First released in late 2022, the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto has already developed a cult following in enthusiast circles thanks to its manufacture-developed passing chime complication at a sub-$4000 price point. Bringing this haute horlogerie element to a far more accessible market segment has been a significant coup for the brand, and after its initial introduction the brand is understandably eager to expand the series. Developed in partnership with watch collector group Watches@, one of the first reinterpretations of the Bel Canto platform (and the very first Bel Canto collaboration design) adds a handful of bespoke touches to the design alongside a luxe new colorway. The new limited edition Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ brings an opulent new energy to the Bel Canto line, and acts as an effective demonstration of stylistic flexibility for the young series.
Measuring in at 41mm-wide, the titanium case of the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ is more or less identical to the standard production Bel Canto in images. Like previous iterations, this is a clean, traditional design overall, with sporty tapering lugs and a continuous polished case side chamfer to break up the predominantly brushed surfaces. The original Bel Canto’s distinctive 2 o’clock pillbox crown and 4 o’clock rectangular chime pusher also make a return here, giving the case an interestingly asymmetric look in images. Christopher Ward sets this model apart from previous Bel Canto offerings with its custom engraved caseback, which features the Watches@ group emblem at the center of a series of radiating sound waves. As with previous models in the series, this is a far cry from a sporting timepiece, and the miniscule 30 meter water resistance rating serves to reinforce that fact.
The dial of the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ is where this model’s new additions shine through brightest. Rather than the smooth sunburst texture of previous models, the C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ offers a heavily grained, almost hammered main dial surface in images, with a bright, luxurious yellow gold finish. Of course, this dial exists primarily as a backdrop for the exposed chiming complication, along with the skeleton bridge supporting the 12 o’clock timekeeping subdial. Like earlier iterations, this is an open, airy, and visually balanced layout, with the chiming gong curling from 2 o’clock to 10 o’clock to create a natural frame for elements like the sculptural hammer at 7 o’clock and the 4 o’clock chime activation indicator. This indicator also highlights the C1 Bel Canto x Watches@’s other major tweak to the Bel Canto formula: blued hands. Both the triangular indicator hand and the skeletonized baton handset on the main timekeeping subdial are rendered in a vibrant blue tone, contrasting dramatically with the gold base dial in images.
As with previous Bel Canto iterations, the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ uses the heavily modified, Sellita SW200-1-based FS01 automatic passing chime movement. Although most of the performance of the FS01 is on par with its Sellita donor movement, including a 38 hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate, that only tells a small portion of this powerplant’s story. The striking mechanism for the passing chime complication was fully developed by Christopher Ward technical director Frank Stelzer, and features over 60 bespoke components. While the finishing on the exposed dial-side movement elements is relatively straightforward in images, largely consisting of linear brushing and polishing, the brand is still able to extract a wealth of visual drama from these components with thoughtful use of layout and shaping. Christopher Ward completes the watch with a variety of strap options, including a three-link oyster-style bracelet in titanium, along with classic leather straps in black, muted tan, and deep navy blue.
Arriving less than four months after the initial release of the Bel Canto line, the limited edition Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ builds on the success of the original with an eye-catching new colorway while showcasing the line’s potential for visual adaptability. Only 200 examples of the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ will be made, but 110 of these models will be reserved for Watches@ group members, leaving only 90 units for friends and family of the group. The watch is available to pre-order now, with expected delivery in 2023. Starting MSRP for the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto x Watches@ stands at $3,595 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.