:

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thanks for the reviews anton -- nice writeup & pictures. i'm pretty much sold on picking up one of the new 42mm versions w/ date (i can't imagine wearing a 46mm square watch). i'm curious -- how big is your wrist?

regards,

deltatahoe

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