Friends since the age of 15, Carlos Rossillo and Bruno Belamich founded Bell & Ross in the early 90’s. Despite stiff competition from centuries-old watchmakers, they have succeeded in leaving their mark on the industry. LUX speaks to CEO Carlos Rossillo about how they made sure to stand out.
LUX: Can you share the story behind the inception of Bell & Ross watches?
Carlos Rosillo: Bell & Ross is the union of two childhood friends, Bruno Belamich and myself. We have known each other since school and are both passionate about watchmaking.
Bruno proposed to me to go on an adventure with him to create our watch brand. After this, it was thanks to exceptional encounters, a lot of work, and the right people that our brand is what it is today.
LUX: The brand is relatively modern compared to other major players in the luxury watch market. In the early stages, was it challenging to establish Bell & Ross as a leading brand because of its newness?
CR: It is true that 30 years for a watch brand is young, but for any company it is a good age. Over the years, we have been able to impose ourselves and prove our legitimacy for several reasons.
First of all, we have a very strong identity; you can easily recognize a Bell & Ross, thanks to our design and unique shape. As a result, we have icons that are anchored in our history, starting with the BR 03. We have shown that we know how to evolve and diversify with the BR 05. Since 2022, with the BR-X5, we have made waves in our manufacturing, thanks to our partnership with Kenissi. These evolutions have enabled our company to impose itself in the watchmaking world.
LUX: Bell & Ross watches are often associated with aviation and military influences. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind this?
CR: When we first started the brand, Helmut Sinn challenged Bruno by telling him to transpose the cockpit clock of a jet to the wrist to make a watch. Bruno and I are both passionate about aviation and the military world, and this universe has always been our inspiration.
Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine
LUX: Can you tell us more about the core values behind Bell & Ross?
CR: The fundamental values of the House are transcribed in the logo with this ampersand. We are convinced that it is by surrounding ourselves with the right people that we succeed, so the union of competences is our driving force. Every department of our company, from the watchmakers to the logistics teams, are essential to make the Maison work.
LUX: What would you say are the key challenges facing the luxury watch industry at the moment?
CR: Production issues have increased a lot since the COVID crisis; productions have slowed down, and this is the main problem for everyone in the watch industry.
LUX: Would you say the tastes of the new generation are changing when it comes to luxury, and to watches in particular? Why or why not?
CR: Tastes change and evolve with time. Nowadays, the young generations are used to instantaneousness and have developed weariness towards more traditional products. So it is essential to differentiate ourselves. We notice that the young generation are more and more interested in strong pieces that do not look like your usual classic watch.
LUX: Do you see traditional watches like those of Bell & Ross having to compete with smartwatches in today’s industry? How do you address this?
CR: We do not address this issue because we don’t believe it concerns us. Customers who are looking for a Bell & Ross are not interested in smartwatches, and vice versa.
LUX: What is the role of storytelling in the industry? How do you create a compelling narrative around each of your pieces?
CR: Storytelling is essential in the launch of each of our pieces, in order to build a universe around the new collection. For each watch, we create a storytelling around the usefulness of the watch because, for us, function creates form.
LUX: Can you tell us more about the three new pieces released by Bell & Ross at this year’s Watches and Wonders fair?
CR: Our three novelties are the BR 03-93 GMT BLUE, the BR 03-92 DIVER WHITE BRONZE, and the BR 05 GREEN GOLD. For this special launch, we decided to reveal 3 watches that belong to different family collections; it made sense for us to show the diversity of our products.
The BR 03-93 GMT BLUE is the natural evolution of our BR 03-93 GMT, which was originally red and black. We also presented a limited edition new diver, very elegant and chic and, finally, the new BR 05, an exceptional piece all in gold. This is a real jewel which succeed the BR 05 Blue Gold.
LUX: Can you tell us about your partnership with Alpine F1 TEAM and how this speaks to the Bell & Ross brand?
CR: Our partnership with Alpine F1 TEAM is a great pride for the Maison. Through this partnership we are promoting a French brand but also equipping extreme professionals in the toughest and most prestigious motorsport in the world. As in each of our very carefully selected partnerships, we share the values of excellence and teamwork.
LUX: Looking forward, what key changes do you predict taking place within the luxury watch market within the next 10 years?
CR: I predict there will be a double effect with concentration from one side of the industry, and at the same time a number of independent watchmakers who will stand out in the rocketing price complications with very limited production.
Images courtesy of Bell & Ross
Find out more: www.bellandross.com