Bell & Ross replica threw its hat into the highly competitive integrated steel sports watch ring last year with the new BR 05 model line. Clearly inspired by the success of luxury steel sports watches but sticking to their characteristic round dial in a square case shape, the BR 05 opened up a new segment of the French watch brand. This year the brand grows the collection with the introduction of a chronograph, the cheap replica Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono – available in two models, Black Steel and Blue Steel.
While the time-only Bell & Ross fake models with steel bracelets were 40 mm in size, the chronographs are slightly bigger. Both models feature a 42 mm stainless steel case that has a brushed surfaces and polished bevels and is 13.5 mm in profile. The crown-guard and pushers appear as one unit and the screw-down crown carries the brand’s ampersand logo in relief. Like all other watches in the BR 05 line, this has a sapphire crystal caseback and is depth-rated to 100 meters.
There are two dial options – jet black or navy blue – and both have a sunray finish. The 40 mm fake Bell & Ross chronograph has a bi-compax layout and the two snailed counters (a 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock and a running seconds hand at 3) are essentially two squares with rounded-off edges. Legibility is excellent and there is generous use of Super-Luminova on the applied hour indices and hands.
Caliber BR-CAL.301, a self-winding mechanical movement based on the popular ETA 2894-2 and widely used in Bell & Ross chronograph watches, is called up for duty here again. It is a 4 Hz movement with a power reserve of 72 hours amassed by an open-worked rotor.
Paired with an integrated steel bracelet whose lines flow seamlessly from those of the case, the watch is also available on a rubber strap. It will retail or €5,400 on a rubber strap and €5,900 on the steel bracelet.
Fake Longines’ highly successful Heritage collection welcomes another golden oldie. The latest model reporting for duty in the Heritage collection is the 5774 model created by Longines exclusively for the French Navy in 1947, designed for shallow diving missions. The Heritage Military Marine Nationale captures the look and feel of the original Longines 5774 convincingly, underscored by the simple, legible dial and no-frills, robust nature of the piece. Slightly larger in size than the original to cater to contemporary tastes, the re-edition is not a 1:1 replica, but it’s pretty close.
HERITAGE COLLECTION – THE REAL DEAL
The popularity of vintage-inspired watches shows no signs of abating, and countless brands have jumped on the bandwagon. Longines has an entire collection dedicated to this genre and with its long history (founded in 1832) has no shortage of historic models to inspire recreations. Taking a stroll through the Heritage collection – with dozens visible at the brand’s museum – is like walking down memory lane with reissues of models celebrating the dawn of aviation (Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch) to pre-war, war, inter-war and even post-war military references. Recent releases of golden oldies include the Avigation Type A-7 1935, the Avigation BigEye Chronograph, the interwar Heritage Military 1938, the RAF re-edition and even two-tone models like this winning Classic Tuxedo Chronograph.
THE LONGINES HERITAGE MILITARY MARINE NATIONALE
It’s evident that a 33.5mm case is way too small for today’s standards, and Longines has increased the case size by 5mm to a more contemporary 38.5mm diameter. Instead of going for a 40mm sports watch size that would ruin its vintage appeal, Longines has made a prudent choice by keeping the watch rather small. Comparing the watches side by side, you can appreciate the similarities of case construction: the double-stepped bezel, the long tapered lugs, and even the large crown with its rounded top are all faithful to the original. Like its ancestor, the crown has no guards, and the case of 38.5 mm Longines Heritage replica watch is water-resistant to depths of 30 metres.
The sandblasted golden-beige dial is particularly attractive and reveals a slightly grained, pockmarked surface to suggest natural ageing – something that was already used in the Heritage Military RAF Re-Edition. Like the speckled surface of an ostrich’s egg, the warm beige background hosts the highly visible Arabic hour numerals of the original as well as the chapter ring for the min/sec indications, also picked out with brown Arabic numerals and clearly defined intervals. The brown Super-LumiNova (fauxtina) applied to the syringe-style, blued-steel hands and numerals is also spot on and imitates the radium of the original. Another aspect that Longines is particularly proud of is the incorporation of a faithful replica of the 5774 counterweight on the seconds hand.
Powering the Longines fake watch with steel case is calibre L888.5. Based on a revised ETA 2892, this automatic movement with anti-magnetic silicon balance spring is made specifically for Longines by Swatch Group’s movement branch ETA with several noticeable upgrades. The frequency is of 25,200vph (not 28,800vph as in the regular ETA 2892), the power reserve is bumped up from 42 hours to 64 hours and, in the case of this model, the date function is suppressed.
The blue hands copy Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale is a convincing and accessible recreation of the robust 5774 military-issue watch. In fact, it is so convincing that at times it looks as though it is an original 5774 in pristine condition. It’s the kind of watch somebody might have found in their great grandfather’s safe; a mint-condition model that had never been used and had aged gently over the years. Obviously, the dimensions and movement are in tune with today’s requirements, but there is one aspect that Longines should have considered updating: the water-resistance. I respect the faithful rendition and the attention to detail, but 30m water-resistance for today’s standards is pretty shallow.