Carlos Rosillo

One of the Owners of the Bell & Ross Watch Company


 Interviewer: Michael Disher @ TimeZone.com

February, 2000

 
 
 

The following is an e-mail interview conducted in February, 2000 by Michael Disher of TimeZone and Carlos Rosillo (“CR”), one of the owners of the Bell & Ross watch company.







MD:  Michael Disher – TimeZone.com
CR:  Carlos Rosillo


MD:   Tell us about the history of Bell & Ross.

CR:   The Bell & Ross story involves designers specialising in watchmaking and manufacturers of on-board timepieces for the aeronautics and space industries. Originally manufacturing purely for the professional and military markets, it was only in 1994 that Bell & Ross began marketing its French designed, Swiss made products to the general public.


MD:   Does Bell & Ross hold any patents?

CR:   Today, Bell & Ross own several patents:


  • water-resistance indicator: a metallic capsule screwed into the lower left tip of the chronograph, containing 7mg of copper sulphate which controls and absorbs any humidity liable to damage the mechanism. Any change in colour observed in this capsule indicates to the user that the water-tightness of his watch requires attention.
  • the hydro system: use of liquid silicon in the watch case for perfect water-tightness and perfect readability.
  • the T-crown system: the crown is screw-in, telescopic and collapsible, meaning that the crown can be perfectly integrated into the thickness of the case.

MD:   What is the relationship between Sinn and Bell & Ross?

CR:   The relationship between Sinn and Bell & Ross is today a collaborative agreement. Sinn is, in fact, one of our assemblers.


MD:   Is Bell & Ross now producing watches that are unrelated to Sinn?

CR:   Today Bell & Ross produce various models themselves:


  • The Space 3 collection
  • The Vintage collection

MD:   What is you own background? How did you get into the watch business?

CR:   After an MBA in Paris (HEC) and in strategy consultancy, I entered the watchmaking business out of sheer passion for the job.


MD:   Are you a watch collector?

CR:   Yes, I collect all kinds of watches, from the oldest to the most modern designs. I collect old models of Jaeger- Lecoultre, Omega and Rolex watches. I also own Ventura and Swatch watches.


MD:   Tell us about the development of the Hydro Challenger.

CR:   The creation of the hydro was the result of the following question: how could one improve the readability of a watch under water?


MD:   Can you describe the use of silicone in the Hydro Challenger?

CR:   The hydro 11100M watch is a direct application of the physical principle by which all liquids are incompressible. By introducing silicon into this watch we have obtained record-breaking water-tightness (1110 atm. i.e. 11,100 metres) but also incomparable readability, the suppression of the mirror-effect under water, silent running which is unique for a quartz watch and extremely hardwearing.


MD:   Tell us about the development of the Space One, Two and Three. Did that involve working with any pilots, astronauts or space agencies?

CR:   The creation of the space 1, 2 and 3 watches is the result of close collaboration between engineers, watchmakers and users. With regard more specifically to the Space 3, Bell & Ross used the efficiency of CATIA software. This software, developed by Dassault aeronautics for aeronautical design, offers a 3D representation of the prototype being studied, as well as its reactions to various simulations.


MD:   What special considerations are there when developing a watch for use in space?

CR:   In order to optimise the use of a watch in space, Bell & Ross have re-edited the Space 1, which was the first self-winding timepiece worn in space. More recently, and in order to avoid any risk of shock to buttons or the crown, Bell & Ross have developed a system of telescopic crowns for the Space 3 known as the “T-Crown system”, as well as buttons which are completely integrated into the case.


MD:   How many space missions have Bell & Ross watches been on?

CR:   The Space 1 accompanied Reinhart Frrer, the German astronaut, on the Spacelab mission in 1983.


MD: What special considerations went into the development of the Bomb Squad?

CR:   At the request of the French civil defence bomb squad, Bell & Ross developed the bomb squad expert’s watch based on extremely precise specifications. Because of its usage, this watch has reliability and functional characteristics, which meet the demands of these operations:


  • easy-to-read dial
  • tritium at 6h. and 12h.
  • graduated bezel for operations
  • anti-magnetic and a-magnetic case

MD:   Does B & R supply these watches to any police department or bomb disposal squads?

CR:   This watch is now used by the French civil defence bomb squad.


MD:   Did you work with NATO Pilots in developing the Military M-1?

CR:   The M1 was designed according to the specifications of the German army. All the technical and functional characteristics meet D.I.N. (Deutsche Industry Norm) standards.


MD:   What was the inspiration for the B&R Vintage collection?

CR:   In order to offer a larger range of designs to Bell & Ross enthusiasts, we have developed the Vintage collection. These fifties-style watches resemble the meters used on aircraft control panels, whilst respecting the brand’s design and manufacturing principles.


MD:   Do you feel the Vintage watches represent a move away from professional or technical watches, toward a more casual or dress watch?

CR:   The Vintage collection is not a turning point compared with the technical watches collection. Quite simply, this new range means that we meet the demands of our customers who wish to wear a Bell & Ross watch more easily, on an everyday basis, whilst retaining the characteristics of reliability, design and manufacture of professional watches.


MD:   What movements does B&R use?

CR:   Bell & Ross, like the vast majority of watchmaking companies, purchases a movement base which is then re-worked in our workshops in terms of precision, appearance and function, in order to offer the watch its own complexity.

E.g. Vintage 126 movement: basic chronograph Valjoux 7750 movement with improvements. Removal of the counter positioned at 6H. Minute counter shifted to 9h. using a 3-wheel bridge. The date is at 5h, etc.

MD:   Are there any movements used by B&R that are exclusive to B&R?

CR:   The specific characteristics of certain movements are reserved for Bell & Ross (Space 3 GMT 24h, Vintage 126). Some movements can be found in Frank Mueller and GP watches.


MD:   How many watches does B&R produce annually?

CR:Our annual watch production is higher than that of Brguet and lower than that of Tag Heuer!!! We keep these figures confidential.


MD:   What is B&R’s philosophy?

CR:   At Bell & Ross, marketing accompanies design and never precedes it. The design principles for a model are always chosen in order to meet the expectations of our users: readability, function, precision and water-tightness.


MD:   Is there one watch you feel best reflects that philosophy?

CR:   The Vintage 123 for its simplicity.


MD:   What do you feel distinguishes B&R in a crowded marketplace?

CR:   What makes Bell & Ross stand out from other brands on the watch market is their coherence and their difference. Today our collection also includes a classic range and an extremely futuristic range.


MD:   Do you feel the future of the mechanical watch is safe?

CR:   Watchmaking combines precision craftsmanship and new technology. I believe, therefore, that today these two aspects can preserve the mechanical watch market whilst leaving a good share to quartz watches if the end-use of the watch so requires.


MD:   How do you see the internet affecting the watch industry?

CR:   We are extremely interested by the potential of Internet. This media is very important, a fact, which we observe on a daily basis, since our site receives over 200 visits per day. However, final decisions have not yet been taken and I believe that we will lean towards the development of a selective network.


MD:   Do you ever visit TimeZone?

CR:   TimeZone is amongst my top 5.


MD:   What do you think of it?

CR:   TimeZone is a site for lovers of beautiful watches, with a real forum and lots of ideas with no commercial aim and that’s what we find interesting.


MD:   Do you have any new watches coming out that you might be able to tell us about?

CR:   See you in Basel!


 
 

 
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