Last year, when we reviewed the C9 Harrison Jumping Hour, we made sure to put an emphasis on how significant it was for a brand like Christopher Ward, who is known for affordable watches sold direct to consumers, to develop a proprietary in-house complication. In doing so, they proved to a fairly divided watch world that mechanically savvy watches, watches with features normally left for the high-end, can be made at affordable prices. They also proved that their stake in the watch industry is greater than people likely expected. Many brands would be satisfied with just having a line of successful affordable watches for men and women. But Christopher Ward decided to go beyond that and delve into true watch making. Getting into the mechanics of the watches, reworking things with the aid of a young master watchmaker, Johannes Jahnke, and creating pieces that are unique inside and out.
And the C9 was only the beginning. To follow up that achievement, Christopher Ward has announced the release of the C900 Mono-Pusher Chronograph. For those unaware of what a mono-pusher is, it’s a relatively simple concept that takes a lot of mechanics to achieve. Normally, two separate pushers, a start/stop pusher and a reset pusher, control chronographs, which are a common sight on watches (though mechanically no walk in the park to create either…far from it). Well, on a mono-pusher, as the name suggests, all of the functions are controlled through a single pusher. In the case of the C900, the pusher passes through the crown. Pragmatically speaking, a mono-pusher chronograph is less practical as a stopwatch, as one cannot stop and restart without resetting. But from the perspective of a watch nerd, mono-pushers are rare, interesting and often quite unique.
A heavily modified Unitas 6497, a hand-wound workhorse movement that we’ve seen before, powers the C900. The new caliber, dubbed the JJ02, was designed by Johannes Jahnke not only to achieve the chronograph function, but to present the components and functions of the movement in such a way as to be understandable when in use. This is a significant point, as the value of this movement is not only in the price, but in that it was designed to be appreciated and understood by the customer. As you can see in the photo, the oversized display case back allows for the parts to be presented clearly. To create this unique caliber, Johannes Jahnke sought the advice and expertise of another watchmaker, one who has been working on watches and chronographs since the 1940’s, Jean Fillon, who is the master engineer at EPOS.
The C900 itself is an elegantly designed bi-compax chronograph with early to mid 20th century looks. The dial is a clean white with black markings and an overall subdued feel, set in a steel case. They definitely went for sporty dress aesthetic, something that is refined yet masculine, and seem to have pulled it off. The case measures a sizable 43 x 15.7 mm, making this a fairly large watch, but that is expected given the movement inside. The watch, which is a limited edition of 250, will be available for pre-sale at the end of this month, shipping in mid October.
Now, as far the price goes, this watch is affordable… for a mono-pusher. At £2,450, or about $3,900 (update: official US pricing at $3,365), the C900 is far more expensive than anything C. Ward has offered before. And more expensive than what we typically feature on w&w. That being said, it’s about half the price of the next most affordable mono-pusher, the B&R WWI Mono-Pusher, which doesn’t have an in-house movement (though it runs off of a very high end Le Joux Perret). Heck, there are watches with ETA 2824-2’s that cost over 5k, just to put things in perspective. What you are getting in the C900 is something truly collectible and very affordable for what it is. For us personally, it might remain in the watch lust category, but if you are looking for watch to invest in, I dare say this might be a great choice. No matter how you look at it, it’s a very exciting development from the brand. We plan on getting some time with this and presenting you with a first hand look at this remarkable creation. So, look forward to that in the coming months.
Images courtesy of Christopher Ward
by Zach Weiss