The Christopher Ward C5 Malvern Automatic MKII is a contemporary take on a classic dress watch that mixes together a lot of remarkable components at an even more remarkable price. The MKII is a follow up to, you guessed it, the MKI, which was one of C Ward’s first watches, and one of the first watches on the market to have achieved “such sublime quality being made available at such an accessible price.” The MKII takes much of the aesthetic of the original, puts it in a case that is 1mm wider, and simplifies the dial a bit. The watch features a veritable laundry list of great components such as a sapphire crystal, a decorated Swiss Made Selitta SW200-1 movement, a display case back, nice finishing and trust worthy build quality for the very tolerable price of $
Based on the components alone, you are clearly getting a great value. The fact that the C Ward brand has proven over and over again (to us) to make high quality pieces and offer really great customer support in their C Ward 360 program, drives the value home. It’s one thing to make an inexpensive watch, it’s another to stand behind it. What this all amounts to is confidence in your potential purchase. But that all aside, if you are not into the aesthetic and style of the watch you are not going to be buying it any day soon, so let’s take a closer look at the design and details of the C Ward C5 Malvern Automatic MKII.
Christopher Ward C5 Malvern MKII Review
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Selitta SW200-1
Dial: Silver Sun Ray
Strap: Brown Leather with Croc pattern
Water Res.: 50m
Dimensions: 39 x 47mm
Thickness: 10.8 mm
Lug Width: 18 mm
Crown: 3 x 6 mm screw down
Warranty: 60 day return / 5 year movement
Case and Movement
The stainless steel case of the C5 Malvern MkII measures a 39 x 47 x 10.8mm making it an easy to wear medium size. It’s a touch large for a dress watch, and a touch small for a contemporary watch, so it ends as a versatile dress/casual style. The case has a simple and elegant shape. The central body is a basic cylinder with straight sides and thin, graceful lugs protruding out. There is a relatively wide bezel with a gently rounded profile that adds a seamless look to the case and transitions nicely into the domed sapphire crystal. Overall, the design lacks any unnecessary ornamentation, though there is touch of decoration on the lugs in the form of a sort of stacked profile. It’s a nice touch that adds a drop of restrained adornment, and builds on the early/mid 20th century aesthetic of the watch.
At 3 o’clock is the signed screw down crown. Measuring a substantial 6 x 3.5mm, the crown is perhaps a touch oversized for a dress watch, yet proportioned very nicely. I happen to find it to be a very appealing detail of the watch, as the large crown plays well off dress/casual 39mm size to add a touch of masculinity to the design. Also, the use of a screw down crown is a bit unexpected, though very welcome. Since this is an automatic, in all likeliness you wont have to manipulate the crown too often, so this wont cause any annoyance and basically just adds to the overall quality feel of the watch.
The case back of the watch is a very simple display type back that shows off the nicely decorated Selitta SW200-1 movement inside. The display window measures 25mm across, giving a fairly full view of the SW200-1, which features a decorated rotor and blued screws. The rotor has been adorned with Geneva Stripes, a Christopher Ward logo and the Christopher Ward name, etched in and filled with a medium blue color. The movement itself is a Swiss made 26-jewel automatic with date, a 38-hr power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 bph. In the time I had with the watch, the movement was accurate and had no issues with power reserve.
The C5 Malvern Automatic MkII dial has an attractive and restrained aesthetic that speaks to dress watches from the early to mid twentieth century. Hours are marked with simple applied batons, minutes with small black ticks. The model I had on hand featured a silver sunburst dial, steel markers and steel hands for a sort of tone-on-tone metallic look. The all-metal design is very appealing and makes for a very versatile watch. The grey of the metal matches well with any number of colors, adds an interesting glimmer to the watch and is bold yet refined, drawing some attention while not standing out too much. The polished steel hands are very simple, thin post shapes that work well with the overall aesthetic.
Under the 12 marker is the new Chris Ward logo, which features the sort of peculiar “Chr” abbreviation for Chris. Directly under that it says London. The logo is fairly large, but not too large or distracting. Above the 6-marker is the word “automatic” and on either side of the marker are the words “Swiss Made”. I find the placement and design of the word “automatic” to be a bit annoying, it is sort of floating in space, and the font is a very plain sans-serif, almost feeling like it was not considered. Whether or not the watch even needs to say automatic at all is one question, but regardless I think it could have been applied with the same restraint and subtlety present in the rest of the watch design. That being said, this detail by no means detracts from the overall look and feel of the watch, and is frankly a fairly subjective issue.
Just off of the 3-marker is a circular date window. The window has been cut into the dial in such a way as to have a chamfered polished edge, which adds a nice bit of finishing to the window. This way it does not simply feel like a hole in the dial. The date underneath is presented in black on a white background, which works well with the silver dial. There is no lume present on the dial.
Strap and Wearability
The C5 Malvern Automatic MKII is available with a few different strap options: black or brown leather or a steel bracelet. The version on hand features the 18mm brown leather strap, with a faux gator texture. The quality of the strap is very high, with a nice supple texture, good stitching and edge finish. The brown of the strap has a beautiful rich tone with a decent amount of red present. One of the nice things about this faux gator is that it is not just a pressed in texture, the coloration of the brown shifts around, getting darker at ridges and lighter in valleys, making for a much more organic look and the mix of browns makes for a more interesting color to wear with clothing. The strap also features a deployment clasp in matching polished, which is a nice addition that adds to the over all value of the strap. Lastly, the strap has “quick-release” spring bars, which makes for easy, tool-free changing of straps.
On the wrist, the C5 is a very nice and comfortable size. The 39 x 10.8mm case has decent presence but is by no means too large. The thickness once again makes for a dress/casual style, adding a bit of robustness that makes it nice for everyday wear, yet it’s thin enough to easily fit under a shirt sleeve. The proportioning of the case to the 18mm strap is also very well thought out. Too often watches seem to air on the side of having a wider than necessary strap. In this instance the 18mm strap helps emphasize the dial, and does not add too much material around the wrist. The look of the polished stainless case with the silver tone-on-tone dial and the rich brown leather strap is really spot-on. This watch looks good with just about anything you wear it with. The all metal aesthetic works as well with black jeans as a soft blue dress shirt, as does the leather strap. Clearly, if you wanted to put this on with a suit, it would be welcome as well.
The C5 comes in a very nice presentation package. The outer box is a pleasant custard/cream colored cardboard with a foil stamped C. Ward logo on top. Inside is the actual, structural packaging that not only protects the watch, but really presents it to the customer in a nice fashion. The box is very sturdy and I actually believe is made of a wooden structure with various wrapping materials and padding. Around the outside of the box is a matte black faux leather and inside is a cream leather. The watch is presented on a cream “pillow” that has been positioned in a small recess in the center of the box. Overall, the box had a very substantial build quality that makes it worth keeping around once received.
Sometimes, we come across watches on w&w that offer an undeniably great value. Watches that have exceptional features, solid build quality and interesting looks at prices that seem too good to be true. The C5 Malvern Automatic MKII is one such watch. It features a decorated Swiss Made Selitta SW200-1 movement that is visible through a display case back, a domed sapphire crystal, a high quality leather strap with a deployment clasp, solid build quality, a simple though unique case design an elegant dial and an overall restrained and sophisticated aesthetic…and for those who put added stock in such things, it is a Swiss Made watch. All that said, it costs a mere $
C. Ward can make a watch like this at this price because of their size, the more you make the better your costs, and because they aren’t compensating for marketing or retail. The C5 demonstrates the success of their business model, in that they are offering quality and features that normally cost more at an achievable price point. Make no mistake about it, a different brand could sell this watch for several times this price and people wouldn’t blink an eye.
So, should you buy a C5 Malvern Automatic MKII? I don’t know, that’s up to you. If you are looking for a versatile dress watch, this is a great option. There aren’t too many mechanical dress watches in this price range, so it definitely stands out as a contender. If you are looking for an elegant day-to-day watch, or a watch with an early to mid 20th century aesthetic, then you too should definitely check the C5 out. What I do know for sure is that even though this watch costs less than $5000…heck, it costs less than $500, it is a superb watch and if the look suits you, you will be satisfied with it.
Review unit kindly supplied by Christopher Ward watches
by Zach Weiss