It’s 09:00 on Thursday 27 April. And by the time you finish reading this sentence, Christopher Ward will have just released what’s almost certainly their most radical watch yet.
Not everyone is going to instantly love ‘The Twelve’ – which means that it’s already mission accomplished, as this watch is intended to make a statement. No fence-sitting here.
‘The Twelve’ has been in the making for a number of years now, following the fashion for integrated watches such as the Tissot PRX, to name just one well-known example. The latest Christopher Ward comes in steel, with four dial colours, and there’s a titanium version as well, which comes in two bespoke colours to mark it out as the top of the range.
But the eye-catching colours aren’t the most arresting aspect of these watches. Instead, it’s the uniquely textured dial, which is almost like a 3D chessboard.
Made up of lots of tiny squares, the overall design fits in neatly with the chequered Christopher Ward logo; the whole package transmitting what feels like a distinctly 1980s vibe.
This geometrically integrated look historically dates back from earlier than that though, with legendary designer Gerald Genta largely pioneering the style in the 1970s. Christopher Ward openly acknowledges his important influence, as echoed by a number of other brands as well.
“Every manufacturer of note has offered its interpretation of the heady concept of a watch which can be worn – literally – on any occasion and in any circumstances,” states the manufacturer. “The Twelve is in good company.”
Its name comes from the dodecahedron on the bezel, while beating within the 40mm case you’ll find a Sellita SW200-1 in the steel Twelve and a more sophisticated COSC-certified SW300-1 movement in the titanium Twelve. The latter has a 56-hour power reserve, as opposed to 38 hours on the former. Both movements are put attractively on display thanks to an exhibition caseback.
Of course, the bracelet is an integral part of the watch’s holistic design, featuring solid full-width links (10 of which are removable to ensure a perfect fit). A rubber strap is available as an option, but that’s not really the intention from the watch’s maker. As CEO Mike France says: “It’s an all-purpose sports watch designed to be worn on a bracelet.”
The main spotlight is unequivocally on the colours and dials. To give them their proper names, those colours are called Glacier Blue, Nordic Blue, Basalt Grey, and Arctic White for the stainless steel Twelve. The titanium is offered in Astral Blue or Nebula Purple. You get applied indices as well, which are particularly effective in gunmetal on the white version.
Cost-wise, the steel watch sells for £1,050 on the bracelet and £850 on the rubber strap, while the titanium watch costs £1595 on the bracelet and £1225 on rubber.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the watch and some quick hands-on time with both versions at Christopher Ward’s Maidenhead HQ (in fact, the titanium version we tried was Mike France’s own personal example).
In conversation with designer Will Brackfield, it’s clear that this is seen as a very important watch for Christopher Ward on which high hopes are pinned. As such, the idea from the beginning was to make a bold statement.
They’ve certainly succeeded. It’s a watch that resembles nothing that the brand has ever previously produced and it definitely stands out on your wrist. We tried the light blue and white dials in steel and loved the blue colour in particular – although the numerals stood out better on the white. We got the opportunity to try on the purple titanium version as well, with the lustrous colour even more striking than it appears in photographs, emphasised by the darker shade of metal.
How well these watches fit into your everyday life is something that will take more than a quick try to completely understand, so we look forward to spending more time with the new Twelve to fully appreciate its capabilities and aesthetics. One thing is obvious from the outset: Christopher Ward has made a clear statement of intent with this watch, signalling a new direction in its future design language. An exciting development, which has definitely intrigued us.
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