Introducing the new limited edition from Bell & Ross BR 03-92 MA-1: a streamlined take on Bell & Ross’ purest pilot watch, with subtly deployed details paying tribute to the US Air Force’s now-legendary MA-1 flight or ‘bomber’ jacket of 1958. Encased in dark-khaki ceramic, with a sandwich dial stenciled to reveal the orange luminescent beneath, plus reversible khaki/orange calfskin strap, this is a watch that – like the jacket – rewards the wearer with military know-how.
Bell & Ross’ designers have drawn from the US Air Force’s adoption of colored nylon and ergonomic sculpting in the Fifties, launching a version of its self-winding aviator watch more stylistically dynamic than ever
Like Bell & Ross’ professional watches, the MA-1 flight jacket answered a critical brief in a highly functional way – its sharp aesthetic was a form that simply followed. The widespread adoption of jet aircraft in the Fifties meant that altitudes went higher and therefore much colder. Streamlining and an explosion in avionics also meant that cockpits were more compact. Military pilots’ bulky fleece-lined leather jackets of old, liable to freezing uncomfortably in-flight needed to be upgraded fast. Nylon was the alternative which is appropriate as up until then, nearly all production of the polyamide fiber had been devoted to parachutes and parachute cords during WWII. In the Fifties, the US Air Force’s outfitters could finally harness the lightweight, tough, water-resistant characteristics of nylon, insulated by polyester and trimmed with stretchable wool collar and cuffs.
The MA-1 was reversible too, so its bright-orange lining could serve as a wearable beacon while a downed pilot was waiting for Search and Rescue. The jacket then had a resurgence in the 1970s, becoming a style icon.
The synergies of Bell & Ross’ 999-piece BR 03-92 MA-1 start with its jacket – not nylon, but similarly lightweight and scratchproof ceramic, continuing across the dial. The khaki coloration serves as a stealthy foil to the stenciled-out orange numerals – luminescent for night flights.
The ceramic reaches this color when it is still at the oxide powder stage adding a pigment before the crystalline structure is made, creating this shade of dark khaki the at the earliest stage of development. The dial is formed by two superimposing metal plates with a sandwich construction. The upper section is cut away around the numerals and indices, revealing the photoluminescent coating covering the lower plate.
Like the jacket, the khaki calfskin leather strap of the BR 03-92 MA-1 is not only lined in orange but is also instantly reversible. Even the stitching is in dark khaki to be completely camouflage, in contrast with the orange detail that is kept hidden underneath – this ensures the function of the underside of the strap is a secret to everyone but the wearer.
BR 03-92 MA-1 is limited to 999 pieces and pricing at 139,650 THB.