Bell & Ross Turn Coordinator ¶
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Another year, and another series of Bell & Ross Instrument limited editions are out. It’s been a tradition for the company to release a new series of variations on the BR01 theme each season to renew interest in the ever-popular collection and give something for collectors to drool over. This year we had three new versions to look forward to, all paying homage to genuine aircraft instruments – the Horizon, the Altimeter, and the Turn Coordinator. The Horizon and Altimeter are forthcoming; in the meantime we have received the Turn Coordinator, a model that takes the disc-based time display of the Compass and Radar models and updates it for 2012.
The original Instrument limited editions were always different colour versions of the original BR01. As time went on, the company began offering more unique variations to renew interest in the line. The first major shift was the release of the Compass and Radar watches in 2010, both utilizing a unique concentric disc system to display the time. Taking an idea from the “mystery dial” watches and clocks that were popular before the 1970s, these watches displayed the time on a series of discs that occupied the whole space of the dial; in effect, the discs are the hands and the dial combined. The Compass used hour and minute scales read through an aperture with a single line at 12 oclock. The Radar displayed the hours, minutes and seconds with small luminescent batons that rotated around the dial, with the hour and minute indications printed on the underside of the crystal.
The Turn Coordinator takes the concept of the Compass and updates it for 2012. The Compass only had hours and minutes – the Turn Coordinator adds a seconds indicator and changes the style of the case and crystal. Instead of the machined case top with a sapphire aperture, the Coordinator has a full sized crystal with an instrument motif printed on it. It’s a busier design than the Compass, and truer to the original aircraft instrument, much like the Radar, Horizon and Altimeter models. It is a design that is hard to miss; this is a watch that stands apart from the crowd - at first glance it doesn’t look like a watch at all.
As you would expect the case and bracelet are traditional BR01 fare. As you would expect it has the corporate 46mm stainless steel case with black PVD “Carbon” coating. Like all BR01s it comes with two straps, a black rubber on a tang buckle and a black nylon with a Velcro closure. Unlike most BR01s it is limited to 999 pieces (same as the Red Radar, Horizon and Altimeter) and supplies are limited.
Reading the Turn Coordinator is straightforward, but takes a bit of getting used to. The time is read at the vertical line at 12 oclock, with the hours above the minutes. Because the discs rotate clockwise, the numbers appear to move backwards – we are used to seeing hands rotating around the dial from left to right, so seeing the numbers rotate clockwise behind a fixed “hand” takes getting use to. The seconds hand is located at the centre of the dial and is made to look like a spinning four-bladed propeller, situated on the nose of the plane diagram on the crystal. While not very useful (what second is it? There is no indication) it does give a bit more activity to the display than you had on the Compass, and lets you know that the watch is running. The Compass could stop dead without you noticing until you realized the time wasn’t right. Inside is an ETA 2892 automatic calibre, modified to accommodate the disc system. While the disc display appears simple at first glance, calibrating the discs to rotate smoothly without binding or affecting the timekeeping (they are very heavy compared the usual hands the movement is designed for) takes some very fine tolerances.
The Turn Coordinator is not for everyone. It is weird. It is bold. It’s tricky to read. But it is so distinctive it is sure to attract attention and become a conversation piece. Among Bell & Ross limited editions, it’s one of the most unique thus far, and comparable to the Radar for “what the hell is that?” reactions. In other words, it’s a perfect addition to the BR01 Instruments, never a watch for wallflowers in any variation.