When Christopher Ward first announced the C9 5-Day SS Chronometer (SS for small seconds), I was immediately very excited. It took their awesome in-house 5-day chronometer movement, the SH21, modified it to be hand wound and feature small seconds at 6, put it in a modestly sized case, and styled it in the classic aesthetic of Marine Chronometers. In doing so, it combined a bunch of things I really liked into a very aesthetically pleasing package. To make things even more appealing, they gave it a very compelling price point of $1,780. Not cheap, but a solid value for what the watch offers. After all, no one else is offering anything close to a 5-day COSC movement at this price.
The watch is also was a bit of an interesting departure for the brand. While they’ve had the C9 line going for some time, the Marine Chronometer aesthetic is a change, but a very welcome one that makes a lot of sense for the brand. Other C9 watches are almost Art Deco in styling, but this watch speaks to a British heritage dating to John Harrison, who invented the Marine Chronometer in the first place. Thus, it sort of celebrates their own achievement with the SH21 as a milestone for the brand. No matter how you see it, it’s a very nice time piece, so lets take a closer look.
When you see a watch like this at this price point with an in house five day chronometer movement, executed this well, you realize how much pure profit there is built into the pricing of many similar watches from the big names. Sure, the finishing may be more elaborate or there might be a small premium on materials, but they become harder and harder to justify with each extra grand added to the price.
Hardly. Were this piece from a larger brand and priced a bit higher, you’d see transferred indexes, perhaps hand-applied as well.
You’d also see better finishing on the movement, with better technology. Omega, as an example, offers in-house movement with much more technology, better finish, and a more robust watch. Yes, their entry level in-house watch is roughly three times the price of this watch, but it also is at least three times the watch when you’re talking about finish, and the comparison of customer service is laughable. I doubt that CWard offers boutiques to try on their watches all over the world, where you can sip champagne or espresso while trying the watch of your choice on.
All of these things factor into the buying experience and cost involved in the watch. So yes, while you can get a COSC chronometer (which many other companies have stricter regulations, btw) for cheaper in this watch, there are definitely other considerations that you can get for your money.
Great write up, and IMHO the pick of the brand’s current offering. Interesting to see C.W. break from tradition regarding the Roman numeral IV rather than IIII. Makes me wonder if Harrison did the same? (fun research project!) Regarding the date window, in this case it makes sense as I could see myself making a mental note with it when to wind it next. Really, my only suggestion is to reduce the brand font size. This would imbue the watch with a sense of quite confidence reflecting it’s accomplished mechanics and classic aesthetics.
I agree with you that a reduction in the size of the branding (frankly, half-size) would really elevate this watch. There’s a typo, but you mean quiet confidence, and you’re right. I am reminded of Patek and the mistake they made in enlarging their logo and how it seems to cheapen their watches. I also agree that the use of proper Roman numerals is interesting and I think it’s much better. The incorrect ones for some kind of sketchy “aesthetic reason” just doesn’t fly when you look at this watch.
I prefere IV over IIII. If your going to use IIII instead of IV, why not use IIIIIIIIIIII in place of XII?
IIII was used over IV to balance the dial traditionally I believe. Its to mirror the heavy type of VIII on the opposite side of the dial
I’ve also read somewhere that it was to avoid confusion between IV (4) and VI (6)
Lose the date and replace with a power reserve indicator. Orient did just that, in house, with the Monarch and at a fraction of the price.
With the 120 power reserve, this watch is a bargain. I think Orient Monarch just has around 40 hours reserve so the price is much cheaper. I also think this Christopher Ward looks much more elegant. Just the position of the date aperture is a bit annoying.
I agree it is a good looking watch, looks very much like my late father’s Services pocket watch, but for me I can do without the fiddly tedium of changing the date every 2 months.
Love it. Could do without the date on thus one but at least the date window looks big enough.
$1,780 isn’t cheap, but the watch represents great value. 120 hours power reserve, COSC certified in-house chronometer – simply WOW! However, I find Stowa Marine more elegant and attractive from the front:
So torn between this and the Nomos Tangente 38 for my next watch.
The NOMOS is leagues ahead of this watch. Who knows if CWard will even be around in a decade to service this watch; NOMOS has the history to stand behind their creations.
Beautiful watch design with a logo that screams for a redesign and reduction in size on the dial. The Chr. abbreviation is silly and pretentious. Looks like the typesetter underestimated the space and shrugged it off with a period. Slapping it on this elegant design is like a bumper sticker on a Bentley.