From the Pac-Man watch that was gifted to me by my mother when I was 8 to the colorful and easy wearing appeal of Swatches during its heyday. I have always remembered having a watch on my wrist and finding enjoyment in all their little details. During my college years, I have had a few watches here and there, with the rotation usually amongst a TAG Heuer Formula 1 time only, an Alba Spoon, a Casio calculator and a chunky 70’s Benrus quartz that I found during a trip to the flea market. I purchased the Bell & Ross Space 3 shortly after my graduation and for the next 6 years, it was glued to my wrist. The love for this watch was completely visceral; Sure, it was expensive, especially to a recent graduate but I can reassure you that it was not because of its price.
The Space 3 was a substantial watch; that was noticeable from the moment you picked it up, the weight of the stainless steel case and bracelet exuded sturdiness. Even though the stainless steel case with the solid stainless steel linked bracelet was heavy, it wears fairly well. The curve of the case accentuate nicely the integrated pushers and lead your eyes to the telescopic crown. I have read comments regarding the use of the Ampersand as a logo odd but I find it packed more punch graphically than say a ‘B’ and an ‘R’. The large pushers are easy to operate and provide a very satisfying click. I have found myself activating it just to hear that click which put a silly grin on my face. Since I pretty much had the watch on the wrist all the time, I rarely needed to access the crown except to change the date of the month. Nonetheless, the telescopic crown was always fascinating to use. I can’t recall seeing another watch that employ the same system (perhaps the Tutima?), for better or for worst. I also found the wobbliness of the Valjoux 7750 endearing as it was like the watch’s way of telling me that he was alive, though I must confess that I was caught off guard initially.
Aside from the physical attributes of the Space 3 that I admired. I also find the watch visually striking. Despite the case thickness of 17.5mm, it blended sleekly into the bracelet and gave the watch a very streamlined and futuristic look. The softly brushed finish is applied throughout both watch and bracelet which really emphasize its tool watch quality. The dial was organized in a very logical fashion and was extremely legible with its matte white dial and soft cream numerals and minute indexes. Aside from the word ‘automatic’ and the brand logo, there are no other superfluous text. The day and the date can be read off easily and timing function and chronograph function are color coded. All the information can be read with a quick glance to the wrist, though I always find that hard to achieve ;) The placement of the tachymeter is also another favorite feature of mine on this watch. The slightly sloped scale of the tachymeter and how it terminated right into the sapphire crystal is really a thing of beauty. Again, color was used to separate out information with the red for the word ‘tachymeter’ and white for the numbers on the scale. Turn the watch around, you will see a big milled out Ampersand stamp on the solid caseback with the typical specs of the watch etched around the stamp. It was tastefully done, aside from leaving a funny ampersand on my skin from time to time, I have no complain as I quite like the logo. I give them kudos for making a simple component of the type work for them. The integrated pushers when viewed from the back also give an interesting point of interest.
The sci-fi writer William Gibson (a favorite writer of mine) once said in an interview that watches need to be worn, understood. I couldn’t agree more with that statement. On paper, the thickness of this watch would have turned me away given the specifications that I look for today. But because the pushers and crown were integrated into the case, I have never had an incident with it snagging on my clothes or sleeves. Not to say that it does not have its weakness, could the lume on the dial have match its hands? Yes. Could the case have been thinner? Sure, but probably at the expense of the price tag by switching to a more expensive slimmer caliber. I have wore the Bell & Ross Space 3, understood its design intent and was rewarded with tremendous user satisfaction. Not only does it bring back a lot of good memories but it continues to deliver these small pleasures every time I put it on, I can say that this was quite possibly one of the most satisfying purchase. What's yours?
Editor’s note: Unfortunately there are an overwhelming lot of so-called designed products out there that are not well considered and thought through but I am glad that my very first automatic watch serves as a reminder to myself that well designed products can both serve and inspired.
posted by A.C.