Only Watch 2021 — the most prominent biennial charity watch auction in the world — takes place this Saturday in Geneva, begging at 9 AM EST.
For this year’s Only Watch auction, the 9th edition of the auction that donates all the proceeds to Muscular Dystrophy Bell & Ross created a one-of-kind, sapphire version of their BR 01 Cyber Skull. Featuring the same 43.3 mm diameter case as the BR 01 Cyber Skull that was introduced in 2020, this watch takes it a step further by offering not just a sapphire skeleton dial but also a sapphire crystal case and skull.
Horologically, the watch is the same as the 2020 model, however, to manufacture the case, dial, and skull from sapphire crystal, for a one-off piece (although the design can and likely will be reused in the future), likey required significant R&D due to the fact that sapphire crystal is a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, second only to diamonds, and is therefore incredibly hard to manufacture. According to Bell & Ross, the sapphire case is machined from three blocks of sapphire, while the Skull dial is even more complicated to produce, and required six blocks of sapphire.
Beyond the crystal clear case — the faceted orange-tinted sapphire skull is the highlight of the watch, and while not a Richard Mille Skull timepiece — it has a similar appeal. In addition to hours and minutes, the skull moves when you wind the watch. The hand-wound caliber BR-CAL.209 movement beats at 4Hz, has 21 jewels, and a 48-hour power reserve. A faceted titanium crown is used to set and wind the timepiece.
Bell & Ross skeletonized the rhodium-plated mainplate and bridges, polished the chamfers, and velvet sanded the hollows. Perhaps most interestingly, the mainplate follows the outline of the sapphire Skull. (Ref. BR01-CSK-OW-SAPHIR)
Photos by Bell & Ross.