September 8, 2017
One of the great things about brands like Christopher Ward is the rarity factor. Independent watchmakers can change, adapt, and invent new designs faster than the big brands, whose production is locked into creating large quantities of best-selling collections. Limited editions are the stock in trade of independents, and Christopher Ward’s C50 Malvern Chronometer is a case in point: it is a limited edition, and also the end of a line. The 50-piece series marks the last time the Mk II Malvern design, one of the brand’s most well-known dress watch designs, will be used in a new timepiece.
The C50 Malvern is a great value package that includes the materials and hallmarks of a high-end watch, including a sapphire crystal caseback, a 316L stainless steel case, 50m water resistance and a 25-jewel chronometer movement. It contains the COSC-certified ETA 2836, with a 38-hour power reserve and a -4/+6 accuracy rating, which puts it within the top 6% of Swiss made watches. The rotor is finished with Christopher Ward’s distinctive twin flag pattern.
The curved steel bezel and curved top sapphire crystal are a familiar part of the Mk II Malvern aesthetic, and a big part of what gives the watch its classic look and feel. The 39mm width and 10.80mm height make it a well-proportioned, comfortable day watch. Although this is a restrained, classic dress watch, the domed dial has a cool blue sunray finish that gives it a kind of sporty feel as well. The useful and highly legible day/date window is nicely balanced with the Christopher Ward logo, and breaks up the stark minimalism of the dial. The day/date window is also nicely framed, and combined with the seconds hand, gives you everything you need in a classic day watch. Baton markers at five-minute intervals and applied polished indexes are also nice details that place the watch at a level above those with dials that have printed indexes or numerals.
The strap is also a signature Christopher Ward feature. It is cordovan leather, a kind of soft leather that hugs the wrist, with a Bader deployant buckle. The Bader is a patented buckle invented by Christopher Ward technical director Jörg Bader that uses an elongated mushroom-shaped pin as the anchor for the top locking clasp. Pushers at the side of the top clasp release the pin to open the strap. Compared to the ubiquitous butterfly clasp, the Bader buckle is simpler. The butterfly buckle is formed of three parts linked by hinges, while the Bader has only two hinged parts, so closing it is simpler. The mushroom-shaped pin, which serves to size the strap correctly for the wearer, is also used as the anchor on which the clasp locks. This means the pointed end of the leather strap rests on the inside of the deployant clasp, eliminating the need for additional leather loops to hold the end in position. The result is a simpler clasp that holds the strap closer to the wrist.
Christopher Ward watches are designed in the UK and manufactured in Biel, Switzerland. The C50 Malvern Chronometer is priced at $970, and can be ordered from their official site. christopherward.com