Review: Christopher Ward’s The Twelve 36MM (and 40MM)

Last month, I had the opportunity to put together a list of the three watches I would choose for a collection if I had a budget of $5,000. Though I stand by my choices, selected through detailed research and great care, I have one small confession to make: none of those watches had ever graced my wrist. Fearing the imaginary cries of “j’accuse!” lest my secret be discovered, I tried on one of the three at a local authorized dealer within the week. This second opportunity was graciously made possible by the editors at Worn & Wound. I’m two for three now, so thus begins a personal journey predetermined by the Horological Fates.

For this review, I lived a full day in the life with The Twelve. Two of these were the highly anticipated 36mm reference – one on the classic integrated bracelet, and the other on the rubber strap option. I also sampled the 40mm stainless steel reference on the bracelet in order to properly compare them. My wrist circumference, for reference, is about 5.75 inches. Christopher Ward’s goal in this 36mm launch was greater inclusivity towards women and other smaller-wristed folks, and I’m uniquely situated to consider both sizing options from this perspective. Each watch spent a day (or more) on wrist, so I was able to assess my true feelings towards them after the immediate New Watch Glee wore off.

As a newbie reviewer, one helpful piece of advice I received was to pay attention to first impressions, and run with that if it felt right. While these watches certainly make a statement their first time on wrist, I’m glad I spent time living with them. The octagonal case, with its squared-off lugs leading into the bracelet fit differently than most standard-lugged watches that make up my collection. My experience with integrated bracelet sports watches is slim, and it really does take a moment to adjust to the general fit. Integrated bracelets add a new dimension to the conversation when considering a watch, as the bracelet must be factored heavily into the overall impression. Whereas a watch with a subpar strap can still hold its own in a world where aftermarket options are abundant, a watch with an integrated bracelet needs to be assessed as a package.


Review: Christopher Ward’s The Twelve 36MM (and 40MM)

Stainless steel
Sellita SW200-1
Hands and markers
Integrated steel bracelet or rubber strap
Water Resistance
100 meters
36 x 40.8mm
Lug Width
Screw down

When considering The Twelve, it can be beneficial to situate it in the larger framework of integrated sports watches, which have fascinated enthusiasts for decades. Gérald Genta’s revolutionary Royal Oak and Nautilus designs in the 1970s were the first examples of luxury brands legitimizing steel as a medium. These references, and all its subsequent iterations, are inherently industrial. They’re feats of engineering – a product that must blend case and bracelet together in one silhouette – as well as a break from traditional elegance. For this reason, many of the iconic options are exceptionally costly, making them virtually unobtainable to the average collector. Aside from higher price points, size is an additional barrier, with many of the options hovering around 40mm or more. The nature of integrated bracelets often makes them wear larger than their conventional counterparts, due to the case shape and lug width, and this can alienate segments of the consumer market.

Truthfully, integrated bracelet sports watches were not something to which I’d given adequate consideration before sampling The Twelve. Aside from a G-Shock GA2100 (“the Casioak”) and a 70s-inspired gold Casio world time, my tastes tend to veer towards practical field watches on straps. Bracelets in general are new to me, having finally bought and sized one earlier this autumn in a departure from my usual habits. 

There is something quietly luxurious about the feeling of a watch on a bracelet: the heft, the visual presence, and the aesthetic connection to the trends of haute horlogerie shaping the zeitgeist of this hobby we love. Integrated bracelet sports watches, more specifically, effectively address the gap between casual and class in a versatile, finely engineered package. With this new 36mm launch, Christopher Ward offers a way into that market at a relatively accessible price point, in a size flattering to a large majority of enthusiasts.

From photos online, I had initial concerns about how the textured dial would pair with the twelve-sided bezel from which the watch derives its name. Each of these features seemed to add its own sense of busyness, and I wondered if both together would be overwhelming in-person. However, the cross-flag patterning was actually much smaller than macro pictures of The Twelve led me to believe. Though the angular case and dial are a lot to take in, the visual dissonance I had been worried about was unfounded. Each feature stood on its own and also played nicely as a team. From certain perspectives, the case looked rounded, and it wasn’t until the light caught a polished edge that I was reminded of the complexity in craftsmanship. The textured dial has gotten much of the hype (for good reason), but the mix of brushed, polished, and sandblasted finishing on the case is truly stunning.

One of my favorite things about The Twelve are the wide array of colors, with the Frosted Lichen option being my personal favorite. It’s a light, almost seafoam green, and looks great on the color-matched rubber strap. A close second was the Glacier Blue reference. Though each colorway would certainly stand out in any season, the majority of the offerings skew towards cool tones. The blues, whites, and grays are a natural addition to a winter wardrobe. Why should summer watches get all the fun?

The 40mm option, though it looked large compared to my wrist, actually fit very comfortably. However, there are two modifications to note between both sizes. Christopher Ward lists a weight difference of nine grams between the 40mm and 36mm on the bracelet, and the 40mm did feel noticeably more top-heavy on my wrist. The 36mm felt very balanced, in terms of both weight and proportion. Though I wouldn’t hesitate to add the 40mm to my personal collection, a friend remarked over drinks that the 36mm “just looked right.” One other difference between the 40mm and 36mm is the lack of a date window, present at 6 o’clock on the 40mm and absent on its smaller counterpart. This is one of the few instances where I defer to form over function. I think the date window on the 40mm option is practical. The window is color-matched to the dial and provides a sense of depth. However, I don’t think it’s entirely necessary, and my personal preference leans towards a dateless option for optimal dial symmetry. I think leaving the date off the 36mm was the right call, as the window would have crowded an already small (and busy) dial.

The water resistance is a solid 100 meters, but that might come at a cost. The embossed crown is nestled between two elongated crown guards. The edges of the crown itself are sharply fluted, which provides grip but is also a bit uncomfortable to maneuver while setting the time. Though the following statement may upset the screw down crown crowd (it’s a thing): I think this is a weak point. I understand Christopher Ward’s ambition with this watch. Their mission was to create a “tough outdoor companion” that is also “at home indoors,” and The Twelve was crafted to live in that intersection. Water resistance is an integral part of that ambition.

However, the 38 hour power reserve meant I would put the watch down after a day of work and would typically need to set the time again whenever I switched between options. I found the screw down crown an irksome barrier after a few days with these watches on wrist, especially when I began to think about the cost/benefit analysis of this feature. High water resistance is a nice perk in a dive watch, or even a field watch that might see some action. Though Christopher Ward alludes to the Go Anywhere, Do Anything (GADA) nature of The Twelve, I found myself wondering if anyone would really choose an integrated bracelet sports watch to be their adventure companion of choice. The lower-end power reserve would have been mitigated if the time was easy to set. Likewise, the screw down crown tucked tight between crown guards would have been less tedious to navigate if the user could go longer intervals between setting the time. This point very much comes down to personal philosophy in how I would wear this watch. If The Twelve is purchased to be someone’s daily driver, this would be a non-issue.


On the bracelet, the watch is impeccably executed. The invisible butterfly clasp and slight taper allows for The Twelve to all but disappear on the wrist. You know the scenes in fantasy movies where a soon-to-be hero picks up his custom sword and admires its balance? I understood the spirit of that feeling with this watch on my wrist. But instead of wielding something crafted of Valyrian steel, I was clicking together both pieces of a Christopher Ward bracelet. Some have to slay dragons… others need to review watches. No quest-shaming here!

My preference, having tried both the bracelet and the rubber strap, is absolutely for the integrated bracelet. When sized to my wrist, it stayed perfectly in place. The rubber strap was buttery soft and gave the watch a more casual vibe. However, the 36mm option kept pulling slightly to one side or the other on my wrist, even when secured tightly. This is likely less of a matter of wrist-to-case ratio and more about anatomy and the width of the strap. While being fairly small, my wrist is also very flat and this can sometimes lead to watches laying off-center. As with integrated bracelets, finding a perfect fit with integrated rubber straps can be difficult, but the design of the links on the bracelet made for a fit that was tailored in a way the rubber strap was not.

Though I will often take watches off at the office and lay them at my desk while typing on the keyboard, I did not feel any need to do so with The Twelve (36mm). The bracelet didn’t scrape against the desk and the watch remained so light I barely noticed it was there. One thing I did notice and enjoyed was when the light caught the Nordic Blue dial in a way that, due to the length and angle of the indices, formed an optical illusion of a perfect concentric circle. It gave me a newfound appreciation of the symmetry of the 36mm reference and Christopher Ward’s incredible attention to detail. Even the most obsessive… I mean… fastidious enthusiast, would be hard-pressed to find a flaw in this design. I’m normally a fan of numerals of some kind for legibility’s sake, but they just weren’t needed here. The hour hand nearly touched each marker and the minute track was very clear. Both of these things, coupled with the Super LumiNova® on the indices and hands, made it easy to read throughout the night.

Overall, The Twelve would be a great addition to any collector hopping on the integrated sports watch train, or one in the market for a universally flattering fit. Certainly, its build, style, and general quality exceed its price point. Though this piece of advice is more difficult with Christopher Ward than it typically is with other brands whose boutiques are ubiquitous in major cities, this is a watch its intended audience may want to try on in-person before taking the plunge. The 36mm design of The Twelve is absolutely a push in the right direction as the watch world slowly opens its arms to women and begins its flirtation with the more modest sizing of decades past. However, the nature of this particular watch lends itself to a fit that can’t be properly conveyed by the specs alone.

My experience with The Twelve made me appreciate the fact I can love a watch for what it is, even if I don’t have the coveted “aha!” moment the first time on wrist. It was a slow burn, and by the end of my time with both the 36mm and 40mm versions, I could see incorporating these pieces into my current collection if I decided to add an integrated bracelet to the mix. 

Having experienced this watch as a companion to my daily routine, I can confidently say that I would leave my Three for $5k nominations untouched. Though I wouldn’t choose an integrated bracelet sports watch as a standalone adventure buddy despite its specs, I think The Twelve is a sensible choice for a collection of any size. There are very few situations it would look out of place, which is part of the core appeal of this style of watch. And for the price point and quality craftsmanship that put Christopher Ward on our collective radar, this integrated bracelet sports watch, specifically, is an excellent choice.

Finally, for those smaller-wristed amongst us debating both sizes, it may come down to just how much attention-grabbing you prefer in your watches. As one gentleman in a watch forum commented on my wrist check of the 40mm, “that looks like Ironman’s blaster thing on you!” This is also now the metric by which I judge wrist presence… trademark pending. If you’re not into that BWE (Big Watch Energy) per se, the 36mm option might be exactly the thing you’re looking for. Your watch-curious friends of all wrist sizes will thank you. Christopher Ward

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Meg is a Colorado-based collector navigating the watch world as a Zillennial twentysomething. Though she appreciates anything quirky or practical, she has a particular love of field watches and chronographs. When she’s not posting #wristchecks you can find her reading about military history, training as a competitive Irish dancer, and exploring the remarkable state she calls home.