We at WatchGecko are huge fans of Christopher Ward as fellow British watchmakers. We have been lucky enough to test many of their popular models for hands-on reviews, and it’s safe to say we were thoroughly impressed each time. You can check out some of our Christopher Wars watch reviews below - but for this article, we wanted to give our readers a bit of background to the world of Christopher Ward, for those of you who may not be all too familiar with them.
Back in 2004, ‘Christopher Ward’ came about as an idea between three friends, Mike France, Peter Ellis, and Chris Ward. Working from a shed in Berkshire with $100,000 capital and unified by their love of the art, science and engineering of watches, they launched their online store under the name Christopher Ward.
At the time, the company took a new approach to selling watches: the company was the only online watch shop delivering globally at the time of launch and unlike many of its competitors, they weren’t relying on expensive marketing strategies or celebrity endorsements.
As a result, the company focused its resources on its online shop to reach out to its customers directly, cutting out the middle man, and allowing them to create timepieces comparable to luxury watches for a much more attainable price.
A breakthrough moment
By June of 2005, Christopher Ward was ready to release its first two watches to the public, the C5 Malvern Automatic and the C3 Malvern Chronograph, with the help of an advertisement in the independent.
It was a slow first few months, with barely any sales or interest in the watches. It wasn’t until the advertisement caught the attention of Dave Malone, a Tasmanian watch reviewer for the watch forum TimeZone, that sales really went through the roof. Orders came in from all over the world, and Christopher Ward went from next-to-no sales, to selling 500 watches in their first year.
Malone couldn’t believe Christopher Ward had managed to power its watches with a genuine ETA 2842-2 movement at such a low price. He had to try it for himself, being so impressed he dubbed it the “best-value automatic watch in the world”.
Creating their own movement
After demand for their watches grew, Christopher Ward looked towards its logical next step and sought to create its own in-house movement. In 2008, Christopher Ward began working with the independent Swiss watchmakers Synergies Horlogères to create their first movement, the Caliber SH21.
This movement offered a power reserve of 5 days and was used in some of their best-selling watches, which included the Christopher Ward C60 Trident COSC 600 and the Christopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern 5 Day Automatic. They officially launched their Caliber SH21 movement in 2014, marking their 10th anniversary.
The launch of the new Calibre SH21 movement was a pivotal moment for smaller independent watch brands, able to create their movements in an industry heavily dominated by the Swiss Giants.
Christopher Ward as it is today
With a turnover of around 10 million dollars a year, Christopher Ward has come a long way from its humble beginnings in that shed in Berkshire, now having its own headquarters and design studio in Maidenhead, UK, as well as its owns a manufacture in Biel, Switzerland.
The company evolved, often based on the feedback of its customers. Its name, for example, has appeared in different fonts, and on different parts of the dial since then. 5 years ago, CW scrapped the ‘Christopher Ward’ wording in favour of their famous twin-flags logo which now appear on their dials, crowns, and casebacks. What began as customer feedback has now created a modern and well-established logo which serves to represent the British and Swiss heritage of the brand.
The watches also now have a singular look and a more coherent design scheme across all collections, popular being their Trident, Aquitaine and Sealander series. The company had preciously stated that a re-branding was necessary to attract new buyers, with new customers making uo about 50% of all sales.
Popular Christopher Ward watches - reviewed by our team at WatchGecko.
Named after the historic French coastal region that was home to celebrated undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, Aquitaine takes design influence from the first modern dive watches of the 1950s and launches with a confident three model collection: a steel automatic, a steel GMT, and a bronze-cased COSC version.
Christopher Ward revived the Super Compressor, with total authenticity, in under two years, from the moment in October 2018 when customer Marc Schulteis posited the idea, until production models reached customers’ wrists. Perhaps as noteworthy is the price: a brand-new C65 Super Compressor watch costs £895 on a strap or £1,000 with bracelet – less than one would pay for even a well-worn original.
The watch itself is a clear evolution of the C65 Trident line. It retains common elements from earlier models, such as the iconic light-catcher case, narrow aluminium bezel, and boxed sapphire crystal. However, whilst there is a good deal of the design that looks familiar, Christopher Ward have also taken the opportunity to add a host of new elements.
Refined, clean and legible. Three must haves in a quality tool watch and all three are present on the C65 Trident Automatic. The use of round indices, stick batons at 12,3,6 and 9 as well as the unobtrusive hands really do add to the quintessential diving aesthetic. I believe this is one of the most impressive features of the piece, Christopher Ward have managed to create a watch that really has that ‘feel’ of a reissued watch.
The overall look of the C60 Trident Pro 300 follows the new design language that we’ve been introduced to in CW’s later models, including the Twin Flag logo that has replaced the Christopher Ward name on the watch face, a popular request within the CW forum - representing both English and Swiss heritage, while the Christopher Ward name has been moved to the rotor visible through the sapphire caseback.
The new C65 GMT Worldtimer introduces a tool watch that is as stylish as it is useful. This is thanks to the new black and yellow aesthetic with printed indexes, slim ‘light-catcher’ case and vintage inspired ‘glass box’ crystal – reminiscent of 60s dive watch design – all of which are underpinned by a screw-down crown, a new technical inclusion to maintain water-resistance during a dive.
The company wanted the watch to not just be technically impressive, but also to be a feast for the eyes. Which is why during the design process the emphasis was placed on 3-dimensional shapes and depth. The idea was that when you saw a C60 Concept in person, you’d get a next level of sensory feedback.
The problems tackled by watch calibre designers are often extremely esoteric. The issues that must be overcome to bring a reliable movement to market are immense. Unlike many mechanical mechanisms, watches are temperamental beasts. Constructing...
The Singapore-based Boldr Supply Company has carved out an enviable position in the watch market in a relatively short period, selling rugged, high-spec, adventurous watches with a unique design flair. Offering state-of-the-art field watches like...