Introducing the Christopher Ward Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph with the Cal. JJ02

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Pilot’s watches as a genre are dominated by reinterpretations of old designs. In fact, what we’d consider as the archetypal pilot traces its roots all the way back to WWII-era German watches, and they were produced by IWC, A. Lange & Söhne, Laco, Stowa, and Wempe. For the most part, watchmakers have tinkered with this framework ever since, but the general pilot look has largely remained the same for 70 years.

Christopher Ward’s latest timepiece pulls from a lesser known source—specifically a Junghans cockpit clock used in the Luftwaffe’s mainstay Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter (sometimes erroneously called the Me 109). The new C9 Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph handles the aesthetic deftly, creating something that feels fresh and inventive while keeping its roots firmly in the 1940s. Let’s take a deep dive into the details.

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The case of the C9 Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph is, in a word, hefty. At 43mm by 51mm, it’s already on the larger side, but it’s the thickness that really puts this one over the top. At just a hair under a full 1mm, it’s sure to carry miles of wrist presence. In terms of shape, the Me 109 is pure classic Flieger, with a profile dominated by a narrow bezel and long tapering lugs from above. The defining factor from the side, then, is the oversized combination crown and monopusher. Around back, however, is the most stunning view of all. The entire backside is devoted to an oversized sapphire display back, beautifully exhibiting the in-house Caliber JJ02 (more on that later).

The Junghans inspiration shows through most clearly in the design of the dial. This starts from the very outer edges, with a deep, steeply angled inner minutes bezel. Moving inward, the bold, highly legible hours track is flanked by classic Arabic numerals at 12 and six. The wide-set sub-dials at three and nine fit into the overall flow beautifully. Register text is large enough to be easily readable but small enough to give them a light, airy feel. The real highlights here, however, are the cockpit clock inspired hands. Bold, geometric, and absolutely unique, the terraced hour and minutes hands are unmistakable ‘30s/‘40s Art Deco pieces that pack as much function as they have style. Easily readable at a glance, these blocky shapes also carry a massive load of luminous paint. This leads to some impressive low-light visibility.The exterior of the C9 Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph is attractive enough, but the real beauty of this watch lies within. At the heart of the Me 109 is the in-house Caliber JJ02, a 30-minute, running-seconds chronograph movement with a Unitas base and designed by Christopher Ward’s wunderkind Johannes Jahnke. What’s more, this new caliber ties the watch to the inspiration in a surprising way. The original cockpit clock is powered by a Unitas 6497 movement, designed in the early 1940s by a man named Jean Fillon. It just so happens that many years later, Fillon was Johannes Jahnke’s mentor in watchmaking, working closely with his pupil well into Jahnke’s career. In fact, Fillon helped to design the Caliber JJ02 alongside Jahnke, featuring many ideas he had pioneered with the Unitas 6497.

The base movement of the JJ02 is the Unitas 6497.

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There’s more than just a cosmetic connection to the mighty Messerschmitt Me 109 here; the movement itself shares many structural similarities. Even without the spiritual connections, the Caliber JJ02 is no slouch. Mating a respectable 40-hour power reserve to a -15/+15 second daily tolerance, this is a solidly equipped chronograph, especially for a small brand’s movement. What really sets it apart, however, is the finish. The balance bridge, chronograph bridge, and chronograph module are all finished in eye-catching DLC black. It’s a contrast that you don’t see very often, and love it or hate it, it’s certainly dramatic.

Christopher Ward only offers one choice of a strap for the C9 Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph, but it’s a beauty. C Ward themselves describe it as “a premium hand-finished oak leather strap.” In practice, it’s a gorgeous tobacco brown with incredible pull-up and rich color variation. The clasp is sandblasted DLC to match the case, keeping the military, low-reflection finish intact. It’s hard to think of a better match for this watch. The color works beautifully with everything: the case, the dial color, the patina lume, and the material itself feels era-appropriate.Like many big modern Fliegers, the C9 Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph can be a bit intimidating to wear, not only just for the 43mm width, but more importantly the 15.7mm thickness. It’s a big, solid chunk of black metal on the wrist, and that’s not always for everybody. But for those who can handle a larger watch, it’s sure to catch some attention.

Overall, the C9 Me 109 Single Pusher Chronograph is a beautifully executed homage to a different piece of wartime history than the norm. It’s not exactly cheap at $3,370, but if you want one act fast: only 100 of these will be made, and it’s hard to believe they won’t go quickly. Christopher Ward

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Hailing from Redondo Beach, California, Sean’s passion for design and all things mechanical started at birth. Having grown up at race tracks, hot rod shops and car shows, he brings old-school motoring style and a lifestyle bent to his mostly vintage watch collection. He is also the Feature Editor and Videographer for Speed Revolutions.
seanpaullorentzen
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