I have a sort of thesis about Bell & Ross replica watches UK, which is that the company has gone through three distinct incarnations. In the first, it made a fairly wide range of straightforward, technically appealing tool watches, including aviation watches, diver’s watches, and so on (no doubt owing partly to the fact that Sinn was an early manufacturing partner). The most representative watch of this era was probably the Hydromax, which was a relatively slim diver’s watch with an almost brutally straightforward design, which also had an 11,000 meter depth rating (incredible but true) thanks to its silicone oil-filled case. In its second incarnation, Bell & Ross was a design house – specifically, a design house building on the indisputable commercial success of its BR series of cockpit-instrument inspired watches, which were not so much pilot’s watches, as illustrations of pilot’s watches (which is not a knock against them at all; the best of them are excellent examples of design clarity in combination with an unusual design language, which is nothing to sneeze at).
Now, the company (which was founded in 1992) is going through a third incarnation. In this one, the company seems to be partly looking back to its own roots from 25 years ago in the making of affordable and attractive tool watches, and also to an era of which it was not directly a part: that of true vintage watches. While vintage inspired designs are hardly a novelty these days, I do think Bell & Ross has done better than usual, in creating vintage-themed watches that don’t look like anyone else’s designs but their own.
As is so often the case with Bell & Ross yellow dial fake watches, there’s a tie-in to aviation and automotive. The name “bellytanker” refers to a type of hot rod that became popular for salt-flats racing and speed record attempts in the years after World War II. These cars were built around the belly tanks, or drop tanks, that were attached to the underside of fighter aircraft in order to provide additional fuel and increase range (a critical part of a fighter aircraft’s mission was often to escort bombers, which often had a much longer range than the fighters that were meant to protect them). Bell & Ross has created its own custom motorcycle and concept car in recent years, as a way of emphasizing the seriousness of its involvement in high performance motorsports and in conjunction with the development of the Bellytanker watches, the company designed and built its own bellytanker hot rod.
The first bellytanker car was built by a man named Bill Burke, who’d been very active in the Southern California hot rodding scene prior to the war, and who served in the South Pacific, where he saw these drop tanks in use. Before the war, a fellow hot rodder named Bob Rufi had built a famous car with a teardrop shape that first ran in 1939, and which inspired the advent of the postwar bellytanker hot rods. Bill Burke’s pioneering bellytanker was built into the 168 gallon drop tank of a P-51 Mustang, and was small, fast, and dangerous – there wasn’t enough room for him to sit inside the car, so he cut a hole in the top of the tank, welded a bicycle seat to the drive shaft housing, and called it a day. His next bellytanker was much larger – built inside a drop tank used on the P-38 Lightning – and the genre became immensely popular as other builders followed suit. Today, bellytanker hot rods are still being built and run at speeds in excess of 300 mph.