Christopher Ward continues to develop and surprise. In the last few years we have seen several higher end watches for the brand, all of which challenge our notions of what can be done in the affordable/accessible spectrum. Up to this point, the watches we’ve seen have all been focused on interesting mechanical complications, specifically a jump hour, mono pusher chronograph and dual 24-hr time.
For their most recent delve into the higher end, however, they focused on materials rather than mechanics.
The C Ward C1000 Typhoon Chronograph marks the brands first attempt at a ceramic watch. Constructed of black ceramic over a titanium sub-frame, the C1000 promises to be seven times harder than steel for great scratch resistance, light and, in their own words, “virtually indestructible”. While I didn’t test that claim, it is bold and certainly makes for a tempting timepiece. Apart from the material, the watch also features a slightly modified Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph, sapphire crystal and clean modern pilot aesthetics, inspired by the genre and Typhoon jet fighters.
While there are other brands that use ceramic out there, few are doing so, at least in a pilot’s chronograph, at $2,060. The first brand that comes to mind with a similar product is IWC, though their ceramic cased chronos start at a much higher price. That said, it is up against stiff competition in the hardened steel market from brands like Damasko and Sinn, who both make modern pilot chronographs with Valjoux 7750 insides at comparable prices.
Christopher Ward C1000 Typhoon Review
Case: Ceramic and Titanium
Movement: Valjoux 7750
Water Res.: 50m
Dimensions: 42 x 51.5 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 8 x 4mm
The design of the C1000’s case is that of a tried and true pilot; simple, clean and modern with a broad bezel and long, elegantly curved lugs. The case measures 42 x 51.5 x 15mm making it a sensible size for a modern pilot chronograph; big but not too big. I was actually surprised, and very pleased, to see that they went with 42mm, as their C8 pilot’s are 44mm, which I feel is a bit too large for practical wear.
Naturally, the real appeal of the case is the material. Ceramic is interesting, though a subtle change from PVD or DLC steel or titanium. From a far, there is nothing that distinguishes it though up close, the color and finish are a bit different. It’s less metallic and more matte and even. It’s also not quite as deep of a black, stopping at a very dark coal. The best feature is its scratch resistance, though that is an invisible detail. One concern is that all though its a super hard material, ceramic is known to be more brittle, fracturing or shattering on impact. C Ward does call it “virtually indestructible” so perhaps their ceramic has a higher elasticity than others. The ceramic is also around a “titanium sub-frame”, which might add durability.
On the right side of the case are the chronograph pushers and a large diamond crown, all of which are made of titanium with a black coating. The diamond crown measures 8mm at its widest point and has an modern take on the classic crown shape. It’s a perfectly smooth and round, relying on the steep sides to make it easy to grasp. On the sloped inside there are some subtle grooves, which C Ward refers to as “after-burner detailing”. While a nice detail, they are very hard to see.
The coolest detail of the case, and perhaps the watch as a whole, is on the case back. Embedded in the ceramic is a beautifully engraved image of a Typhoon jet. This is perhaps the most detailed engraving I’ve seen on a watch, with a nearly fully rendered plane. We’re talking 3D details, not just a line drawing in a void. Everything from the dome of the cockpit to the break lines of the rudders are visible. Around the plane is deeply etched, black filled text reading “Typhoon FGR4 Multi-Role Combat” and “Per Ardua Ad Astra” (Through adversity to the stars).
Like the case design, the dial stays pretty true to the modern pilot motif. On the matte black surface are a few simple indexes and sub-dials. The primary index consists of clean white numerals for the minutes/seconds at intervals of 5 with the classic triangle flanked by dots at 12. Outside of this index are lines in white and powder blue.
The C1000 is powered by a Valjoux 7750, which in it’s classic form has active seconds at 9, 30-minute totalizer at 12, 12-hour totalizer at 6 and day-date at 3. On the C1000 they simplified it, removing the active seconds and date function. This makes for a cleaner, symmetrical dial, albeit one that is a bit less active and quite. Perhaps at 9 they could have done something akin to what Mühle did on the Terranuat 1 trail, which featured a rotating triangle. Not a full sub-dail, but still something to add motion. They did utilize the left over space at 3 for their logo, which seems like the appropriate space on the dial.
Both the 30-minute and 12-hour sundials are fairly large on the C1000, being further emphasized by gunmetal applied rings which encircle them. On the rings are black triangles also meant as “after-burner detailing”. At first glance I thought the triangles were cut outs, but unfortunately they are just painted on, which feels a bit flat and perhaps cheap. The indexes of the sub-dials are straightforward lines and numerals for an easy to read, but slightly plain execution. The 12-hour index, however, is colored light pink and blue referring to a “low visibility RAF roundel”, which mixes things up.
The hour and minute hands are modern roman swords with a thin and aggressive design. Both are gunmetal grey with lume filling. The gunmetal was a nice choice as it contrasts the dial just enough to stand out. The chronograph seconds is also gunmetal, with a white wing tip and a “delta” wing counter-weight which refers to the shape of the Typhoon. Both of the sub-dials have simple gunmetal stick hands. The lume on the dial is likely BGW9 Superluminova, which glows blue. The hands, numerals and blue lines all glow decently, though not super bright.
All in all, I think the dial is well executed for a clean design, but it lacks character. Given the ferociousness of the Typhoon in both name and appearance, I would have liked a more aggressive approach. One that utilized bolder markers and more texture. This one is a bit flat, with a very generic font for the numerals. The applied ring around the sub-dials almost teases as to where it could have gone. The low light roundel is different and stands out, but is also a bit soft. They recently released a version without the rondel, which is a bit meaner looking.
The C1000 is powered by the staple Swiss automatic chronograph, the Valjoux 7750. It’s a 25-jewel automatic with manual winding, hacking seconds, day/date, chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers and a frequency of 28,800 bph. In the C1000, they have modified the movement to have no active seconds or day/date. Curiously, they actually seem to have removed the date function, rather than simply covered it over, as the crown only pulls out to one position. The 7750 is a standard for a reason, it’s reliable and well made.
Straps and Wearability
The C1000 comes mounted on a 20mm black “high density webbing” two-piece strap, which appears to be nylon mounted to either leather or filler with a leather backing. It has a straight cut design with a squared end and a black stitching. Aesthetically, it makes sense with the watch, coming across as rugged and military inspired. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it particularly nice to wear. It’s stiff and doesn’t seem to want to form to the wrist, so it forces the watch to sit oddly. It’s also not a very high-end or lush strap, which I would expect on a watch this price. As a secondary offering perhaps for sportier needs, it’s not bad, but I would have liked a nice leather strap, like the ones they use on the much less expensive C8 MK II, as the primary. One very nice detail about the strap is the black titanium buckle. It’s very well machined, with sharp edges, nice bezels and hex screw details.
On the wrist, the C1000 wears well. I think 42mm is the right size for a modern pilot chronograph, large enough to be clear and bold, yet small enough to be sensible and versatile. Since the watch is matte black, it seems a bit smaller as well. The ceramic and titanium do mix together to create a lighter than expected watch, though the Valjoux 7750 grants it enough weight to feel solid. This too adds to the general comfort and long-term wearability once a more comfortable strap is in use. We tried the watch on one of our Olive Suede NYC NATOs, which while adding significant bulk and height, did secure the watch more comfortably.
The watch itself is fairly subtle in practice. The dial is low-key and legible, with nothing that really screams or is visible from afar. The matte black case is stealthy and subtle. Overall, it’s a sporty design, and though I’m inclined to say black watches are less formal, the C1000 could probably be pulled off with office attire. That said I’d be inclined to wear it with black jeans, black boots, a leather jacket and a grey shirt to bring out some of the more aggressive elements.
The Christopher Ward C1000 Typhoon is overall a well executed modern pilot’s chronograph with the added perk of being ceramic. That said, while I do like the watch, I just don’t love it. I don’t think it quite lives up to its name. The RAF Typhoon is a fierce war machine with a name that evokes a powerful, untamed and destructive force of nature. It’s a great starting point for a modern pilot’s watch, and I like that C Ward chose it for their first foray into ceramic, a modern and robust material. But, the styling of the watch is too plain and safe. It doesn’t have enough of its own personality (except as seen in the killer case back emblem) to stand apart from the Sinns, Damaskos, Archimedes, Stowas, Hamiltons etc… It’s surprisingly subtle and while definitely handsome in its own right, just didn’t leave a lasting impression.
The price is more or less what you can expect from a Swiss made watch with a 7750 inside (plenty of brands push these for around $4500), making the use of ceramic a decent value, though there are plenty of competitors. I do think more complexity in the dial would make it feel more like a $2k watch as would a better strap. The ceramic, while cool, isn’t a life-changer. It’s supposedly highly scratch resistant, which should keep the watch looking fresh and new for a long time, but in terms of presence, it’s just different, not better or worse. That said, if matte black is your thing, this nails it.
So, if you’re in the market for a modern pilot’s chronograph and ceramic intrigues you, then definitely look into the C1000. Between the two models available, the black edition would be the one I’d go for. The RAF rondel is cool in concept, but in practice it adds to very soft colors to a watch that needs more attitude, not less. More than anything else, I’m glad to see C Ward continue to push their capabilities. I hope they utilize the ceramic in other watch concepts, such as divers, to see where they can take the material.
by Zach Weiss