Bell & Ross doesn’t mince words in its mission statement: This company exists to create “professional watches for astronauts, pilots, and Explosive Ordinance Disposal drivers.” Danger and speed being central to the ethos, the Paris-based watchmaker drew inspiration for its latest collection from American hot rod impresario Bill Burke.
Burke, a U.S. Navy veteran, is widely credited with building the first bellytanker, a unique breed of land speed racing car popularized during the 1940s. These hand-fabricated vehicles didn’t use traditional automotive chassis. Instead, builders scavenged for an auxiliary WWII fighter plane fuel tank—“belly tank,” in military parlance—propped it up on four wheels, and installed the rowdiest engine possible. (How’s that for upcycling?)
Streamlined and spartan, the resulting machines looked like Buckminster Fuller’s jalopy from hell. Bellytankers still participate at top speed trails today, reaching and exceeding 300 mph. So if you’ve been hunting for vintage-inspired chronograph with a killer backstory, look no further than the new BR V2-94 Bellytanker. In other words: Mission accomplished.
Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Bellytanker, $4,400; bellross.com (limited to 500 pieces)