3 Race-Ready Chronographs From The 2021 Bell & Ross Alpine F1 Collection

Formula 1 is an important sport for some watch brands. The reason is clear: Formula 1, as the pinnacle of motor racing, takes place on five continents, is televised in basically every country in the world, and attracts one of the largest global television and streaming audiences (probably right behind soccer).

Bell & Ross 2021 Alpine F1 chronographs: (L-R) BR V3-94 A521, BR 03-94 A521, and BR-X1 A521

Capitalizing on the exposure, Bell & Ross speeds to the finish line with its three 2021 Alpine F1 chronographs, the sixth such collection that the French brand has introduced since partnering with Renault Formula 1 in 2016. The Renault team rebranded as Alpine F1 in early 2021 in accordance with sweeping changes within the Renault group to place a sharper focus on its key brands. This includes elevating the Alpine brand, maker of the A110 sportscar.

The Alpine 521 F1 racing car

Both Bell & Ross and Renault are French and both have strong associations with sport, making for a natural exchange of shared values, high-performance technology, and attitude. As the Alpine F1 team has new livery that matches that of the French flag – red, white, and blue – so too do Bell & Ross’s 2021 Alpine F1-inspired watches.

The Alpine Formula 1 cars are powered by Renault E-Tech hybrid engines manufactured in Viry-Chatillon, France. While Bell & Ross’s “engines” (movements) are produced in Switzerland, it is hard to find better and more reliable calibers than these tried-and-tested workhorses.

So as we race toward the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi on December 12, 2021, let’s have a look at Bell & Ross’s three new chronographs celebrating Formula 1’s Alpine F1 team, which have also been worn throughout the season by the team’s staff.

Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521

Like all three watches in this set, the BR V3-94 A521 is named for the chassis of the Alpine F1 race car, the A521. As the chronograph is generally the go-to style of watch for racing enthusiasts, it is natural that all the timepieces here are also chronographs – and the BR V3 A521’s two-tone tachymeter scale even allows wearers to calculate the speed of the cars they are watching as they (hopefully) race to victory.

Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521 chronograph on the wrist

The V3 is the brand’s “round tool watch” and finds its roots in the Vintage collection. The dial’s typography here is different from the normal collection watches in that it sports an italics style meant to convey the feeling of speed inherent to Formula 1 racing. The bicompax chronograph counters recall the racing car’s wheel rims, while offering just the barest glimpse of the automatic movement underneath.

Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521 on steel bracelet

The counterweight of the chronograph’s blue second hand displays a stylized “A,” which stands for Alpine, while a miniature red, white, and blue flag at 6 o’clock recalls the French origins of Alpine as well as Bell & Ross. The watch comes on a choice of a perforated calfskin strap that is a bright blue on the underside or a stainless steel bracelet.

The Bell & Ross collection’s instrument-style watches are usually quite subtle in their subdued color schemes, and these black and blue colorways stay within that ideal even as they mirror the livery of the Formula 1 team they honor.

Among these three new watches, the BR V3-94 is the one for those who like their sporty watches a little more discreet. This is achieved by keeping the moderately sized case in its natural stainless steel color. While the BR V3-94 A521 is no shrinking violet, it’s relatively tame compared with its stablemates.

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Quick Facts Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521
Case: 43 mm, stainless steel, tachymeter scale on flange
Movement: automatic Caliber BR-CAL.301 (ETA 2894-2 base), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Limitation: 500 pieces
Price: $4,400/€3,990 on calfskin; $4,700/€4,300 on stainless steel bracelet

Bell & Ross BR 03-94 A521

Bell & Ross BR 03-94 A521 chronograph

The BR 03 is Bell & Ross’s icon, formed as it is by a circle within a square. And here in a natural stainless steel case with rotating black bezel, the BR 03-94 A521 offers a vibrant style that perfectly coincides with the vivacity of Formula 1 racing. I particularly like the crown details, which include a grained texture for easier gripping and a bright blue ring, while the black PVD-coated chronograph pushers are shaped like the paddles found on the steering wheels of racing cars.

Bell & Ross BR 03-94 A521

The dial carries this sense of racing spirit with black as the main background color – pleasingly including the date window at 6 o’clock – with splashes of white and blue. The hour and minute hands are white with inlaid Super-LumiNova, while the sweep chronograph second hand and 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock stand out in this year’s characteristic bright blue.

The ultra-sporty look of this chronograph is topped off by a perforated black rubber strap reinforced with resilient black synthetic textile.

Bell & Ross BR 03-94 A521 on the wrist

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Quick Facts Bell & Ross BR 03-94 A521
Case: 42 x 42 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber BR-CAL.301 (ETA 2894-2 base), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Limitation: 500 pieces
Price: $6,400/€5,900

Bell & Ross BR-X1 A521

Housed within a variation of the BR 03-94 case that still features the circle-within-a-square visuals, Bell & Ross describes the case of the BR-X1 A521 as a sophisticated experimental version. It is crafted in a multi-material structure comprising black PVD-coated titanium, ceramic, and rubber – materials that are also predominately used in Formula 1 cars. A rubber shell surrounds the case to protect it against impacts, much like a classic car bumper.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 A521

The bezel of the BR-X1 A521 is really interesting as it is divided into two distinct parts: a fixed titanium ring marked off with chronograph seconds and a rotating black PVD-coated aluminum ring marked with the words “time marker” and an arrow that allows the wearer to set a reference so that it may be used as a tachymeter or reminder.

The shape of the funky, interesting, flat pushers for the chronograph functions – also made of dual materials, in this case titanium coated with rubber for better gripping – is reminiscent of the paddle shifters found on the steering wheel of an F1 car.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 A521

The main focus of the BR-X1 A521, though, is the fascinating skeletonized dial, which reveals the inner workings of the chronograph movement from the front, including the unique X-shaped bridge of the modified movement. The movement has been coated black to retain the speed-filled feeling of live motorsports.

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Quick Facts Bell & Ross BR-X1 A521
Case: 45 x 45 mm, PVD-coated titanium, ceramic, and rubber, tachymeter scale on bezel
Movement: automatic Caliber BR-CAL.313 (ETA 2894-2 base), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Limitation: 50 pieces
Price: $21,500/€18,900

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