A very special trip... Checking out the new Christopher Ward C50 Concept
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited into the Christopher Ward showroom to meet with CEO Mike France, as well as some of the brand lead designers, to be shown a presentation and get hands-on with two very special releases, one of which we will come onto later. It was also an opportunity to immerse myself in the world of Christopher Ward, and generally just have some fun playing with their watches and talking all things Christopher Ward.
Christopher Wards wonderful appointment-only showroom...
The watches I was invited in to see have been under embargo until yesterday. Unfortunately, I was late to the party getting my article up (true to form as always). However, unlike probably any other article you could read on the watch, I am coming to you with a unique perspective, having been presented with the watch by the two chaps who designed it, and the founder of the brand... not to boast or anything, but not bad having heard about it from the horse's mouth!
The watch in question is a commemorative piece, and a groundbreaking piece in ways that I will get onto shortly. The watch is called the C60 concept, and as the name suggests, this is no run-of-the-mill Christopher Ward, as you can see from the clip below...
If this does not make you fall in love, I do not know what will...
This video was the first thing that I watched after the usual exchange of pleasantries, and not having seen anything of the watch (despite having been sent the press release 2 weeks prior!) my socks were only not knocked off due to the fact I had shoes on. I even said to Mike that if anyone comes up to me questioning why I have such an obsession with mechanical horology, that would be a video I would show them. It really highlights the ingenuity, attention to detail, and craftsmanship that goes into this watch, and I think it is absolutely amazing.
The watch has actually been made in collaboration with some big names, and some lesser-known but incredibly important, names in the watch industry. For example, Armin Strom developed the ski-slope style bridges, as they are somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to skeletonized movements. In terms of skeletonized movements, this is where the attention to detail of this watch is possibly the most apparent. To skeletonize a watch movement, you start with the main plate. In most instances, you make the main plate, and then cut areas out of it around the key components that allow it to be assembled, effectively getting rid of any 'superfluous' space. However, Christopher Ward did not want to do that, not only would it not achieve the desired effect that they wanted, but if done in this way there is an increased risk of it affecting the timekeeping. Given the watch houses a movement with 120hrs of power reserve, something of a USP, this was a big factor!
Armin Strom at work fashioning the main plates...
The movement also found its way into the hands of a company called Chronode. Now, whilst like me, I am sure you have not heard of Chronode, you will certainly have heard of some of the companies that they work with. The likes of Czapek, Cyrus, and MB&F use Chronode to hand polish and finish their movements, which given the movement architecture of those three brands, is not a bad resume. Chronode lent their services to hand-polishing the chamfered edges of each of the 210 SH21 calibers in this particular model, under a microscope, for 6 hours each. Unbelievable attention to detail, and having handled and admired the watch, it really shows.
Watch porn alert... Just look at those champfers...
The final company involved in this piece is a company called Xenoprint. Another company I had never heard of, but a company that is at the cutting edge of something we watch geeks all salivate over, lume... The triangle at 12 is a solid piece of lume, mixed with carbon fibre, to create this fantastically tactile-looking Dorito at the 12 pm position.
The Xenoprint lume being poured...
Now that you have the appropriate level of appreciation for the attention to detail that has gone into this absolute cracker of a movement, let me give you a bit of a lowdown of the rest of the watch.
The case is milled out of Grade 2 titanium, making it feel incredibly light on the wrist. Given it is a 42mm diameter watch, at just under 16mm thick, the lightweight case material makes it wear so much smaller. An illusion of sorts I am sure, but that coupled with the lug-to-lug length of 49mm made it wear incredibly well. I got to play with a model on the Cordura and rubber hybrid strap, but I bet it would wear even better on the accompanying titanium bracelet as it would feel even more weightless.
Talk about an eye-catching dial...
This watch has an amazing presence on the wrist. Not only does the case and proportions wear superbly as I mentioned, but the dial is just incredibly eye-catching. Honestly, I have never found myself getting as lost in a watch dial like this one. I must admit, and I did mention this to Mike when I was chatting about the watch with him, I often find skeleton dials are very poorly executed. I find that it is usually used by very low-end watch companies, who simply remove the dial entirely for the sake of offering something they deem to be eye-catching. Unfortunately, and this is of course reflected in the price point, no attention gets given to how the movement looks given it is the focal point of the dial.
The C60 Concept is a completely different animal. Instead of creating the movement and then deciding to skeletonise it, the movement has been re-worked with the sole purpose of skeletonisation. The position of the barrels and bridges, as well as every single piece of polishing, have all been meticulously decided upon to give the feeling of the movement being a metropolis. The intricacy of the layers and the different depths are just amazing, and if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these to have a look at, make sure you have a loop to hand, trust me.
This watch, I think marks a very interesting point for Christopher Ward. I have always recommended Christopher Ward as a brand to people, especially those new to the hobby looking for their first proper watch. Not only is the build quality and design spot on across their entire range, but the brand ethos and passion also shine through infinitely more than the other usual suspects that people consider. Whilst I completely appreciate the heritage and brand recognition of the likes of Oris, Nomos, and Tag for example, they are established household names, run by big companies in some instances. Yes, you could buy a Tag and your mates down the pub would be impressed because of the popularity of Tag Heuer, but for me, watches are also about connecting with the brand, their heritage, and their enthusiasm for what they do. In the case of Christopher Ward, you are getting both. Incredibly build quality, originality of design, and a team who are bursting with passion and drive for not only what they do, but what they are looking to do in the future.
My photos do not do this watch justice... however, these press shots certainly do!
For me, this watch encapsulates the journey that Christopher Ward has been on. Constantly innovating and delivering watches that enthusiasts love, at a price point that makes the value for money almost unmatched. This watch really shows the brand's ability to flex their watchmaking muscles, as well as offering a fitting tribute to the SH21 caliber. I have been informed that there are very few of this limited edition left, so if you would like to not only pick up a true piece of horological innovation but also a watch which could be sold for £10,000 and still be a bargain, I would get onto the Christopher Ward website as a matter of urgency and snap one up whilst you still have the chance!
Thank you again to Mike and the team for your hospitality, and for allowing me a peek behind the curtain about how this horological marvel came to be. I am truly grateful and I cannot wait to continue to follow your journey and more importantly sing your praises.
Editor & Co-Founder