Middle East

Carlos A. Rosillo, CEO and co-founder of Bell & Ross

The quartz crisis of the 70’s and 80’s hit the European watch industry as a whole, especially Switzerland. However, at the turn of the 90’s, it began to be in the limelight with the renaissance of watchmaking, which is growing rapidly among neighboring countries of Germany and France. In 1994, Parisian Carlos A. Rossillo and Bruno Veramich decided to launch their own watchmaking brand with an initial investment of $ 20,000, with the aim of riding the wave. They combined the names to form Bell & Ross, with Bell Mitch acting as the creativity behind the brand and Rossillo driving the business.

Starting a watch brand from scratch can be a daunting task. That’s why they asked the legendary German watchmaker Helmut Sinn to help make the first Bell & Ross work. Helmut already has decades of experience in manufacturing high-spec tool watches such as the Jin 140 in space and the Jin U1 made of submarine steel. The first few Bell & Ross works made in Frankfurt’s Ginspezi Luren had “Bell & Ross Weissin” on the dial.

Rosillo brought his watch to Baselworld in 1994 to introduce his brand to the world. “I was amazed at the reaction of watch experts, the media and top retailers,” Rosillo told Gulf Business. In an exclusive interview when I recently visited Dubai. “We were small but had a good collection. Top retailers came to us, including those that were carrying things like Patek Philippe. I’m a collector. Retailers I know what it is to carry Patek. “

Early on, Bell & Ross decided to establish itself as a professional tool watch, as well as a watch with a beautiful face and colorful dial. For example, in 1996, the bomb squad-type watch was ordered for use by members of the bomb squad of the French elite GIGN special operations force. The 1997 Bell & Ross Hydro Challenger, on the other hand, was tested under conditions that recreated the pressure generated above 11,000 meters below sea level. “There is an ampersand in the center of the logo, which is a fusion of the talent and expertise of designers, engineers, watchmakers and professional users,” explains Rosillo, a watchmaker positioning.

By 1998, Chanel, who witnessed the rising star of Bell & Ross, decided to buy a minority stake in watchmakers. Four years later, Bell & Ross was able to break away from Singh and instead rely on Chanel’s manufacturing facility in Switzerland.

The only and most important moment that changed the trajectory of Bell & Ross forever was when BR 01 debuted in 2005. The BR01 retains the iconic and iconic design of the watchmaker with the distinctive design of the round dial of the square case with four exposed screws. It was intended to be inspired by the design of vintage military aircraft dashboard instruments to create wristbound versions of them. The BR 03, on the other hand, had a small 42mm case to fit a small wrist.

Most recently, in 2019, the brand announced BR 05. That version was available in an integrated steel bracelet. It was intended to be a more urban alternative to the rugged BR01 and BR03. Rosillo has a car analogy to explain it. “BRO5 is an evolution of BR03, but for the city. Let’s say you need to compare it to a car. Land Rover, when they went from Defender to Ebokku, they went from country house to city. In 05, I went out into the city with a built-in bracelet and softened the case. Currently, there are two icons: the Classic 03, which is very robust like the Defender, and the 05, which is more sophisticated. “05 The collection previously had a date and time model as well as a chrono model, but last year introduced the first dual time zone version on the BR 05 GMT.

From a small two-person show in the early 90’s, the brand has grown into a truly international footprint. “We are in 80 countries. Most of them have subsidiaries or people working at Bell & Ross. There are about 600 sales offices around the world, 15 of which are Bell & Ross boutiques.” Says Rossillo.

When we met in Dubai at the end of November last year, Rossillo was visiting the city to attend Dubai Watch Week hosted by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.

“When we first started in the Middle East, it wasn’t a strong market for us. I think one of the key developments was the partnership we signed with Seddiqi about three years ago. Cooperation was an important move because they have a very good brand, they are knowledgeable and their customers [profile] Of the clock [they retail]”Rosillo said. At Dubai Watch Week, the brand announced a collaboration with Sediki. Limited to 50 pieces, this is the BR03-92UAE 50th Anniversary Edition made to commemorate the country’s Golden Jubilee.

Last year, Bell & Ross was selected by Alme de Rhea et de Lespas (French Air Force and Space Force) as the official watchmaking partner for Patrouille de France (French Air Force Patrol). BR 03-94 Patrouille de France was published to team members and a self-winding mechanical version limited to 500 pieces was created for the general public. Coincidentally, the Patrouille de France team jumped over the sky at the opening weekend of the Dubai Expo in October to entertain the crowd.

In 2018, Chanel acquired a 20% stake in Swiss watch movement and parts manufacturer Kenissi for CHF 20m. Apart from the shares of Bell & Ross, Chanel also owns shares in independent watchmakers FP Journe and Romaine Gotier. The transaction between Chanel and Kenissi, and the expansion of the manufacturing facility at Le Rockle in Kenissi, will also make these independent watchmakers available with the ability to manufacture new movements and parts. “We do not own our own manufacturer. However, the partnership between Chanel and Kenissi gives us access to their technology. In 2022, we will use this manufacturer. We will develop a new Bell & Ross movement, “Rosillo reveals.

Bell & Ross’s average starting point is around $ 4,000, which is one of the best deals in the classic round-case vintage collection, but the brand is able to successfully spot at the far higher end of the market. Also shows. The November Only Watch auction offered a one-off BR 01 Cyber ​​Skull Sapphire piece, estimated at CHF 90,000, but eventually auctioned at CHF 220,000, well more than double that. Was auctioned. In December, the brand launched 10 limited editions based on its work, each built with its own B & R movement and priced at $ 117,000. That’s almost five times the total investment that Rosillo and Belamic have set up nearly three independent watch brands. Decades ago.

https://gulfbusiness.com/interview-carlos-a-rosillo-ceo-and-co-founder-of-bell-ross/ Carlos A. Rosillo, CEO and co-founder of Bell & Ross

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