The Spirit of Motor Racing: BR V2-94 Bellytanker Bronze
In the quest for speed, motor racing is sometimes criticised for losing a pinch of soul in sacrificing everything on the altar of performance purism. That’s quite unfair. Reams of safety regulations and cutting edge technology squeezing racing advantage to the thousandth of a millisecond does not change the one constant, that danger is never less than a blink away. That said, racing is not all about the head and that likely explains why the race legends of former eras continue to tug at the petrolhead’s heartstrings. This emotional heartland of classic racing is where the BR V2-94 Bellytanker Bronze hails from. And Bell & Ross decided to case it in bronze in no small part due to the runaway success of an earlier bronze watch created in collaboration with The Rake and Revolution: last year’s Bell & Ross x The Rake and Revolution Bellytanker “El Mirage” chronograph in bronze.
“Bellytanker” comes from the racing scene of postwar America (more details, here) where hot rodders came up with the ingenious idea of converting drop tanks used by American warplanes to carry extra fuel under the fuselage/belly or wings during the Second World War (to reach Germany!), into chases for race cars. Already shaped for minimal drag, these blimp-shaped belly tanks were retrofitted with enough horsepower to blast about the salt flats at insane speeds above 150 mph (240 kph). Think mini-Mini on super-steroids with everything but the driver and the barest mechanicals, thrown out.
The BR V2-94 then, with its wet finger on this livewire of vintage racing chic, catches the light and eye with all the dark charisma of a Lotus 77. The satin/mirror bronze case will develop patina that gives the watch character, but just by a bit: Bell & Ross chose to use Aluminum Bronze, which develops very light patina to evoke vintage gold. The rest of the watch, from the stepped seconds track, slim markers to the colour and relative proportions of the dial elements, are typical Bell & Ross, in that they are measured, elegant and emotive.
A bronze chronograph that approximates gold while developing character without runaway patina, and channels old school drama and glamour of balls-to-the-wall racing in an age without driver aids and clutchless manuals; the bronze BR V2-94 in a limited edition of 999 pieces makes a tribute to living dangerously.
Movement BR-CAL.301 automatic chronograph
Case 41mm CuAI7Si2 bronze case; anodised aluminum bezel insert with tachymeter; screw-down crown and pushers; sapphire caseback; water resistant to 100m
Strap Black calfskin leather with CuAI7Si2 bronze buckle