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Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Debuted on aBlogtoWatch not too long ago, I now get to review the first "re-branded" Christopher Ward watch that I really like. Based on the dashboard instrument clock of some historic British military planes (follow the link above for more information about that), the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer combines a cool modern design with an impressive movement and, as is typical of the UK-based brand, a lot of value for the money. UPDATE: Since our review of this watch Christopher Ward has decided to replace the initial strap with a different one. Pictures and details of that new strap are included below, but be aware that a less rough-style strap now comes with the watch.

While I know that the watch is vintage instrument clock-inspired, it does indeed offer what I feel is a modern look. The mostly matte-black surfaces, finishing of the movement, and overall design feels quite contemporary even though it is inspired by a "Mark II A Smith" clock. Over the years, a lot of successful timepieces have been inspired by plane dashboard instruments - and for good reason. Such instrumentation has always been designed to be very legible and functional even in the dark. Moreover, they conjure up ideas of adventure, professional expertise, and of course, an active lifestyle.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let's focus on the movement for a moment. Inside the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer is a version of the brand's "in-house" SH21 mechanical movement that was debuted back in 2014. The movement was designed by Johannes Jahnke who works for Christopher Ward in Switzerland. The brand claims that the movement is "100% Swiss Made," and it offers a lot technically for the money. The original SH21 was an automatic, but as you can see, it has been modified here to be a manual movement with a power reserve indicator. Christopher Ward changed the bridge architecture of the movement as well as some of the decoration to make it match the matte black theme of the overall watch - and to make it appear a bit more aviation-inspired. Looking at the two mainspring barrels, you can see a "wind turbine" motif.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Losing the automatic rotor also means the movement is thinner - which helps the watch wear very nicely. The 44mm-wide case is 11mm thick - and it wears very nicely. You can see the movement through the exhibition caseback - and the visual effect is really appealing with the contrast of polished silver-toned surfaces and matte black. As the name of the watch implies, the caliber SH21 movement inside of this C8 model is COSC Chronometer certified.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One of my original complaints about the SH21 movement was that it was quite thick. It is a larger caliber, but in sport watches that makes a lot more sense. As I mentioned, without the automatic winding mechanism it slims down significantly. The movement operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a long power reserve of 5 days. You'll need to turn the crown a healthy number of times to fully wind the movement. Even though I am generally not that interested in manually wound watches, I make an exception for those with power reserve indicators on the dial - which the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer clearly has.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Not everyone seems to like the dial design of the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer, but I'm not opposed to it. It has been called "busy," which to me is ironic since I see it as being rather minimal given the information it displays. This is the first watch I've handled that has the controversial new Christopher Ward logo in a more aesthetically pleasing symmetrical design, so I am happy about that. The face offers the time with subsidiary seconds dial, power reserve indicator, and date. The latter is done in a sort of a cool way that is half exposed - but not really. The date disc numerals are cut out, so you really only see the current date when it is over the tan-colored area.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The dial also has some welcome depth - which you don't see on pilot-style dials a lot. The "vintage-style" colors are not bad, and are made of Super-LumiNova in most instances. Red accents are a welcome sporty touch. Depth is created by the recessed subsidiary dials, applied 12 o'clock hour indicator and a few other markers, the date window, and the hands. This is also one of the few times where I am not bothered by skeletonized hands (which I tend to think are an over-used design element which harm legibility more than they offer aesthetic value).

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At worst, the dial of the C8 Power Reserve Chronometer is an acquired taste, but it doesn't violate any major design rules. I happened to find it a nice element not only for being distinctive, but also for playing around with some new elements you don't often see in pilot watches. This is part of a larger mission by the brand to make more distinctive designs which are clearly recognizable as Christopher Ward watches.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At 44mm wide, the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer sports a healthy size, and I like the matte-black case finishing which is applied using a DLC-coating. The overall case architecture isn't bad either, and even the side profile feels proportionate and attractive. Over the dial is a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the case is water resistant to 50 meters. Weight of the watch is 81 grams.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

There are so many competitive mechanical pilot watches out there that it would be difficult to measure up the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer in relation to a reasonably sized sample of them. When it comes down to it, people are mostly going to choose style. If you want a truly classic or iconic pilot watch design, you'll probably opt for something else that appears more familiar. If those designs bore you, or if you have enough of those already in your collection and really like pilot watches, then this a good choice. Where Christopher Ward really shines is in distinctive design as well as a lot of value for the money. The SH21 is still a bargain, and in this configuration there is little else out there with the same features, COSC Chronometer certification, and long power reserve. It also frames the current Christopher Ward branding in a way that I think company loyalists will appreciate.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Christopher Ward offers the C8 Power Reserve Chronometer on three different "whip stitch vintage Tibor leather straps" that come in black, brown, camel (as tested). I like that they offer a quick-release pin and they are reasonably stylish. The stock strap is quite long, so people with smaller wrists like me will need the shorter strap option. The straps by design feel a bit "rough" and will not appeal to everyone. Personally, I would swap out the stock strap for something a bit more high-end-feeling. The straps that come with it will no doubt be considered fashionable by many people, but given the quick release bars it's obvious Christopher Ward wants its customers to play around a bit with the look of the watch. UPDATE: As mentioned above, Christopher Ward decided to use a different strap on the C8 Power Reserve after we did our review. I have images of the watch on the update strap, which is newer and cleaner feeling that the rougher ones you see in many of the images in this review.

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Original and updated straps side-by-side

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

All three of the versions (references C8-44-PR-KVK-T-B, C8-44-PR-KVK-K-B, and C8-44-PR-KVK-C-B) will start shipping in January 2017 and have the very reasonable price of $2,060. christopherward.com

Necessary Data
>Brand: Christopher Ward
>Model: C8 Power Reserve Chronometer
>Price: US$2,060
>Size:44mm wide, 11mm thick
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: Someone looking for a distinctive-looking pilot watch that has some standout technical features and a fair price.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Design will not universally appeal to everyone, but some people will love it. Darkness visibility could be a bit better. Stock straps are a bit too rough for some tastes.
>Best characteristic of watch: Impressive execution of SH21 movement and lots of value for the money. Striking and distinctive look which adds to overall Christopher Ward brand character.

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

Follow me on Google+ Ariel Adams
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  • A_watches

    Really cool good looking watch. Only gripe is the “Christopher ward” text.

    • Richard

      I’m ambivalent about the watch but I agree with you about the font.

      Mind you, anything is better than “Chr. Ward” they had previously…

      • A_watches

        yes, maybe overlapping CW. simple CW would look too close to DW!

        • David Williams

          Quite so, but the designers at “Daniel Wellington” at least understood that making a logo from just the initials was wiser than plastering the full name across the dial

          • Shinytoys

            drum workshop seems to have nailed their logo…

          • David Williams

            Yes, there must be a pun there about beating time!

          • Shinytoys

            wah wah wah 🙂

          • Roman

            Tell it to Vacheron Constantin. ))

          • David Williams

            Ha, yes – long-established legends are allowed their full names – VC, JLC, AP, UN, GP and others!

        • Bill W

          Only if they used a backward C.

    • David Williams

      Yes, some personal names – real and invented – have acquired status as well-known brands (Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton etc) but the utilitarian typeface and less exotic name here suggest that this would be a great watch for anyone named Christopher Ward. The name somehow needs to get out of the way – maybe reduced to a suitably stylish logo – just “Ward” could work. Here endeth the lesson in branding!

  • word-merchant

    Along with their recent world timer, I rather like this one. Even the 3-number date window has been executed with a degree of coolness that is a pleasant surprise. This is the sort of approach Bremont should try adopting.

    If I ever need a beater, this’ll be high in the list.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Their is very little i like about this watch.

    • Marius

      “Their is very little” — you mean THERE IS or THERE`S very little.

      This Fall, in cinemas across Europe, Raymond Wilkie starring in “SORRY, NO HABLO INGLES.” A dramatic, yet touching story about a Scotsman who only speaks Spanish. This is what the critics had to say:

      “Eloquent!” — The Daily Telegraph
      “This guy really doesn`t speak English!” — The Sun
      “I didn`t understand one word he was saying, but I enjoyed the movie” — NSBC

      • laup nomis

        Marius have you never come across the dreaded auto-carrot. I write everything on a tablet, to honest its a success if its vaguely recognisable as language and not just incomprehensible drivel.
        Sorry. I’ve read this wrong haven’t I. You just like being rude to each other, I’ll get my coat and get back in my hole.

      • Omegaboy

        Too funny! Or should I say, “Two funny!”?

      • Dinkee, H. O.

        Well, you missed what the majority of critics will say: “That movie was super boring!”

        • Raymond Wilkie

          You are like an itch i can’t quite reach to scratch.

      • Bill W

        Apologies to Ray but that really made me laugh.

  • That’s how you do overlapping subdials.

  • HectorAsuipe

    I would have liked to see the winding action from the underside.
    Does the date glow? Seems it should, which would be very cool.
    Not a bad design overall and something I could envision wearing. I’d prefer there be a triangle or something other than the lone “12” at the top of the dial. The layout, symmetry, and hands work for me.
    Price is a bit steep, but if it follows Chr. Ward’s usual sale policy, maybe we’ll see it for about $1200 in a year.

  • There are a number of thing which I like on paper and overall I want to like this watch, but I just don’t. The number of “misses” exceed the number of “hits” for me.

    I don’t like the power reserve indicator sub-dial eating into the seconds subdial. I don’t see a need for the dreaded 3 date display. How come the hands are not lumed for their entire length? I don’t like that the markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9 are applied (raised) while the remainder of the markers are recessed – just looks mismatched to me.

    I appreciate that they tried to do something different with the movement’s visuals from the back, but the flat black just looks plain and cheap. A nice grained/brushed finish would be my preference.

    The 5 days power reserve is great but as Ariel noted, it must take a lot of winding to power this bad boy up. Good to see quick release pins on the strap, but the strap is still cheap looking to me – burnished edges might have helped.

  • laup nomis

    I like C Ward, and I can see this is a reasonably well thought-out watch.
    But I have yet to see a black cased watch I like, on top of which I like this matt-finish black with brown and red paint/print even less.
    I’m open minded, I’d wear a black watch if I liked it. Its like having different dial colours in a collection, it all adds variety.

  • SwissMatic

    Create a new logo. Now.

    • Richard

      Yeah it looks rather dull.

      • word-merchant

        Here’s my suggestion: Christopher Ward

        • I think in their next iteration, they should abbreviate it as if it was a binary compound: ChWa. Maybe get a little fancy with 3ChWa2

        • Shinytoys

          How about a C and a W in an artistic logo. The way it is now, it cheapens the look of an otherwise nice looking watch.

        • Bill W

          I’m sticking with ‘Topher. Just ‘Topher.

          • word-merchant

            Or if they wanted some sort of connection for a gangster film tie-in:

            Chris, Top Her! War! ‘D’.

          • Bill W

            I actually quite like War! for a brand name. Imagine seeing War! on a dial…like an old-timey newspaper headline. Aggressive but I like it.

          • DanW94

            Or you could try to appeal to the religious sector, Christ Ward..
            The young hip crowd? – C-Top Double U….

    • Shinytoys

      for me that’s it exactly…otherwise the watch is very nice…

    • Bruce

      Nah I like this logo better. The last one was tacky as hell.

  • For a PVD quasi-pilot’s watch at the $2000 price point, there can be only one: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6d370ee36b321be191171f932a4296d48770188644ecb8cb0bfeb1b964646d4b.jpg

    • I like Sinn but I don’t think the movement is on the same level with the ChriWar (new logo idea)

  • Boi1der

    I am huge fan of the brand and own two CW’s, so I may be bias. Well executed dial layout, trick date display, in-house movement and great warranty for $2k! What more can you ask for? HOWEVER, the re-brand kills it for me.

  • Roman

    I’m not into

  • Roman

    If I was into pilot watches I would like this piece.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’ve never tried a CW but have often felt that I should. At this price, looking at the watch on paper it seems like a winner, but I have some issues. The sub seconds kills tis dial. I don’t mind a busy dial, but any ‘proper’ pilot watch would have centre seconds, and I just prefer that in general. Also, on inspection the DLC looks to have been done by an intern. Look at the details engraved in the caseback: the DLC treatment didn’t reach all of them, but a really cheap looking appearance. Also, the strap is awful. That wouldn’t kill a buying decision, as I would make my own for it regardless, but for those that wouldn’t, what an insult this is. They couldn’t do a proper strap, and will make people wear the split on their skin? That strap will rot away 10x faster than the cheapest Chinese lined ebay strap, regardless of the quality of leather. And, they should do a few seconds of research, as there is no whip stitching pattern here.

    All in, I really want to like this watch, but I don’t. I’d be happy to go out any buy it today if only a few little oversights would have been considered.

  • Omegaboy

    If I had the $$, I would make this my third CW. Not a lover of black cases, but this watch is cool. And I really like the new logo.

  • hatster

    I have to admit that I like this for a number of the reasons cited by other readers as why they don’t like it…..

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    They need to triple the price and then I might be interested.

    • word-merchant

      $206,020,602,060 is a lot to pay for a watch.

    • Michel

      If you want I can buy one and resell to you at any triple, quadruple price… 😉

  • TresGut

    I prefer the back of this watch to the front. They should have offered it with a reversible strap.

  • Jerry Davis

    I like the strap better than the watch.

  • Terence Kuch

    I like the skeletonized minute hand. With my current main-squeeze watch, I sometimes say “Sorry, I don’t know what date it is right now. Ask me again when it’s 3:17.”

  • Bert Kanne

    A pilot watch is to me a type of watch that is worn on a regular basis. Constantly watching the power indicator and having to manually wind it every few days would make me wish it was a self winding or even a quartz movement. The strap looks unfinished and a bit crude for a 2k watch.

  • OK, I figured out what the brand should be called…”Griswold”

  • Ryan B.

    Red on a matte finish with a minimalist look. Perfect.

  • It’s rather interesting, but some style choices bother me. The strap is horrible. Seriously, the worst I can recall seeing on any production watch. I actually believe that (with no experience or leather-working tools) I might make a better one. I would prefer all sandwich style indices or all raised. The combination seems like one too many ideas were implemented. The movement is interesting enough that I’d like to see it, but the stark, featureless matte black plates with white overprinting look cheap and uninspired. The execution generally seems rushed. It needed another pass through design review and a few more days in the process to me.

    Ignoring the intrinsic value of the movement, this looks like a super cheap fashion watch with little quality and a throwaway strap. The god-awful strap drags this downmarket by $1500 (or more) of it’s price.

  • Bruce

    I think this is great looking watch. The new logo actually works with it. The colorway is great, but the strap choice is awful– should have been a bit darker in color. The movement display on the back is the icing on the cake for me.

    Price wise, it’s a little higher than I expected although I understand with the PVD and the movement they used. At the price though, there are just a ton of different options out there.

  • Neil C

    I like it.

  • Andrew

    Like the watch but I do not understand why you’d put a design based on something as precision as an aviation dial and then pair it with a strap that looks like it’s been put together by a shipwreck survivor.

  • TriggerMG

    Ward I think you are being a little hard on the Beaver.

  • Julian Rowland

    Massive CW fan. I have 3 Tridents and a C8 Mk 1. The new logo is better on this new C8 than the left justified versions. To be honest those that don’t own one should. The Tridents make a mockery of pieces twice the price and wipe the floor with those at the same price point. I changed the strap on my C8 for a CW leather one and its a vast improvement. Chris is doing a good job of putting high quality automatics within the grasp of many.

  • Adam McBride

    Great balance between the dial and the hands, here. They really speak the same language. I also like that the hands are legible without getting too much in the way of the subdials. Beauty.

  • Ulysses31

    I saw the watch and thought “meh, not awful”. Then I saw the back and all I could think was “whyyyyy?!” Overall it looks too much like a stealth quartz watch for me to want to drop two grand on it.