Triple tourbillons and a Vallée de Joux heritage have their place, but if you ask Bruno Belamich what it takes to start a watch brand, he would say a strong design aesthetic combined with a passion for aeronautics. Also: “courage, ambition, dedication, consistency, attention to detail and a clearly defined goal.” Bruno and his partner, businessman Carlos Rosillo, worked these ingredients into the Bell & Ross brand in 1992. The distinctive large case, instrumentation design theme and highly readable dials have since become instantly recognizable and have achieved cult status. The brand is a testament to the importance of design.
As a teenager, Bruno’s passion for aviation led to an interest in fine engineering and instrumentation, and from there a taste for functional design. This led him to the Paris industrial design school ENSCI, where the title of his final dissertation was, prophetically: “The launch of a watchmaking brand specializing in the production of functional watches for professional use.” By this time, Bruno was working for the German brand Sinn, known for its navigational watches and on-board instrumentation.
After two years of research and development, Belamich and Rossillo (shortened to Bell & Ross) introduced their first watches in 1994, in partnership with Sinn and sold under the label Bell & Ross by Sinn. “We created an extremely precise collection that immediately categorized us as a niche brand,” says Bruno. “In a way, it defined us as a brand that knows what it wants, with a clear objective and a solid collection with a distinct personality.”