French watchmaker Bell & Ross got its start when watch designers and “aeronautical control panel specialists” (the people who design instruments for airplane cockpits) teamed up to create a highly legible, ultra-tough watch for military pilots and others who work in extreme environments. Nearly 30 years later, aviation still exerts a strong influence on the company’s timepieces. That’s especially true with its GMT watches—a type of watch initially developed for jet pilots. The company’s latest GMT timepiece, BR 03-93 GMT, leans into that history with a new bi-directional bezel and an iconic black-and-red “Coke” colorway.
“Bell & Ross continues to strengthen its bond to the world of aviation with the BR 03-93 GMT,” says Men’s Journal fashion editor Kevin Breen. “While maintaining its iconic square shape, the new version focuses on function and legibility.”
The new bezel is a definite highlight on this watch. Unlike previous Bell & Ross GMT timepieces, the BR 03-93 combines a square case with a bi-directional rotating 24-hour bezel (in combination with a dedicated 24-hour hand, this allows the wearer to set and track time in multiple time zones at once). The black-and-red colorway is a nod to GMT history: The two-tone pattern is known as a “Coke” colorway, and it’s a hallmark of the famous Rolex GMT-Master and GMT-Master II watches.
There are plenty of references to aviation on this watch: The 42mm square case is an obvious one—its unique shape and exposed screws recall the design of the analog instruments found in all kinds of aircraft—and the black dial and white indices also reference the muted, utilitarian color patterns of aircraft dials and gauges. Even with the splash of red on the bezel and the 24-hour hand, it looks like it was pulled right out of a cockpit.
Like other Bell & Ross watches, the BR 03-93 was designed for maximum legibility and functionality. Large numerals stand out on the dial, and the hands and indices all feature a Super LumiNova coating for easy reading in the dark. The watch is capable of displaying three different time zones and the current date (a date window is located between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions). Knurling on the crown makes it easy to grip for quick time adjustments, and although water is usually something pilots try to avoid, the watch is also water resistant up to 100 meters, just in case.
It’s powered by an automatic movement for reliable timekeeping, and it comes with two band options: calfskin leather or a rugged synthetic fabric. Although one is definitely more refined than the other, both straps let the bold angles of the polished steel case shine.
“This watch is a beautiful option for the international traveler,” says Breen, “or for anyone with loved ones spread across the globe.”
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