Hands-On with the Christopher Ward C5 Malvern 595

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The rules around exactly what makes a dress watch seem to vary depending on who you ask, but based on most interpretations the C5 Malvern 595 would certainly qualify. Modestly sized, clean, time only, and only 5.95 millimeters thick, the C5 Malvern 595 is delightfully thin for a mechanical timepiece, especially one available for a good wedge under $1,000.

Christopher Ward make confident use of their latest branding effort as the Malvern 595 represents an earnest effort in producing an immaculately crisp dress watch. The cleaner a watch dial becomes, the more consequential each small design choice becomes, and the balance here between brand prominence and overall elegance and restraint is handled admirably well.

Slimness is the name of the game when it comes to Christopher Ward’s latest dress watch.
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$680

Hands-On with the Christopher Ward C5 Malvern 595

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Peseux/ETA 7001
Dial
Opaline (also grey option)
Lume
n/a
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Leather or Milanese Mesh
Water Resistance
30 atm
Dimensions
39mm x 46mm
Thickness
5.95mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/pull
Warranty
Yes – 5 Years
Price
$680

Let’s start with the obvious. The Christopher Ward C5 Malvern 595 is so named because of its 5.95-millimeter thickness. Bulgari may have recently unveiled an automatic winding watch at Basel that’s even thinner at just 5.15 millimeters, but make no mistake, the Malvern is still notably slim in hand and on the wrist.

The combination of an all-polished case and flowing lines exude a deliberate sense of elegance. This isn’t meant to be a statement watch like some of the peacocking wrist-trinkets out there, but one that will blend in with a smart shirt and a nicely cut suit without drawing attention to itself. If you want a dress watch that will turn heads in the board room, this probably isn’t it.

With a diameter of 39 millimeters, the case isn’t overly small. On paper it’s probably as large as I would want a watch in this style to be. Other watches from Christopher Ward’s stable of dressier pieces—such as the 40-millimeter pieces from the brand’s C9 range—have felt more substantial than svelte, but that’s not the case here. Even if you think 39 millimeters is going to look large on your wrist, I expect it would still wear comfortably thanks to the downward curvature of the slender lugs.

The crown is small, unobtrusive, and etched with Christopher Ward’s twin flags motif. I wouldn’t go so far as to say winding is a pleasure, but it’s certainly not a chore either. As you might expect, the crown is of the push/pull variety, and at 3 ATM the watch has no serious water resistance to speak of. Two dial options are available, described as Opalin White or Cool Grey. The Grey version boasts a more contemporary look, but the White would be my choice for a dressier piece. As expected, the Opalin dial isn’t a brilliant white, but rather it has a soft and silvery tone. The softness also extends to the shape of the dial, which curves downward toward the edges. The thin, jet-black hands, a familiar sight on Christopher Ward’s dressier watches, also have a slight downward kink at their tips.

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The sparseness of the dial is interrupted only by the long and slender hour markers, which extend nearly to the perimeter of the dial, and the Christopher Ward name positioned on the left-hand side, partly displacing the nine o’clock marker. The typeface and placement is sure to be a point of contention. Christopher Ward often face criticism for their rebranding efforts, both for the frequency of those efforts and the results. Without being a huge fan of the current Christopher Ward branding, but also as someone who doesn’t feel that the branding necessarily makes or breaks a watch, I feel that it works here. The simplicity and roundness of the font coupled with the asymmetry that its placement creates avoids the dial from becoming too austere.

Inside the Malvern 595 is the ETA/Peseux 7001—a caliber we’ve covered in more detail here. Selecting a low profile movement was crucial for Christopher Ward to achieve the desired thinness of the watch here. At just 2.5 millimeters thick, the ETA 7001 is almost a millimeter thinner than the more often used 2801-2, also from ETA. Although the 7001 brings extra slimness to the table, it does offer a little less in terms of beat rate, which is a slightly slower six-ticks-per-second, or 21,600 bph.

The movement is fairly simple and sparsely decorated, but not at all bad to look at through the sapphire exhibition case back.

In addition to two dial colors, there are several strap options to pick from.  There’s a Milanese bracelet, and as far as leather goes there’s black, brown, and tan, all fitted with a branded tang buckle. My choice would always be for a leather strap, and in this case the leather is very soft and supple right out of the box, and it comes in a little cheaper than the mesh bracelet, too. On leather, this is a watch you can strap on and simply forget you are wearing within minutes. The black leather with matching stitching, as shown on the model reviewed here, makes for a very formal look. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but I would be tempted to opt for one of the other available strap options just to give it a little more warmth.The width between the lugs is 20 millimeters and the supplied leather features Christopher Ward’s quick-release spring bars integrated into the strap itself. That’s a nice touch, but unless the strap you are switching it out for also has quick-release bars, you’ll need to dig out the spring bar tool anyway.

Overall, the Christopher Ward C5 Malvern 595 presents itself as a thin and elegant dress watch, and it comprehensively lives up to that target. The case lines, dimensions, and purity of the dial create a watch so refined and chaste that it almost borders on being too formal. Thankfully, the little touches like the off-white coloring and the (potentially divisive) off-center branding bring it back from the edge and give it just enough character.

A lot of dress watches can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion, but I feel that is going to be a little difficult to achieve with the Malvern 595. At its core, it is still a very formal watch. That said, if you are in the market for a really sharp and slim mechanical dress piece, it will be tough to find a better one for less than the $680 asking price. Christopher Ward

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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