REVIEW: Hands On With The Bell & Ross Diver Black & Green Bronze

by Matt Clymo

We go hands on with the Bell & Ross Diver Bronze and see how the new Black & Green colourway fairs, not to mention what the patina is like!

What We Love

  • The gold hue of the bronze case
  • The matte green dial is silky smooth
  • Completely different look to most other watches on the market

What We Don’t

  • The strap is a little bulky for my liking
  • The date window could be slightly larger
  • The bronze patinas quickly

Overall Rating: 8.625/10

  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Wearability: 8/10
  • Design: 8.5/10
  • Build quality: 9/10

My first proper Hands On experience with Bell & Ross was with the Cyber Ceramic we reviewed in March this year. If you read the review (and if you haven’t, click the link and give it a read first, I’ll wait!) you’ll probably note that I wasn’t too sure on how I’d feel about an all black, square-shaped watch on my wrist. After all, I’m not that much into fully blacked-out pieces nor do I have a love for square-shaped watches. I’ve nothing against them at all, it’s just not my style…normally! But the Cyber Ceramic changed this, as after having it on my wrist for a week or more, I came to love the piece for what it was and quietly, liked having a watch on my wrist that was completely different to most other pieces out there, and not something you’ll see in the wild all that often.

You’ll also note I mentioned that the watch I originally wanted to receive for the review was the recently released Diver Black & Green Bronze. Mostly for personal reasons – I wanted to see how I felt about a bronze watch on my wrist, not to mention a square colourful piece. Luckily, the wonderful people at Bell & Ross Australia came through and sent the new Bronze diver, which I was keen to get on my wrist.

The Bell & Ross Diver Black & Green Bronze

First Impressions

Bronze watches have always intrigued me, and personally, I’ve always been in two minds with them. I love the look when brand new – the golden bronze looks so clean and warm and looks great on the wrist. But then as it patinas over time, they lose their lustre and for me, their appealing look. Thankfully with a quick bath or polish, you can bring them back to new pretty easily. Looking at the Bell & Ross Diver Black and Green Bronze, the new look is fantastic with a bright golden bronze that is a little reminiscent of a subtle yellow gold.

The other thing that first sticks out for me is the green dial. It’s more a teal colour than a pure green, which done in a matte style works well with the bronze case, and the applied indices with a gloss black outline really stand out on it. It’s different but in a good way.

My first impressions: I’m liking what I see!

RELATED READING: HANDS ON WITH THE BELL & ROSS CYBER CERAMIC

The Design

Bell & Ross has an instantly recognisable design. The Square Circle that is common across all their Instruments range is now iconic for the brand, and one based on the instrument panel of old fighter planes which has extended through the BR-03 range. Whilst a square watch isn’t the obvious first choice for a dive watch, it somehow works on the Diver Black & Green Bronze.

Being a dive watch, Bell & Ross has equipped the piece with a uni-directional rotating bezel, highly legible hands and indices and a 300m water resistance rating to ensure it is ISO 6425 compliant, officially being able to call this a Dive Watch. For me, the dial is really well done – the shade of teal makes the hands and indices stand out and the way Bell & Ross has designed the dial to be somewhere between a matte and gloss is almost a silky look and texture. Going one step further, Bell & Ross has done the hands in a gloss black, so they stand out on the dial and enhance the overall look of it.

The gloss black seconds hand adds to the smooth texture look of the dial.

The applied indices are a great size, allowing for maximum legibility in both the light at dark, and adding to my point above, they’ve given these generous amounts of Super-Luminova surrounded by a glossy black. The 3D effect is one thing that instantly stands out and I like on this piece. The date window on the dial is situated at 4:30, which is a little polarising for people – you either hate it or you don’t care. I fall into the latter as I’d prefer a date to no date. However, on the Diver Black & Green Bronze, it is on the smaller side and could have been made a little bigger so you can read it better at a glance. This sizing is mainly because Bell & Ross has sized it to be the same as the marker indices, so credit there to them for a sense of balance. It is colour-matched to the dial, so it blends in and doesn’t detract from the dial’s aesthetics at all. This is a big tick!

The case as you’ve already worked out is bronze, and out of the box, the bronze is a nice golden colour, thanks to the mix of Copper and Tin (92% / 8%) Bell & Ross uses to create the bronze material in the watch. Wearing the piece around for almost 2 weeks, I did see the case start to patina in certain areas, which was faster than I had thought it would. But whilst it didn’t have the shiny lustre of being brand new, it did pick up a warmth you hear people who love bronze watches talk about all the time.

The golden bronze of the Bell & Ross Diver with some hints of patina starting to form

No one like to get a green wrist, so like most bronze watches, Bell & Ross has given the Diver Black & Green Bronze a solid steel case back, complete with a vintage dive helmet in positive relief – a nod to the old bronze diving helmets that were used almost a century ago. Adding to this, a wave pattern runs across the inner case back signifying the water and purpose of the watch.

If the name didn’t give it away, the case back tells you this is a divers watch.

How It Wears

The one thing I discovered whilst road testing the Bell & Ross Cyber Ceramic was that square watches do wear pretty well if done right. The major factor is the lug width and how the case profile is designed. In the instance of the Diver Black & Green Bronze, it’s 42mm x 42mm with very angled down lugs, so the watch doesn’t feel too large across the wrist due to the strap coming straight down from the case itself.

Sometimes you just take the pic in the moment – the Bell & Ross Diver sits “squarely” on my 17.5cm wrist.

Having a flat case back helps with the fit as well, meaning there isn’t a raised circular case back to make it sit higher. With the profile of the watch, Bell & Ross has added the round bezel on top of the square case, so the overall appearance when looking down on the wrist is slimmer as your eyes are drawn to the square area more than the bezel. On a conventional round watch, the bezel would be in line with the case, adding to the perceived height of the watch.

When wearing the Bell & Ross, the eye is drawn to the main case and feels and wears slimmer by a few millimetres.

The rubber strap as mentioned drops down around the wrist thanks to the lug design and doesn’t add much extra to the lug-to-lug distance. The rubber is solid, which is what you want in a divers watch as the last thing you want is the watch slipping off the wrist on a dive. It does feel a little bulky on the wrist as it’s quite large at the case, but it quickly tapers away towards the end of the strap and buckle. So in this sense, it feels balanced. The design with the textured corrugations on the outside adds to the tool watch look of the watch, but it also ensures that the rubber bends easily and isn’t too stiff – so it’s done with both form and function in mind.

The tapered rubber strap fits under the wrist well, and the corrugations help bend around the wrist and also helps to grab the buckle to make it even more secure.

The bezel action is pretty sharp as well, which you would expect from a certified dive watch. The bezel has a solid, yet not too grabby 120-click action to help time those dives accurately, and the lumed pip at 12 o’clock, ensures this is the case. The knurling on the bezel is designed with gloves in mind, making it super easy to grip and turn, with no real fear of slipping doing it. One gripe I have with some dive watches is the bezel isn’t easy to grip and turn on dry land let alone with wet hands and in water. This again ticks another box for the Bell & Ross.

Side on, you can see the knurling is sharp and clean, and here, the angled down lugs allow it to sit flush on the wrist.

The Movement

Bell & Ross equips the Diver Black & Green Bronze with the BR-CAL.302. An automatic winding movement with approximately 54 hours of power reserve and quick set date. Whilst the base of this movement is a Sellita SW300, Bell & Ross heavily modify it at their Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds for the purposes of their pieces. What you get in this instance is a workhorse movement that’s tried and tested.

Adjusting the time to 10:10 on the BR-CAL.302.

The crown feels solid as well when unscrewing and pulling it out, which for a watch photographer is a fair bit! The way the crown feels when disengaged and changing the time I’ve discovered is telling of the movement and how it’s made. The tightness of the gears and the way the crown stem interacts with the crown wheel and ratchet wheel is telling based on the amount of ‘play’ when turning the crown. Whilst there is always going to be some give, or play back and forth when changing the time, the less it does this, the more accurately you can set the time.

I don’t advocate changing the time while the watch is on the wrist. But it makes for a good photo!

During my time wearing the Bell & Ross Diver Black & Green Bronze, I found the accuracy pretty well in line with other watches at this price point. Whilst there are no official accuracy certifications on the BR-CAL.302, setting it to a reference time it only lost about -2 seconds per day over a couple of days tracking it. This is well within the realms of acceptability here, and if the watch keeps to this over a longer period, then you’re not going to be phased by this at all – if you even notice it!

Final Thoughts

Whenever I get pieces for a hands on review, I always have preconceived ideas on the piece itself. Like what I may have thought about wearing square vs round watches as I mentioned at the start. Having had the Bell & Ross Diver Black & Green Bronze for around a fortnight, I opened my mind even further up to the idea of square pieces to be seen at some point on my wrist more often. With the Bell & Ross, the square case isn’t domineering like I thought it might be and adds something a little different to the design and the look of the piece compared to your conventional circular watches.

I love the look and feel of the bronze as well and over the time we had the watch, it did start to patina a bit and lose that shiny lustre that you get fresh out of the box. Whilst we couldn’t keep the piece much longer, I’d be keen to see how this progresses over a longer period of time, and if my liking of the material would fade with its lustre. I get the sense I would be bringing it back to life every month or so, which isn’t a bad thing as it ultimately adds another way you connect with the watch. And isn’t this what collecting is about?

Another benefit – the Bell & Ross can be used as a desk clock!

At a good mid-level price point of A$7,900, the Bell & Ross Diver represent good value for money. Bronze watches often don’t come cheap with many brands starting in the mid-teens or more. The Tudor Black Bay Bronze is probably the obvious competitor here coming in at A$6,640 on the leather or Nato strap. However, it’s more traditional and feels like a vintage divers watch, and is slightly larger at 43mm. It is COSC-certified, but you lose 100m worth of water resistance so it is not classified as a true dive watch and with the vintage style, lacks crown guards. So it’s a game of trade-offs here and comes down to personal style and if you want a Divers watch or a diver-styled piece in the Tudor. Personally, they are very different pieces, and having both in the collection wouldn’t look out of place or like you’ve doubled up in my opinion.

All in all, wearing the Bell & Ross Diver Black & Green Bronze was a great experience, and was nice to have something different on the wrist to change it up a little. It’s also made me consider something like this in the future should I want to give my wrists a break from more classic round-styled watches.

Reference: BR0392-D-LT-BR/SRB – Limited to 999 pieces

Specification:

  • Size: 42mm x 42mm
  • Case: Satin-finished and polished bronze. Unidirectional rotating solid bronze bezel with 60-minute scale and brown anodised aluminium ring. Screw-down crown & crown guard.
  • Movement: Automatic mechanical Calibre BR-CAL.302. Beating at 4Hz and pivoting on 25 jewels
  • Power reserve: 54hrs
  • Water resistance: 30 bar (300 meters)
  • Crystal: Sapphire with Anti-reflective coating
  • Case back: Steel case-back.
  • Strap: Black rubber strap with bronze pin buckle & Black fabric Nato. Strap tools included.

Australian Recommended Retail Pricing: A$7,900

Availability: Available now from all authorised dealers, Bell & Ross Boutiques or online from bellross.com

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