Skull from the Sky: Bell & Ross BR01 Tourbillon Airborne Limited Edition Watch

No doubt that Bell & Ross’s newest high-luxury watch is a bit creepy. In all black, with a prominent expressive skull, the timepiece is not for the light of heart. An item of art, and a conversation piece about the brand’s character, the watch is best served to argue against Bell & Ross’s seemingly conservative nature as a brand that only makes instrument style watches.

The BR01 Tourbillon Airborne is item borne of two inspirations. First is the BR01 Airborne watch, released not long ago, and meant as a tribute to the American Army’s airborne division of paratroopers. It shocked onlookers with its skull and crossbones style dial and sword hands as set in a BR01 case. Second is the BR01 Tourbillon watch, which is the source of the movement that the BR01 Tourbillon Airborne contains.

Watch lovers ‘in the know’ recall that Bell & Ross worked with now defunct high-end movement maker BNB Concept to conceive the interesting movement used in this watch. Bell & Ross seems to have had a few extra of these high-end movements available, and decided that BNB Concept would have likely wanted them used in new watches. This helps explain the highly limited number in this edition of just 20 pieces. The manually wound tourbillon movement is a more playful item than its appearance might have you believe. Functionally it has a tourbillon (which doubles as a subsidiary seconds dial), regulator style time display with a subsidiary hours indicator that uses the skull as a dial and the central hand for the minutes, a power reserve indicator (movement has a max of five days of power reserve), and a “trust” indicator. The latter indicator actually being a torque indicator, which assists the wearer know when the movement is most accurate based upon the tautness of the mainspring that powers the mechanical watch. As a spring gets wound tighter, or is almost totally unwound, it releases a level of power much different from its middle range. Thus, by looking at the Trust index, and keeping mainspring barrel in a moderately wound state, you can keep the watch at its most accurate. Just one of the interesting features BNB Concept movements were known for.

Done in all black, the watch is in a 46mm wide titanium case that has been diamond like carbon (DLC) coated. It is 100 meters water resistant and has a sapphire crystal over the dial as well as the caseback (for a view to the movement plate). Bell & Ross matches the Tourbillon Airborne with a black galuchat (stingray) strap, as it has done in the past with black diamond decorated versions of the BR01 Airborne watch that I mentioned above. A unique treat, the watch is a good reminder for Bell & Ross owners all over the world of the designs the French brand is willing to play with. And for 20 special people, the watch will do double duty to amuse adults, and scare small children. Priced at $150,000 each.


  1. 46-mm wide titanium case with DLC coating
  2. Regulator style time display
  3. Tourbillon escapement doubles as seconds hand
  4. Power reserve indicator for movement
  5. Torque “Trust” indicator for movement accuracy

Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site

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