A multifaceted, multiverse and multi-talented timepiece.
Bell & Ross’s contribution to the Only Watch foundation adopts the form of their BR 01 Cyber Skull model: presenting the BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire.
Only Watch Charity Auction
Enthralling the likes of philanthropists and collectors, Only Watch is a biennial charity event involving wondrous and truly rare items from various brands. 99% of proceeds goes to the Monegasque Association against Muscular dystrophy (AMM), dedicating resources to the scientific and medical research towards Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
Standing with the cause, aesthete and mavens of Haute Horlogerie has made generous contributions since Only Watch initiated in 2005.
A notable concept that accompanies the BR 01 collection is the visage of a skull. An accepted sign of death, the skull carries a philosophical meaning as it symbolizes the fragility and brevity of life, particularly in vanitas works of art.
Memento mori recalls the gruesome depictions seen in ancient paintings, as well as in curiosity cabinets owned by humanists from the Enlightenment.
Inspired by this genre, Bell & Ross had indeed developed a lasting tradition of horology pieces adopting the appearance.
The Sapphire Case
For Only Watch 2021, Bell & Ross used sapphire as its core for the bespoke BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire. A high-quality material made of corundum; the material is an oxide of alumina (Al2O3) that has taken millions of years to transpire in nature. Bell & Ross worked on clear patina and elegant transparency to their fullest potential, achieving a precious timepiece that wraps the entirety of the case and decoration in sapphire. The sapphire case is machined from three blocks of sapphire, with the skull dial machined from six blocks.
Compounded by the brute force of the material, the aesthetic force of the timepiece merges technologies together. Machined by grinding using diamond powder meant the facets could be resurfaced, in the same way jewelers cut a precious stone.
Sculpted Like a Precious Gem
The Only Watch novelty BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire fits in perfectly with this style. It is characterized by the stylized and angular treatment of the skull on its dial. Every element of the watch, case, crown, skull, and crossbones are structured within the many faces that sculpts the surfaces, presenting a watch with volumes and an allusion of a 3D image. Futuristic origami? Memento mori 2.0? New cameo by a cyborg? The timepieces’ sharp edges offer a fascinating play on the multiplication of perspectives between flat and smooth surfaces.
The geometric shapes of the timepiece create a pixilation effect, coming into sight when the points of an image become clear. This provides the inspiration for the angular representation of the skull and the femur bones on the dial.
For this one-of-a-kind BR 01 concept skull, Bell & Ross metallized the sapphire skull dial on the back of the watch, bringing out the orange color on the front. Orange is the ultimate color for aeronautical instrumentation due to its high level of legibility and capacity to make essential information stand out from contrast. The color is also the emblematic color code of the Only Watch auction. The back of the watch also features a special engraving dedicated to the auction.
Behind its provocative, symbolic, and artistic face, the BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire hides the secrets of an automaton watch belonging to the world of Haute Horlogerie.
The timepiece adopts the in-house manufactured hand-wound mechanical calibre – BR-CAL.209. While the mobiles consist of 21 jewels, the balance benefits from an Inca bloc-type shock-absorbing system. Bell & Ross also worked on the skeletonization of the main plate and bridges to reveal the essential. With the rhodium-plated movement, polished chamfers, velvet sanded hollows, hand- drawn strokes decorations, the stunning timepiece proves a creation with highly sophisticated finishing.
Only perfect mastery of the operation of a mechanical movement could, in reality, conceal the BR-CAL 209 under the faceted decoration. The main plate closely resembles the shape of the skull, all the while extending up to the four corners of the case, underneath the femurs. With it centrally fixed on the case, it provides the allusion that the skull is floating weightlessly inside the case. An impression which is enhanced by the total transparency of the dial, 12 baton-shaped indices are engraved under the crystal. The complete clarity of the watch reveals the key to the mystery through the Skull.
The automaton movement activates the jaw which opens and appears to snigger when winding-up the spring. Behind the mandible, the hidden barrel is discovered when the skull grins back at you. Once the brain of the skull comes to life, the anthracite balance wheel reveals its oscillations. The beating of the same serves as a reminder of the watch’s mechanical heart.
At 43.4 mm at length and 45 mm in width, the BR 01 Cyber Skull completes the look with a translucent rubber strap and a satin-polished steel pin buckle.
Only Watch kicks off with a world tour in Monaco on 22nd September 2021. The 9th edition of Only Watch is supported by 55 contributing brands and various partners. The 2021 auction is due to take place on 6th November at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues, Geneva.
More information on the event and its 2021 assemblage can be found on the Only Watch platform.