Well, we’ve finally gotten our hands on the much anticipated Christopher Ward C900 Single Pusher Chronograph. This watch was first announced in August, and I found the news so exciting (come on, it’s not everyday that a brand bucks the trends of the watch market and brings out an in-house chronograph for just above 3k) that I wrote up a fairly detailed article on it back then. So, to not write the same thing twice and get on with the review, I’ll defer you to that article for the meat of this intro. Needless to say, with the C900 the C. Ward brand has once again proven that in the internet age, a watch company can provide quality, innovation and mechanics normally believed to be the province of luxury brands at an affordable price.
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: C. Ward JJ02
Dial: Black and White
Water Res.: 50m
Dimensions: 43×51 mm
Thickness: 15.9 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 8 x 5 mm screw down
Warranty: 5 year on movement
And yes, the C900 at $3,365 dollars is, to this date, the most expensive watch we have reviewed on w&w. And no, we haven’t become so jaded as to think this is affordable in the traditional sense of the term. The C900 represents a stellar entry into the next tier of watches, one we could call “accessible luxury”. Where in-house calibers and technical innovation are more commonplace. That being said, at $3,365 the C900 costs much less than it ought. There are many watches with the same or similar Swiss movements we often see (2824-2’s and 2892-2’s and -3’s) in watches under $1,000 that cost upwards of 5k. In the watch market as a whole, the C900 is a very affordable offering, and regardless, is an interesting watch we know you want to read about.
The obvious star of the show here is the in-house developed Calibre JJ02 single pusher chronograph movement at the heart of the watch. Built off of the workhorse Unitas 6497, the JJ02 is unlike any other movement we’ve come across. While proprietary and visually mesmerizing, the JJ02 puts an emphasis not on decoration, but on function. By using the 6497, the canvas for Johannes Jahnke and Jean Fillon was quite large, allowing them to maximize both the scale of the components and the space around them. The result is a chronograph where one can easily identify what is going on. Hit the button and your action is directly translated into the turning of the column wheel, the movement of the sliding gear and clutch, as well as the obvious start of the seconds counter. Considering the goal of the Harrison series of C Ward watches is to bring a higher level of watch making to a more accessible market, developing a movement that is understandable speaks strongly to the brand’s philosophy. Simply put, by achieving this I find the watch to be a conceptual success.
Functionally speaking, this is not likely a chronograph you’ll be timing races with, it’s a study in watch making on the wrist. This is for a few of reasons: 1. The Unitas 6497 movement has a frequency of 18,000 bph / 2.5 hz, which translates to 5 ticks per second. Compared to the industry standard Valjoux 7750, with a frequency of 28,800 / 4 hz or 8 ticks per second, this makes for a lower precision chronograph (as in it can’t be read to the same fraction of a second) and a choppier sweep of the chronograph seconds counter. 2. The dial is oriented towards time telling not recording as it lacks markers with a greater precision than 1 second. 3. The nature of a single pusher chronograph is that it only goes through one series of actions: start, stop, reset. That being said, for less precise needs, it is a perfectly well functioning chronograph and let’s be honest, that isn’t the point of the watch anyway. Also, stylistically, in both the design of the watch and the implementation of a single pusher, the watch hearkens to an earlier era of the chronograph, making the lack of precision actually more appropriate.
I found using the single pusher through the crown to be an oddly pleasant sensation. There is something very intuitive about pushing a button located at the position of the crown to control all of the functions of the chronograph. The button itself also has a very well tuned feeling, requiring enough pressure that it would not be accidentally pressed, yet not so much as to be stiff. The large flat face of the button is also larger than most chrono pushers, giving it more a substantial and viscerally enjoyable button sensation.
The C900 is a fairly large and robust watch for one with relatively dressy styling. The stainless steel case measures 43mm in diameter, 51mm lug-to-lug and has a towering 15.9mm height. Of course, the case isn’t oversized so much as it is scaled in proportion to the larger than average movement inside. The design is very straightforward with a classic profile that consists of slab sides and gently curved lugs. The bezel, which is narrow but tall, has a graceful curve that leads the eye nicely into the domed sapphire crystal.
An elegant but simple mix of finishes elevates the case nicely. The bezel, tops of the lugs and the case back are all pristinely polished. The side of the case is brushed laterally which, given the height of the watch, does a good job of breaking up the sheen of the case and adding more visual intrigue. Case finishing is certainly something to consider on a watch in this price range and while the case doesn’t scream luxury, the styling and finishing are well executed and appropriate.
The crown/pusher at 3 is also nicely executed. It’s a fairly large crown, measuring 8 x 5mm, but it does not feel disproportionate to the case. Also, considering that the watch is hand wound, it is nice to have something solid to grasp. The crown has a simple toothed design to make it more tactile on the sides and a CW logo on the flat side. As I mentioned before, the chrono pusher actually runs through the center of the crown, so while it looks like a solid piece, it actually has a piston/cylinder design.