Skunkworks, indeed

Face Value: Bell & Ross BR 126 Blackbird

Style By Photo by Bell & Ross

The SR-71 “Blackbird” reigns supreme as the highest and fastest-flying plane ever built. And we mean reigns: 32 of these pitch black wonders have patrolled the skies above hot spots for over 40 years. To honor this achievement in aeronautics, Bell & Ross is releasing the limited edition BR 126 Blackbird ($6,700), and it’s a worthy, interesting tribute.

While a stealthy PVD-coated steel case and high-visibility orange accents against a matte-black dial lend an aggressive aesthetic, what really has us flying high is the central minute counter on the chronograph, which hearkens to the legendary Lemania 5100 movement. This new movement, manufactured for Bell & Ross by specialist Dubois Depraz (who works for Audemars Piguet, among others), features an independent hand to measure minutes in a full 60-minute arc on the main dial as opposed to relegating it to a 30-minute sub-dial. It also sports an a.m./p.m. indicator and a flyback complication.

Fortunately, Bell & Ross is making more than 32 of these beauties, though at 500 — no less, no more — we wonder if there will be enough to go around. Better hit the afterburners to your Bell & Ross dealer and put in your deposit.