The first watch review of this year by yours truly has to be something extraordinary.
That’s a nice word; extraordinary. It is the best word to explain the watch we are about to take a closer look at. Let me share with you how we came across this amazing timepiece not too long ago. As our frequent readers might remember, last November, we visited Salon QP in London. It’s one of those rare occasion when we get to hang out with like-minded people, fellow journalists and with the other Fratelli as well, so it’s always fun. We hit the Saatchi Gallery hard, being there literary all day. The only time we are not strolling the venue was when we went to have some quality British pub food. During this lunch break RJ told us that we have to get back soon as we have an appointment with Christopher Ward. It rang the bell but to be completely honest I never expected what I was about to see. We were introduced to the Chr.Ward C900 Moon phase among many other wonderful timepieces. After that however, RJ and I were treated with something special. A limited edition, Unitas powered, mono-pusher chronograph or as the company calls it:
The concept is not new, Christopher Ward came out with this very model four years ago however they refreshed the collection to add the “golden quartet” to the lineup. I was fortunate enough to receive one of these watches and even though I’m not much of a gold guy myself it would’ve been very hard not to love this piece. The general idea is that the C9 line consists of dress watches, and very exciting ones I might say. You can find a world timer, a pulsometer or a jumping hour among the many different timepieces, but the icing on the cake has to be the single pusher chronograph. If you are looking for something remarkable and extraordinary, this might be your watch, just keep on reading.
Another interesting fact about Christopher Ward is that they sell their watches exclusively on their website. We were told that a boutique – or a chain of boutiques – are about to be opened but right now you have to buy their watches on-line. Their e-business model allows them to sell their watches for a much friendlier price than the other brands. By leaving out the middle man they cut costs related to marketing or retail so they lowered their margin for more competitive prices. We do wonder what happens if they start opening boutiques and what the consequences might be for their pricing strategy.
When we talked with Mike France (co-founder of the brand together with Christ Ward and Peter Ellis) he told us that their case design is not the most complex, though the best is yet to come. Even though the case of the C9 single pusher is a bit thick (14mm), it is something I can live with because of the 43mm diameter. This watch is not for the guys with small sized wrists unless you really dig huge-looking watches on you. Aside from the massive white dial the rest of the watch is quite subtle. The caseband of the watch case is brushed and polished between the lugs, just like the top of them. On top of the watch you have the 18K gold bezel, a new addition to the C9 single pusher line.
The clean and minimalistic design of the case is also applied to the dial. White with very minimal writing on it. At 12 o’clock you see the brand name “Chr. Ward London” and at 6 o’clock you have „Caliber JJ02 Chronograph” and of course the Swiss Made marking all the way down. As it is a bi-compax chronographs (two sub dials) it gives a great symmetric silhouette only to be broken by the huge winding crown. The 3 o’clock sub dial is the 30-minute counter of the chronograph while the 9 o’clock sub dial is for the continuous seconds. As the dial is framed by the gold bezel it was only obvious to add some of that precious metal to match. Christopher Ward balanced it just right with the raised gold stick indexes, only the 12 and the 6 are present with Roman numerals. Other than that, the hour and minute hands are gold and that is all. The white dial, with the elegant thin gold bezel and the 22mm black leather strap form a perfect harmony, it makes us forget how big this timepiece actually is. The chronograph hands are all black so even though they are very thin, they are easy to read. If I could mention one thing though, it would be the length of the minute and hour hands. Because they are also thin and the length is not that different from the chronograph second hand, it can be difficult to read the time, especially if the hand is over one of the stick indexes. However after a few days you will get used to it.
The one thing Christopher Ward is most proud of however is not the clean design of the watch but its Single Pusher Chronograph movement. As soon as you flip the watch over, you are greeted with a stunning view. The caseback is bolted to the case with 4 screws and the AR-coated sapphire crystal shows you the heart and soul in its full glory: the Chr.Ward caliber JJ02 (after their master watchmaker Johannes Janke). A Unitas 6497-based hand-wound column-wheel chronograph movement with 40 hours of power reserve, developed by Johannes Janke and Jean Fillon and personally assembled by the former. The history of the movement is so intriguing it would require a dedicated article. If you decide on buying this amazing timepiece it will not only come with a manual that basically tells you everything you want to know about this caliber, but also with a personalized authenticity certificate signed by master watchmaker Janke. The stainless steel caseback ‘bezel’ only has “Swiss Made” engraved and the limited edition number inscribed. The watch is only produced in 50 pieces. A truly unique watch with a beautiful design and a movement that is close to the pinnacle of watchmaking.
As I told you in the beginning of this article, the C900 Harrison Single Pusher Chronograph is only available throughout the Christopher Ward website. It comes with a manual, certificate, a beautiful presentation case and a polishing cloth. The price of the above model is 2995 British Pounds (about €3900). Keep in mind that this is the more expensive version due to the use of gold. The all stainless steel version is priced at 2325 GBP (just over €3000) . These are the prices on the strap, of course if you want it on the bracelet it’s a bit more expensive. You can also add some extras like gift wrapping, alligator strap upgrade (instead of the alligator grain) and even special engraving wishes. But tell me; where do you get a single pusher, Swiss Made, chronograph for 3K? The closest I could think of would be Longines’ column-wheel single push-piece chronograph for roughly the same amount. Other brands like Meister Singer or Breitling also came out with similar models but at a much different price level. The C900 Harrison Single Pusher Chronograph is an absolutely brilliant watch with an attractive price tag. The case design might be a bit bold at first sight but once you pass that it really becomes and instant classic, a head-turner if you will. And guess what; I heard from sources very close to Christopher Ward that this is just the beginning of something truly spectacular. They will wander into watchmaking areas you wouldn’t even think of. Until now, let’s enjoy the C900 Harrison Single Pusher Chronograph and the other amazing watches the brand has to offer to us.
More information on Christopher Ward via their official website.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more