Several brands have unveiled watches with sapphire cases in the past few years. But The renowned French watchmaker Bell & Ross is taking the challenge of transparency a step further, with the new BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire. The case is cut out of 5 blocks of pure Corindon, the physical name of Sapphire and Ruby. The Corindon is the second hardest material on earth, after diamonds. Almost impossible to scratch. The Sapphire used for BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire is pure to 99.997%.
Cutting a watch case from a solid block of sapphire is an extremely long and difficult process. It takes several days to produce the five components for one single watch. The case is actually cut out of 9 blocks of sapphire: middle piece, back, top, crystal and four bumpers, assembled with screws. The complexity of the case construction is not only a technical mastership challenge but also a way to enhance the protection of the watch. The unique design of the case with a lot of facets just like a gemstone magnifies the sapphire material. Light gets in the watch like in a Princess-cut diamond, reflexes on the facets and gets back out with incredible glow.
The main plate and the bridges are designed with the X-Shape, iconic to the BRX1 family. The hour and minute hands are off-centered just above the extra-large barrel. The intermediate minute wheel has been calculated and produced specifically for the optimization of friction and tight tolerances. The shape of the teeth is then unique. This wheel is fitted with one ruby stone and rotates around a stainless-steel axle.
The flying tourbillon cage emerges from the movement, at the same level as the dial. Weight reduction of the main plate and bridges is achieved thanks to recesses cut wherever possible.
The recesses are finished with a heavy sandblasting whereas the surfaces are brushed and the angles fine ball blasted. Main plate and bridges are then covered with a grey Ruthenium galvanic treatment
The skeleton tourbillon cage is seeable from everywhere: top, side, back. Bell & Ross skeleton tourbillon movement (3Hz manually-wound BR-CAL.288 movement) is an achievement for a Haute Horlogerie watch maker.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire will be produced in a super limited run of just eight pieces, each of them priced at around $385,000.