Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum: The Little Details Are Lit!
by Martin Green
Sometimes it is good to start an article by tossing a proverbial rock into the pond: diver’s watches are rough, tough tool watches, and limited editions are made to cash in on a model’s popularity. The Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum is both, yet disproves these presumptions as I discovered from wearing this model for a while.
Details always make the difference
As I have said many times before, details make the difference. And at first, the details on this Bell & Ross are a bit under the radar. When I first saw the watch in real life, it looked somewhat blunt to me. This rapidly changed when I took a closer look.
With a few exceptions – like the WWI Heure Sautante – making tool-types of watches is what Bell & Ross has been doing for as long as it has existed. And it shows. While the BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum follows the aesthetic rules of a classic diving watch, it also subtly deviates from them.
First and foremost, in the signature Bell & Ross square case. And there’s more: the hour and minute hands have unique shapes, which is surprisingly effective in how I appreciate and perceive this watch. The date window wins a lot of kudos for me as the background is the same color as the dial. Some might argue that it doesn’t have any lume on it, but that is just taking pickiness too far; the visible surface of the date wheel is too small to get the full effect of the lume anyway.
A square watch measuring 42 mm in diameter means that it takes up a lot of horological real estate. This was another point that worried me at first, but the wearing comfort turned out to be much the same as that of a round watch with the same diameter.
There are three elements ensuring the comfort: the ceramic case, the relatively short lugs, and the rubber strap.
By making the case in ceramic Bell & Ross ensured that the watch is light. The owner can also enjoy the added advantages of the watch being the original black color of ceramic (in sharp contrast to a PVD coating, which chips or cracks more easily) and its natural hypoallergenic properties as well quickly taking on wrist the temperature (rarely feels warm or cold).
The lugs and the strap ensure that the watch sits very close to the skin all around the wrist. It doesn’t really wiggle when you move unless you purposefully leave a lot of space on the strap, and that makes it a comfortable partner no matter what activities you are doing.
Running with the light
“We were running with the night / Playing in the shadows / Just you and I till the morning light,” Lionel Richie sang on his Grammy award-winning 1983 album Can’t Slow Down (fun facts: Toto’s Steve Lukather played the electric guitar solo on this recording and Richard Marx sang backup vocals). And I find this to also be very apt for the BR 03-92 Diver.
This watch belongs to a rare breed of watches with a dial that is completely covered with luminous material. This sounds like fun, but you have no idea how much fun it is until you manage to enjoy the BR 03-92 Diver on a daily basis.
As the BR 03-92 Diver is generously covered with green Super-LumiNova, it lights up like a sports stadium! This is an effect that never ceases to amaze and always puts a smile on your face. You also get effects that you had never thought about before: sometimes part of the dial is covered by your sleeve, so that part doesn’t charge as much as the section that is in the sunlight. When you then go into low-light conditions, the BR 03-92 Diver becomes surprisingly like Batman’s enemy Two-Face as part of the dial shines bright, while the other is a much more understated glow.
The line between the two different effects is often quite sharp and you can even have some fun playing with it.
As the BR 03-92 is a diver’s watch, the dial is also a feature that is significantly appreciated underwater. Its extreme brightness makes it very easy to read the elapsed time, and a real benefit is that the dial doesn’t need to be exposed to light very long to give off a substantial glow for quite a long time.
There is no shortage of diver’s watches in the price range between €3,000 and €5,000.
The BR 03-92 Diver is powered by Caliber BR-CAL.302, the base of which is a relatively modest Sellita SW300-1. There is equally priced competition offering more elaborate movements (the current-generation Omega Seamaster comes to mind), which briefly made me wonder whether this movement is good enough.
After contemplation, the answer to that is a firm “not a problem.” My reasoning is that the BR 03-92 Diver is first and foremost a tool watch, where reliability is the greatest good. And for reliability, the Sellita SW300-1 is hard to beat: it’s a robust, reliable, precise movement that is relatively easy and inexpensive to service.
This Bell & Ross is also sensibly priced with its ceramic case (still quite rare for a diver’s watch), a keen feel for detail, and available in a limited edition of only 999 pieces. And there are no shortcuts: while many esteemed brands mark limited edition watches as, say, “one of 999,” Bell & Ross engraves an individual number into each case.
That might be a small thing, but it is the details that matter and also part of what makes the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum a genuinely enticing prospect.
For more information, please visit www.bellross.com/our-collections/Instruments/br-03-92-diver-watch/br-03-92-diver-c/BR-03-92-DIVER-FULL-LUM.
Quick Facts Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum
Case: 42 mm, black ceramic, unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel with 60-minute scale, 300-meter water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300-1 base) 42-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 999 pieces, individually numbered
* This article was first published on October 26, 2020 at Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum: The Little Details Are Lit!