Introducing the C Ward C9 5 Day Small-Seconds

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Nearly a year ago Christopher Ward announced their game changing SH21 movement. In a single move, granted one that was many years in the making, C. Ward changed the watch industry, demonstrating that in-house Swiss-made movements with robust features weren’t just for haute brands and giant luxury corporations. They showed that at a price point where many luxury brands are still using Sellitas and ETAs (if they can get them) as well as quartz, that a relatively small on-line only watch brand could manufacture a 5-day chronometer… which is to say not just a movement, but one that would command a higher than average price. In the year since, they’ve taken the movement and used it in a few different models, starting with their 43mm C9 5-Day, then in a much requested 40mm model, they followed that with a limited edition 5-day diver, and lastly in a very ambitious special edition pilot’s watch.

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It was in this last watch, the LE C8 P7350, that we saw the first of what is hopefully many variations on the SH21; a small-seconds display and a switch from automatic to manual. However, that watch came in at a much higher price point as it contained relics of a WWII Spitfire, making that watch less obtainable. Well, much to my, and hopefully your, excitement, C. Ward has just released a new watch featuring said movement at a much more reasonable price; and it might be one of the nicest C Wards to date.

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The C9 5 Day Small-Seconds Chronometer 40mm, C9 5D SS-40 for short, takes the 40mm C9 case we’ve seen before, but rather than just adding a small-seconds to their existing dial, they went a new and quite classical direction. Touching on a marine chronometer style, which is befitting an English brand that has paid homage to John Harrison on occasion, the dial is crisp white with a primary index of printed black Roman numerals. The numerals are tall and slender, each rotating per the degree of the hour. Instead of a 3 numeral there is a date window that occupies the same amount of space, keeping the dial balanced. On the periphery of the dial is a railroad index for the individual minutes, with slightly bolder lines at intervals of 5. This adds a nice finishing border to the dial, and gives the watch a traditional feel.

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Just above 6 is the small-seconds dial which is slightly recessed, featuring a simple index with black lines per second, longer at intervals of five. There are no numerals, keeping the sub-dial very clean and not over-weighting it on the dial as a whole. I’m a huge fan of small-seconds dials as I find they simultaneously simplify things, since central seconds aren’t really needed for telling time, while making a watch look more instrument like. Completing the dial, they smartly went with blued-steel leaf shaped hands that have fluid and elegant lines, which soften the overall feel of the watch, and make it more personable. One detail, or lack thereof, that I have to applaud them for is the modest use of text. No “5-day” no “COSC” no “Chronometer”… just a logo, “London” and the “Swiss Made” tag at 6; their standard attributes. Considering what’s inside, this shows quite a lot of restraint. I almost wonder if too much?

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Inside, of course, is the SH21 SS caliber, with its twin barrels for a mighty 120-hr power reserve. Apart from the already noted details, the movement has 27-jewels, hacking small-seconds and a frequency of 28,800bph. In a move I like, though might annoy some, they removed the rotor making this a manual wound version. I like this for a few reasons. First, the act of winding a watch is enjoyable, and keeping it wound makes you interact with your watch more. Second, by removing the rotor and the automatic winding mechanism the bulk of the movement becomes more visible and the movement as a whole gets thinner. Lastly, since this watch in particular boasts such a large power reserve, the constant winding of a rotor seems redundant. Sticking with their true-to-British decoration scheme, the SH21 has flat-ground surfaces, for an almost brushed look. It’s worth reading their page on this approach, as people often consider the SH21 un or under decorated, when it’s a very intentional approach: SH21 Finishing.

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Given the size and design of the movement, in this small-seconds, manual wound variety, the SH21 bares some similarity to the Unitas movement we more often see in this type of watch. It’s worth noting though that despite having the name “Marine Chronometer”, very few are actually chronometer rated (and none have the SH21’s reserve, a date and hacking seconds) making the C9 5D SS a gem for those who like the style.

The C9 5D SS-40 comes in at $1,785, with your choice of black, brown or blue gator-embossed leather strap with their signature Bader deployment clasp. That actually puts the price of this watch slightly below the automatic 40mm model, making it a truly remarkable value. Regardless, for an in-house 5-day chronometer, a price tag of under $2k is beyond reproach. With its classic and refined styling, appropriate sizing and powerhouse movement, the C9 5D SS-40 could very well be C. Ward’s best offering to date. This is one I could definitely see on my wrist.

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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  • This is a very nice looking watch and is a proper size. I’m not really a fan of Roman numeral dials, but I do like that they used IV instead of IIII for 4. I feel that the date window might be a bit unnecessary, but it’s placement is thought out.

    Overall, it’s a great model from C Ward, but it’s still taking some getting used to their recent upmarket pricing trend. It makes their sales even more enticing though.

    • Caleb Kay

      The standard Roman numeral for 4 is, in fact, IV.

      • Yes, I am quite aware. It is not standard to use IV on watches.

      • CortexUK

        Search “watchmaker’s four”.

  • Tim Seren

    It’s almost perfect..(that date window though..)

  • sfbaydawg221

    Put Arabic numerals on them, get rid of the date window and this might be the Marine/Deck watch that I have been looking for. But they do need to do something about that “Chr. Ward” logo on the face though. Why not just have “CW”?

    • Joe

      Beat me to it. I was about to say the same thing.

      • CortexUK

        Me too!

  • Curmudgeon

    C Ward really nailed it with this one. It’s just about perfect. This isn’t just another internet brand; It’s a brand that can proudly sit next to all the best on the market. In fact, they may well be one of the most exciting brands available today and probably tomorrow. One word of advice: Incorporate a power reserve indicator with this great new movement.

  • Chris Allen

    One of the aesthetic choices I never cared for in CWs in the past were the huge counterweights on the hour and minute hands. I have also seen similar comments on forums. I get the impression that they are listening to feedback, and reacting appropriately. This watch is immediately attractive to me due to this small change. On my short list for sure.

  • Julius Swerving

    I’m a little disappointed in the decoration and the date window. I’m not quite sure what market CW is trying to capture with this style at this price point.

  • A great feat at that price point! The styling is still a little off, a little bland. For the kind of innovations this brand is making with their movements, I believe a little more bedazzling to their dials and cases will add fervor to their momentum.

  • somethingnottaken

    I generally prefer Arabic numerals; however, the Roman numerals harken back to the marine chronometers from which this watch obviously draws inspiration. The blue strap pleasantly complements the blued hands. I think I’ll have to add it to my wishlist – I’d like to add an SH21 to my collection, and so far this is my favourite watch containing the movement.

  • john vittory

    I recently bought bailey stainless steel watch. It’s very
    sophisticated, perfect for any occasion.

    All types of watches like stainless steel watches, multi function watches,
    automatic and day date watches etc are available. Buy now at visit
    http://www.omaxwatchcompany.com.

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