One is a progressive French-Swiss luxury watch company while the other is a trendy streetwear label from Japan. According to Bell & Ross' CEO Carlos Rosillo, this is a collaboration that should have happened sooner.
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BR03-92 25th Anniversary (left) and BR03-92 Green Camo (Photo: Bell & Ross)
Above BR03-92 25th Anniversary (left) and BR03-92 Green Camo (Photo: Bell & Ross)

To celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, BAPE (also known as A Bathing Ape) has selected 25 partners to collaborate with, among them adidas, G-Shock, Spalding and even Barbie. The popular doll that is more vanilla than BAPE cutting-edge isn’t the only unlikely partnership on the list - Bell & Ross, a high-end watch brand commonly associated with the world of military, is now part of the ultra-cool BAPE circle too.

While Bell & Ross has previously collaborated creatively with Renault Formula One Team and aircraft manufacturer Dassault, this is first time that it has partnered with a fashion label.

“We thought it was the perfect fit,” exclaims Carlos Rosillo, CEO of Bell & Ross. “Bruno (Belamich, Bell & Ross’ creative director) knows the brand and is familiar with what they do. BAPE is heavily influenced by military elements, and so are we. We're not just a watch brand and neither is BAPE just a clothing brand - we're both about lifestyle as well. We also like that BAPE is very cool and creative.”

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Carlos Rosillo (Photo: Khairul Imran)
Above Carlos Rosillo (Photo: Khairul Imran)

The traits might have matched but the partnership wouldn’t have gotten off the ground if BAPE didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted. “We like to work with people who know what they are doing, whether it’s a fighter pilot, a deep-sea diver or a race-car driver. When BAPE first approached us, they had a strong idea of what they wanted. It wasn’t as if they just came in and asked us to draw a nice watch.”

They came up with two versions of the iconic square-shaped BR03-92 watches. Both boast a 42mm black matte ceramic case and a two-section dial with the upper section featuring cutouts for the numerals and indices. The lower section is coated with Superluminova that lights up the time display in the dark.

Check out: Bell & Ross' BR03-92 Diver, the first square-shaped dive watch

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BR03-92 25th Anniversary (Photo: Bell & Ross)
Above BR03-92 25th Anniversary (Photo: Bell & Ross)

The first version is the 25th Anniversary edition with a black dial and green luminescence. It's paired with a black leather strap adorned with BAPE’s trademark grey camouflage. Limited to 25 pieces, BAPE’s ape logo can be found on the dial and on the strap.

A second version, the Green Camo, features a striking green camouflage dial for a distinctive contrast against the white numerals and indices. This is limited to 100 pieces.

Also see: Another fantastic watch collaboration, this time between Richard Mille and Sylvester Stallone

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BR03-92 Green Camo (Photo: Bell & Ross)
Above BR03-92 Green Camo (Photo: Bell & Ross)

The fact that both partners have very strong identities of their own made the collaboration a really interesting one. “We inspired each other and we pushed each other out of our comfort zones. I think we pushed them more. At one stage, we even wanted the watch to be in full camouflage. My thinking is always that if we stick too much to what we know, it would become boring. So it's good to work with new people with new ideas.”

Having said that, it's generally no easy task trying to strike a balance that doesn’t dilute either one’s spirit. “At Bell & Ross, we know who we are and we like to have fun. That is the balance that we've always strived for. With a collaboration, it’s also a question of balance - balance between internal and external point of view, balance between modernity and tradition, between trendy and classic, between business and image – and all the while not compromising on who you are.”

Rosillo particularly enjoys the fact that the watches have caught the attention of a much younger audience, including his two sons aged 10 and 12. "It immediately struck a chord with them. They were not happy that I didn't reserve any pieces for them!" he quips.

Will we see more lifestyle collaborations like this from Bell & Ross? “If the project is interesting enough, why not? We love to work with brands that aren't afraid to show who they are,” enthuses Rosillo. “While we have a strong in-house creative team, links like this can lead to something really cool.”

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