This Christopher Ward C7 Chronograph is just such a watch, and though the price was a bit on the steep side, seeing and wearing is definitely believing; it’s an amazing piece of horological work, and any traces of buyer’s remorse I might have had were gone the instant I first glanced down at my wrist and saw it there.
I pre-ordered this watch back in late January 2014, and it had a projected delivery date of mid-April. It showed up on Saturday, April 12, which is just one more thing to like about Christopher Ward watches; they deliver the goods when they say they will, which is rather ironic, since CW watches come all the way from London, England. I can’t help but think of the many U.S. watch manufacturers that simply can’t deliver in a timely manner, the way the good folks at CW manage to do, time after time, order upon order.
This beautiful watch is officially titled as Christopher Ward C7 COSC Chronograph, and the color is listed as ‘Italian Racing Red.’ And its color truly is reminiscent of the old ‘Team Ferrari Red’ of the 1960s through 1990s. Everything about this piece harkens back to the glory days of Grand Prix racing, yet it is amazingly contemporary in design and features some pretty cool elements.
The C7 features the superbly accurate ETA 251.233 COSC-certified chronograph movement. Without getting too much into the weeds – this is, after all, just an introductory post, not a review – COSC stands for Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, responsible for certifying the accuracy and precision of wristwatches made in Switzerland. COSC certified watches go through 15 days of rigorous testing and measurement, and in the end must be within 0.02 to 0.07 seconds of the two atomic clocks against which they’re measured. (For a more detailed – but still easy to read/grasp – definition/discussion of COSC movements, see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COSC )
The COSC Institute only recently began to test quartz watches, and has not officially specified any hard-and-fast protocols for such testing. They are, however, in the process of laying out and adopting specific procedures for quartz watch evaluation (see: ISO 10553:2003, Ibid., for a little ‘light reading’). In the meantime, they continue to test and certify quartz watches, using pretty much the same normative criteria for each.
And now that the COSC dissertation is complete…let’s have a look at the watch itself.
Technical ‘Short List’
Caliber: ETA 251.233 COSC
Case: 316L stainless steel
Water Resistance: 10 ATM / 100 meters
Strap: 22mm Leather
Dial Color: Italian Racing Red
The looks really do speak for themselves, but this wouldn’t be an official Mort Article if I didn’t throw a few big words and run-on sentences into the mix on behalf of its amazing appearance. Starting with the dial, there is a beautiful mix of the “Italian Racing Red” with stainless steel applied ‘hour markers’ that start at 05 at the one o’clock position and move in five-minute increments up to 60 at 12 o’clock; this is done because there is a ‘sweeping’ minutes hand, located directly under the sweeping seconds hand, that records total minutes per hour. (It’s really a nice, seldom seen feature, and I have to confess that it’s really cool to hit the reset pusher and watch both hands reset themselves…I guess Mrs. Mort was right when she said that I’m easily amused. As I always tell her, “It’s a WIS thing; you wouldn’t understand.”)
”It’s a WIS thing; you wouldn’t understand.”
There are stainless frames around each subdial, as well as silver-toned hour, minute, and subdial hands, all in the Dauphine style. The signature, chapter ring and tachymeter markings are done in white, which adds a nice contrast to both the red and silver elements of the dial. The tachymeter bezel is one of the most narrow I’ve ever seen in a watch of this size (42mm), so the visual effect is one that gives the appearance of a 44-45mm case size. Nonetheless, it doesn’t tend to overpower the wrist or look bulky, so the visual effect is largely negligible.
The red of the dial is continued into the brown leather racing strap, showing up behind the perforated outer layer and creating a visual effect that adds to the bright red color that dominates this watch. Add some white contrast stitching, and you have the same color mix as that of the dial, thus tying everything together nicely.
The case is, as you’d expect in a brand new watch, flawlessly polished stainless steel. It’s a bit thinner than many of its competitor brands, coming in at 11.6mm, roughly .5-2.0mm thinner than similar sport watch offerings on the market. There is a shallow protector on either side of the signed crown, and both the crown and pushers (or, if you’re Conjurer, Fogbert or Horse Fathers, “tyme nobs”) feature a cross-hatch patterned gnurling that fits in perfectly with the motorsport theme of this beautiful watch.
The comfort level is all there with this CW offering. The leather strap is very comfortable right out of the box, and it’s a perfect mix between the firmness of a new strap and the broken-in feel of an old favorite.
The Bader single-deployant, dual push-button clasp holds everything together firmly, but not to the point where you’re feeling it on your wrist every second of every minute, and so on. The only down-check is that it’s a bit of a pain to adjust; once the pin is pushed through the chosen eyelet, it’s not at all easy to get it back out again. (Renato used a similar-in-design clasp for their first return-to-ShopNBC offering, and the pin routinely broke off as wearers tried to size the overly thick strap; they eventually offered a free buckle-and-tang replacement, but by then the damage had been done to their already-struggling reputation.) Additionally, if your wrist is larger than 7.75 inches, the OEM strap will be too small for you, which is unfortunate, as this really is a highly unique band.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, this is a watch of incredible beauty, as shown in the pictures (though, in truth, the pictures just don’t do it justice). But there is also an incredible beauty on the inside, as well, represented by the superb ETA 251.233 COSC-certified quartz movement. As I’ve said a few times in previous introductions and reviews, there is at least a little bit of mechanical (and, in some cases, electrical) engineer in each and every one of us who love watches, whether we’re simple admirers of the craft of watchmaking, a full-fledged collector or something in between. It’s easy to admire the beauty and intricacy of an automatic or mechanical movement, but it’s often a genuine challenge to look at a quartz movement and really admire what it does and how it does it. This particular quartz offering from Christopher Ward easily overcomes that challenge with this extremely well-built, beautiful looking and seriously accurate watch.
And with only 500 pieces made in this Italian Racing Red color, you’ll have to be as quick as the old Team Ferrari in order to get yourself one.
As always, your time and attention are truly appreciated, and they’re a very large part of what makes writing such a pleasure for me. Be safe and well, and I’ll see you down the road a bit.