In recent years, replica Bell & Ross watches has greatly expanded its product line, no longer focusing solely on military inspiration with an Air Force, Marine Corps or racing theme. The latter has been used extensively in recent series, inspired by Formula 1 cars (Bergélé is a Renault F1 partner) or specially designed sports cars. Now, the Parisian brand has created another speed-inspired piece that retains the original vintage style. This is the Bell & Ross Vintage BR V1-92 and BR V2-94 Bellytanker.
Flight-inspired watches have become cornerstones in the Bell & Ross collection, while the iconic BR-01 model (a square case with a round dial inspired by the dashboard instruments of a jet) and other military-style watches, but with speed, have been the inspiration for the brand. This theme led to the creation of two bold series, B Rocket and Aero-GT. surprisingly, both were formed from fictional ideas rather than existing references, such as partnerships with established brands. Bell and Ross not only designed the watches, but the machines that inspired them. The B-Rocket watch was inspired by American Airlines in the 1950s and 1960s, while the Aero-GT was designed alongside the futuristic concept of a retro-ism motorcycle. Clearly a unique and original creation process in the watch industry, the Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker collection is now back on the scene.
The name “Bellytanker” refers to post-World War II practices. Initially, tanktanker was the name of the emergency landing tank mounted on the belly of the fighter. After the end of World War II, the term took on another meaning, as it became the nickname for the high-speed race cars made directly from these spare tanks. A certain American speedster, Bill Burke, wanted to build a supercar to race on the Salt Flats (a popular practice in the 1940s and 1950s). Having fought in the South Pacific during World War II, he had thought about using aerodynamically shaped fighter landing tanks to conceive the body of his speed machine. This idea proved to be effective as their droplet shape ensured excellent performance. In 1946, he purchased an oil storage tank from the P-51 Mustang Company of North America for $35 – at the end of the war, many military parts were sold cheap. He used it to build a bright yellow miniature hot rod. He mounted the fuel tank that makes up the body on the chassis and used the powerful V8 engine to power it. The result is a fast machine.
In 2017, Bell & Ross used this historical practice to conceive its own – the fictional “Bellytanker”. Since the wheels are basically fixed to the jet fighter parts, it even makes sense considering the brand’s roots. Made of metal, curved glass with bronze detailing, it echoes the Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker collection of watches designed later.