What on earth do watches and motorcycles have in common?Not a lot really – unless you're French watchmaker Bell & Ross and you believe a one-of-a-kind, neo-retro Harley-Davidson motorcycle is the perfect way to promote your wallet-busting, aviation-inspired timepieces.
So we won’t be seeing one of these in a local dealership anytime soon?Unfortunately not, as the brilliantly titled Harley-Davidson B-Rocket is a bespoke piece created by British custom bike-builder Shaw-Harley-Davidson for promo purposes only. The East Sussex-based bike tinkerers teamed up with Bell & Ross three years ago to create the ‘Nascafe Racer’ – a sleek street cruiser that boasted plenty of Bell & Ross livery as well as a BR01 Carbon watch embedded into the tank. Think of the B-Rocket as an evolution of the ‘Nascafe Racer’, if you will.
It looks like it's about to take off.Right you are. Shaw-Harley-Davidson has never been one to shy away from the extreme side of motorcycle customisation and the B-Rocket is no exception. Inspired by the French watchmaker’s aviation background, the B-Rocket’s jet-like bodywork is handcrafted from steel by Shaw’s in-house fabricator. The rider has to adopt a prone position thanks to the steeply raked line that runs from the handlebars to the cosseting seat pad.
The bike looks familiar, where would have I seen something like it before? The petrolheads among you will have heard of the Bonneville Salt Flats – heck, you may even have Bonneville Speed Week scrawled in your diary – but for those who haven’t, the annual meeting in northwestern Utah sees cars and bikes congregate to obliterate land speed records on the densely packed salt pan. Many of the motorcycles involved feature similarly sculpted bodywork, aerodynamic wheel covers and stabilising rear fins. This could be the reason for your de ja vu.
Is the bike underneath all that shapely metal any good? That depends on what you class as ‘any good’. The bike underneath is a Harley-Davidson FXSTB Softail Night Train, which is powered by a 1600cc, air-cooled, twin cam engine. The top speed of the original bike is just 120mph but Shaw Harley-Davidson may have improved upon that. They’re just not saying.
Bell & Ross BR 01 B-Rocket
Bell & Ross BR 01 and BR 03 B-Rocket watches
Hang on, we still don’t understand the watch connectionDon’t panic, Bell & Ross has it covered; the canny clockmaker has crafted a limited edition BR 01 B-Rocket timepiece to accompany the bike on its promotional tour.
Around £3,700 buys you a watch whose case measures 46mm in diameter and features a large minutes counter with a tachymetric scale on the outer edge of the dial, which as a matter of priority measures short periods of time and so allows the rider or driver’s performance to instantly be displayed.
There’s also a smaller and even more elaborate BR 03 B-Rocket version of the watch that features a date window and a power reserve indicator. A self-winding Swiss movement powers both gorgeous wrist ornaments.
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