A Closer Look at the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire for Only Watch

by Katherine Arteche
20 Oct 2021

We speak with CEO Carlos Rosillo about the sacred skull motif of the BR 01 and the unique timepiece they’ve created for the Only Watch bi-annual charity auction.

The Only Watch biennial charity auction returns this year for its ninth edition, with participation from 54 brands and watchmakers who have each put forward a unique timepiece up for auction, where proceeds are contributed towards research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The collection has been on a global tour, making stops in Monaco, Dubai, Tokyo, and now currently in Singapore at Malmaison by The Hour Glass. It will thereafter make one more stop in Hong Kong before circling back to Geneva, where auction house Christie’s will host at Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues on November 6.

We summarised a few highlight pieces in an earlier post here, among which included the Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire Only Watch. The first thing that catches your eye is the very faceted, orange skull that peers through that clear sapphire case.

Winding the watch enables a little automaton action that causes the jaws to move, simultaneously exposing the movement at work. Bell & Ross CEO Carlos Rosillo shares the creative process on this pièce unique and the importance of the skull in the BR 01 model.

Besides orange being the colour motif of this year’s theme, what was the intention to give this watch a brighter palette? 
For this bespoke version of the CYBER SKULL, the orange color is used to provide its owner with a unique piece for its wrist. Made of transparent sapphire, the Skull dial was metallized on the back that has a smooth side to give this orange effect. 

Orange is also the color for aeronautical instrumentation due to its high level of legibility and capacity for contrast. 

The inclusion of the automaton skull is to present a different skull to the market.  The automaton pushes our boundaries for high-end watchmaking and creates a surprise when activated.

It is a showcase of workmanship and opens up a whole new Haute Horlogerie world for the brand, which is something we are leaning towards. 

The skull and crossbones motif has been a part of B&R’s identity for a long time now. The brand after all takes a lot of its inspiration from **** design. The skull emblem has been interpreted variously in different militaries — Jolly Roger for the English, Totenkopf for Germans, etc. 
Yes, that's right. The Skull has been interpreted in many ways. In Bell & Ross, it is a symbolism of courage, strength and exploration.

We broke traditional watchmaking codes when we first introduced the Skull on the BR 01 case, launching the first Skull watch. Since then, it has remained. Moreover, the manufactured movement is much more at home in this 46 mm case. It's the balance of proportions.

Today, the Skull we are seeing shares the same symbolism, but with more savoir-faire and high-end watchmaking techniques involved. 

Can you expand on the complexity level of working with sapphire crystal to give it its skull shape?
It has been machined by grinding using diamond powder, meaning the facets could be resurfaced in the same way jewelers cut a precious stone. The process is extremely thorough. It takes about a week to complete the work on all the elements of the case.

At last comes the polishing process that is also highly delicate and requires a very high level of know-how.

Bell & Ross has been supporting the charity for many years now. What does it mean for the brand to be involved in such causes?
Only Watch’s unwavering commitment to contribute to raise funds for the research into Duchenne Muscular Dytrophy is commendable. It has provided us with a platform to do something incredible for society. We have received so much fulfillment professionally and personally during our years of establishment, it’s only right to give back.