Hands-on: Bell & Ross BR 03-92 diver

Bronze or matte black ceramic.

The BR 03-92 Diver was launched with a steel shell two years ago, bringing Bell & Ross (B&R)’s iconic aviation-inspired design to the sea. This is a suitable diving watch that combines the iconic square case with a depth rating of 300m and a rotating bezel.

B&R launched two new versions of BR 03-92 Diver at this year’s Basel Watch Fair, which are bronze and matte black ceramic cases. Although they are basically the same, they are quite different in appearance and feel.

The road to the abyss
But first a quick review of B&R’s past dive watches. Although the brand is now known for military aviation watches, B&R has begun to manufacture watches (essentially renamed Sinn timepieces) for professionals in various fields (from bomb disposal engineers to deep sea divers).

One of its earliest diving watches was the 1997 Hydromax (also known as Hydro Challenger). This is a compact round watch with a quartz movement and a ridiculous depth rating of 11,100m, thanks to the transparent fluorinated oil in the case. It is not compressible.

Ten years later, the brand began to produce its own watches and launched the BR 02, a tonneau-shaped diving watch with a rated depth of 1000m, a rotating bezel and a helium escape valve inside. Then came the BR 03-92, which was launched in 2017, which is the most logical way to express a dive watch, for a brand that is mainly driven by military-inspired designs.

Crucially, a true square case is inherently more difficult to seal against water, because its shape means that the case cannot be tightened.

A simple way out is a square case with a round back cover, but B&R keeps it square and achieves a waterproof performance of 300m by strengthening the crystal and case back cover, making the case thicker than the standard BR 03-92. Therefore, the thickness of the sapphire crystal is 2.85 mm, compared to 1.8 mm for the regular BR 03-92, and the back cover is 2.8 mm.

The unidirectional bezel is located above the dial and extends above the edge of the square case, enough to provide enough grip. The unidirectional bezel conceals part of the crystal thickness.

BR 03-92 divers also have a unique crown guard, with the word “LOCK” and an arrow indicating the direction to tighten the crown. Both are unnecessary, but small enough to be unobtrusive. The crown is coated with a rubber coating to provide better grip and make the bezel and crown tactile and practical.

The BR 03-92 Diver Green bronze case is made of brushed CuSn8 or phosphor bronze. This alloy consists of 92% copper and 8% tin. It is the same alloy used in the Panerai submersible Bronzo shell, and has a reddish tint due to its high copper content.

Compared with the aluminum-based bronze alloy used in Tudor Black Bay Bronze, phosphor bronze oxidizes more violently and forms patina over time, which is a sunken sapphire green.

And because the bronze color can cause skin irritation when worn for a long time, the back cover of the watch is made of stainless steel.

Bronze divers have a khaki green dial-a common match with bronze, but very handsome. It has a classic dive watch design with dot indexes and elongated quarter marks, which are gilded and filled with Super Luminova.

Unlike the bronze BR 03-92 diver made for Singapore retailer Cortina Watch last year, the new diver’s dial matches the anodized aluminum bezel and has a more distinctive appearance.

And black ceramic
Although the bronze version fits the convenient style formula, the second iteration of the diver is all black frosted ceramic, which is extremely powerful and no nonsense.

B&R has established a relationship with Chanel and has been producing ceramic watches for many years. This French fashion company owns a majority stake in B&R and G&FChâtelain, the latter is the case and bracelet manufacturer of La Chaux-de-Fonds, which is responsible for one of the most distinctive ceramic cheap watches in the watchmaking industry, the Chanel J12, and Fancy watch boxes like MB&F.

The appearance is reminiscent of B&R’s basic but effective pilot watches, as well as early timepieces produced for the French military and police forces.

It is worth noting that, unlike other BR 03-92 divers before it, the bezel is also made of ceramic, making it the coolest version of the square diving watch so far.

In addition, contrary to the bronze version, the hour hand is different from the minute hand, as is the case with some long-established military-spec diving watches.

The hour hand is filled with orange Super-Luminova, which is less visible at depth-green and black at a depth of 20m, while the minute hand is filled with white “chimneys”. This means that the number of minutes is different from the number of hours, and it is clearer underwater, which makes sense because the number of minutes elapsed is more important to the diver.

The ceramic case measures 42mm x 42mm and is held together by screws that span the height of the case. This explains why the screws are perfectly aligned. They are nuts, fixed by actual screws visible on the back cover. The case of the bronze diver has the same structure.

Although the case has been carefully designed, the movement is still the ordinary BR-CAL.302, the Sellita SW300. It is a replica of ETA 2892, a basic and sturdy movement, easy to repair, but the disadvantage is a short-term power reserve of 38 hours.

But it is located in a Faraday cage, which is basically a soft iron cover that can protect it from magnetic fields up to 80,000 A/m, which far exceeds the ISO 6425 standard of 4800 A/m.

Concluding thoughts

BR 03-92 Diver is a sturdy diver’s watch, presented with the unparalleled square appearance of Bell & Ross, and will not lose any diver’s watch functions.

Although the bronze version usually looks beautiful, the matte black ceramic version is a competitor for form following function, and is undoubtedly the most eye-catching version to date.

The concept of mixing a round elapsed time bezel with a square case may feel compelled by the combination of case materials, but the uniformity of the all-black ceramic diving Discount cheap watches makes it look like a single, integrated And harmonious design.

Important facts
BR 03-92 Diver Black Matte

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 9.8mm
Material: matt black ceramic
Water resistance: 300m

Movement: Automatic BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300)
Frequency: 28,800bph or 4Hz
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: black braided rubber with black synthetic fiber strap

BR 03-92 diver bronze

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 9.8mm
Material: CuSn8 bronze, steel bottom cover
Water resistance: 300m

Movement: Automatic BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300)
Frequency: 28,800bph or 4Hz
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Khaki calfskin and additional black rubber strap