I own a Bell & Ross Vintage 126 since 2004, and despite frequent good feed back among watch addicts, it is quite difficult to find a review of this beautiful watch, so, here is a small review of my Vintage 126.
This watch is mainly inspired by classic 70’s military chronograph, like the ones reissued by CWC.( http://www.cwcwatch.com/ )
( pic from cwc site )
The original one had a plexiglass, asymmetric case to protect the crown and pushers, nato strap, but main design is here, Bell & Ross just changed the destination from a military chronograph to a dressed watch adapting finishing to it.
The dimensions of this watch are reasonable in this time of big watch fashion. It is 39mm large diameter ( without crown ), 14mm thick. Case is brushed, horn fit perfectly the wrist, the watch is very comfortable to wear.
Glass is a sapphire AR coated and domed, on a very open and elegant dial. A white circle limits the dial, indexes are generously loaded with luminova and giving relief to the dial, 2 white sub dials with engine turning ( guillochage ), the 3 and 9 disappeared for the subdials, no numbers are cut, 6 and 12 are a slightly bigger, the date is hiding deep in its pit at 4.30, every elements in a perfect balance.
In order not to ruin this perfect dial, there is not much literature here, just the beautiful B&R logo, and the “automatic antimagnetic 200m”.
Note that small second is at right and minute chrono sub dial at left, because this model has an ETA 2894-2 and not a 7750.
Pushers are round and brushed, aligned with the crown which has the nice “& “ on.
Let’s turn the watch. At that time, the back sapphire glass was important to me. Today, for an supposed antimagnetic watch on a “basic” 2894-2, I think it would be better on a steel screwed caseback that could be nicely engraved. Beside that, the movement finishes are nice ( Geneva stripes, perlage of the plates, engraved logo ), and give a quality aspect of the whole.
The movement is a 2894-2, modular movement of ETA based on a 2892. Unlike some modular movement based on 2892 ( Omega Cal. 1138 per example ), the pushers are aligned with the crown.
This movement is produced since 1996. It is automatic, beating at 28,800 bph, 28 mm diameter, 6.1 mm height, 37 jewels, 42 h power-reserve ( 46 to 48h on mine ), lever/cam design. It is very common, often used in mid-priced models with a Tricompax or Bicompax outlay.
You can find this movement in mid-range watches, for which I imagine that brands prefer its appearance and size compared to the Valjoux.
Even if not COSC rated, the watch runs a very regular 3s/day. Chronograph launch and stop are a bit rugged but nothing bad. As the dial is very clear, the reading of the chrono is easy.
For the strap, I always wore it on its black leather / white stitching original strap (replaced after 3 years ) a “W type” deployment buckle, maybe I will try a nato / zulu strap, or mat finish croco strap.
In 4 years, the watch came back twice to B&R, the 1st time to adjust accuracy which was between 10 and 15s/day, and the 2nd time for a little problem with the chrono second hand. Each time service was very well handled by B&R.
This model has been a good success for the brand, which is now more into less conventional design, but this vintage 126 is a very nice replay of a classic watch.
As you probably understood if you came through all this post, this watch is with me for good, and would leave my collection for absolutely no reason!
It seems that this exact version is not produced anymore ( it is not on catalogue anymore ), but still produced either all black, all white and also in a Military version. A new version exists, the vintage 126 XL, 42mm wide and not as beautiful to my taste ( 24h and minutes indications on the dial, more centered sub dial … ).
No much references exist on this watch, but, a great photographer ( who has a not negligible role in my choice ) has 3 great page on this watch. Deniz a French guy participating in Chronomania ( French watch forum ).
you can see there beautiful pics of 126 and cross-pics of 126 in its 2 versions ( 7750 and 2894-2 )
else, go to www.bellross.com