I was sitting with Mike France, who runs and co-founded Christopher Ward watches, in London when he casually pulled out two new watches he says are going to be a big deal for the brand after they are released: the new steel and titanium versions of a collection Christopher Ward calls “The Twelve.” Today, I review the titanium version of The Twelve, which is actually a different watch with different movements from the steel variant. It’s qualitatively a very nice watch and, as is the case with many Christopher Ward timepieces, a big part of the selling point is value.
For a number of years now, the watch collector population has gone a bit crazy for what many people refer to as “integrated bracelet” watches. At first, only a few specific watch models originally designed by Gerald Genta received attention. Soon after, the watch community began rediscovering other interesting watches with integrated bracelets, many of which originally debuted in the 1970s and 1980s. Many brands looked in their own archives for integrated bracelet watches they produced in the past, and today, the timepiece market is increasingly populated with a variety of products that have designs where it isn’t clear where the watch case ends and the bracelet begins. People like these watches because they offer the appeal of a wristwatch and also a jewelry bracelet, while still feeling masculine. Their often sporty demeanor fits with the more casual fashion choices many people choose today. More so, the best integrated bracelet watches are highly versatile and can be worn in a variety of circumstances. While I do think that the market for integrated bracelet watches will slow down at some point, they have unveiled an important lesson about today’s consumer preferences, and I think most timepiece enthusiasts will end up having at least a few such watches in their collections.
As a relatively new brand, Christopher Ward doesn’t have too much history to pull from, but that isn’t what it specializes in. Instead, Christopher Ward specializes in determining current market trends and offering its own take on it, often with a great price and snazzy performance. That is exactly what The Twelve is, and I think it will be a great wearing experience for many wearers. What is a bit odd to me, however, is that Christopher Ward decided to debut two different The Twelve watches at the same time, with similar price points. This isn’t a huge deal, but I can see consumers being a bit confused about which version to go with. If you can afford the extra several hundred dollars, The Twelve (Ti) Chronometer, as reviewed today, is the piece to get.
First let me offer a quick list of the things that this watch is good at, since Christopher Ward likely had a checklist of things it wanted The Twelve to do well. The case is 40mm-wide and the brand wanted to make it rather thin. The titanium version is 8.95mm-thick (while the steel version is about 1mm thicker), which, to me, is entirely thin enough. The Twelve Titanium is also accurate, given that it has a COSC Chronometer-certified Swiss Made Sellita SW300-1 automatic movement (4Hz, 56 hours of power reserve) in “Elabore grade” that you can view through the rear of the case. (The steel version has an SW200-1 automatic movement, which is thicker and offers less performance.) In addition to having an integrated bracelet design, the bracelet can also be removed with quick-release spring bars and can be swapped out with an available rubber strap. It has an artistic, colorful, textured dial which is also quite trendy. Finally, The Twelve is sporty with its 100 meters of water resistance and very legible with its prominent lumed hour markers and hands.
Weighing just 41 grams in titanium, The Twelve Titanium sits very comfortably on the wrist. The titanium case is very well machined and, from a distance, looks like steel (not a bad thing). Just a few years ago, you’d never see this level of contrast finishing on a titanium watch case and bracelet for this price. The Twelve opts for a round case that has a number of geometric elements, including the outer bezel (which has 12 sides, as the product name suggests). That gives the watch a familiar profile but also doesn’t look like any competitor product. That said, I think a fair watch to compare The Twelve with is Tissot’s PRX Automatic, which is going to be a natural competitor in the space (even though Tissot does not have a titanium version of the PRX at this time). The Christopher Ward watch costs a bit more than the Tissot, but I think it has some extra features that enthusiasts will appreciate.
Under the flat, AR-coated sapphire crystal, The Twelve’s dial design is impressive. The steel versions have similar dials but without the gradient color effect which here goes from blue to black (aka “Astral Blue”). The other currently available The Twelve Ti has a similar dial but in purple (which is cool, and is known as “Nebula Purple”). The dial is textured with small crosses, in what is certainly an ode to the current “double flag” (UK and Swiss) brand logo. The large applied hour markers and hands are handsome but not terribly distinctive and offer excellent legibility in light or darkness. Overall, the dial presentation in Christopher Ward’s The Twelve does not disappoint. The hard part will probably be choosing what color you like, since people often find it hard to choose between a more classic color and one that is more trendy and bright but potentially less versatile.
The single-link titanium bracelet is comfortable and, thankfully, uses screws as opposed to pin bars (which don’t feel as high-end as screws) for sizing purposes. There is no micro-adjust, but the bracelet does employ half-link sizes that allow for a more precise fit. For actual sporting activities, it might be best to use the available rubber strap on The Twelve. The bracelet closes with a butterfly-style deployant, which I appreciate for not creating any extra visual bulk under the wrist.
Christopher Ward is throwing its hat into a popular arena with The Twelve watches, but the brand does have something special side, especially with the titanium version of the watch, which still costs under $2,000. With its lightweight, thin profile, excellent movement and construction, and fair pricing, I can’t see Christopher Ward having too much trouble marketing these watches. Enthusiasts will opt for the Titanium Chronometer models, while mainstream folks might be OK with the steel models, which are $600 USD less. I look forward to seeing what the community says about The Twelve Ti Chronometer and where Christopher Ward will take this collection in the future. Price for this Christopher Ward The Twelve Ti Chronometer on the bracelet is $1,825 USD ($1,375 on the rubber strap). Learn more at the Christopher Ward watches website.
>Brand: Christopher Ward
>Model: The Twelve Ti Chronometer
>Price: $1,825 USD as tested
>Size: 40mm-wide, 8.95mm-thick, 44.5mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As an attractive daily wear with watch enthusiast gusto and a great value proposition.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Value-minded watch collector seeking something trendy and with character.
>Best characteristic of watch: Well-made, attractive, quality components, good value proposition.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Potentially confusing differences between steel and titanium models. Would be better if the rubber strap were included in the kit.