Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Christopher Ward watches move to luxury

Sometimes a company does something brave. Apple made the move into music devices and was a spectacular success. Now watch maker Christopher Ward of London, of whom I've written before, is moving into the £2450 bracket with the C900 single pusher chronograph (pictured). It's a lovely looking watch, I'd have to grant, but what interests me is that the organisation behind it has sold so much on value before.

It was never a question of being a manufacturer of cheapies, you understand. If you need a new watch and want one for under £100 there are plenty around, and Christopher Ward doesn't make them. Their watches, they told me, used quality components and movements and because there were no middle people they'd sell for around a third, maybe a smaller fraction, of the price charged by the competition.

And now we're into £2450. The reasons are as follows - a spokeswoman explained to LifeOver35 that the single 'pusher' to set the stopwatch etc. is costly and that the watches are hand assembled from start to finish in Switzerland. Johannes Jahnke in CW's Swiss atelier (French for 'workshop' and don't let anyone tell you it's anything posher) builds the watch around the Unitas 6497 calibre.

The single pusher is unusual and makes the watch look a great deal less ungainly than most chronographs on the market. The spokeswoman confirmed that this is the most expensive watch the company makes, and indeed a glance at the website confirms this; however, to get this much accuracy and indeed visibility (the window on the back, pictured left, gives you a really full view of a movement designed to show off the moving parts. Click on it for a larger view, it's gorgeous.

I have no reason to doubt Christopher Ward as a company. I've met them, they're nice guys, and no they haven't bribed me by sending me one of these (I do own a C5 automatic from a press launch a few years back). If they say the price reflects the cost and therefore the quality of the new watch I'm sure that's true.

I just think that if I had £2450 to spend on a watch there's a good chance I'd go for something from Omega, Tissot or one of the bigger names instead.

Christopher Ward of London is taking orders from August for mid-October delivery.

1 comment:

  1. Niamh Kinsella @minteressant8 August 2012 at 07:21

    Tag Heuer made the exact same move when they rebranded years ago. Their watches went from the 350-500 to the 2000-3000 bracket and their unit sales went through the roof. Middle markets are more likely to suffer in a recession - luxury and budget items boom as people either scrimp or splurge on the perception of long term quality. Interesting stuff!


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