Christopher Ward have produced some very sharp designs over the last few years. Although critics moan about Swiss movements being used, rather than UK built movements, you have to admire the combo of UK design with Swiss level build touches. These are not unreasonably priced watches, considering they’re assembled in Britain where labour costs are high.
Here’s the word from Christopher Ward;
Crafted in Grade 2 titanium, the C63 watch head weighs a featherlight 45g, and is also the first CW timepiece with a retractable crown – something that stops it digging into your hand when cycling or rock climbing, and which prevents unexpected knocks to the movement, too.
WE LOVE THE CROWN – NOT THE TV SHOW, OBVIOUSLY
Yes, the crown is the erm..crowning glory on this model, as it has that Thunderbirds vibe when it’s hidden away beneathe the case edge. Add water-resistance to 150m, and you’ve got a pro timing instrument that’s elite in every way.
Those little cut-outs on the edge of the dial are a nice extra feature too, kinda like air vents. That trident second hand catches the eye.
Inside it has a Sellita movement, with a decorated rotor. You can view it occasionally through the caseback glass too, nice work all round. At 40mm this is the ideal sized all-rounder watch, bit sporty, but not in-your-face like a Breitling Navi or an IWC Pilot.
It’s on pre-order right now, at £1150, which is a special price – rises to £1380 later in the year. More here.
If you are looking forward to getting along to Goodwood Festival of Speed, or the Revival in September, once the lockdown house arrest ends, then a Marchand watch could be just the thing. Styled here in the UK, these Seiko VK64 quartz watches have motorsport oozing from every pusher and the retro Driver Chronograph model is on pre-order offer right now, at £199. Price then rises to £259 after the first 100 pieces are sold.
By the way the Marchand pictured in the header image is on Amazon right now for £179 – just saying.
The Retro Driver Chronograph MKII wrist watch is inspired by retro motor racing, a mix of technical and elegance… steel and leather making it a stunning vintage drivers watch for your weekend drives.
The Driver chrono mens watch delivers sensations of tradition and modernity, its blue dial refers to the classic GT cars of the 70s and 80s with the added ivory and orange features of the dial to really reflect retro race styling. Elegant on the wrist the Driver chronograph embraces its owner with a perforated padded, leather rally strap to remind of the leather upholstery and gloves of the drivers. Who doesn’t love motoring watches?
The Driver Chrono MKIIs feature a brushed 43mm all stainless steel with a brushed and polished bezel, it runs on a highly popular and modern Japanese Seiko caliber VK64 chronograph hybrid meca-quartz movement with highly scratch resistant sapphire crystal to protect the dial. These chronos have the subdial dials lowered disc cut effect and features luminous hands and hours indicators. The caseback features an etched retro racing driver’s helmet from the 70’s and lastly all models tailor a genuine leather strap with quick release pins, brushed buckle and etched logo.
Christopher Ward has launched the C60 Sapphire Black. Like the original C60 Sapphire, the dial is made from ultra-thin, scratch-resistant sapphire. However, here, the sapphire has been ‘smoked’ – something that’s achieved through a complex process called physical vapour deposition (PVD). This involves placing the sapphire in a vacuum chamber filled with a vapour of silver and carbon graphite – heated to 400°C – for three hours. It’s then put in another chamber, this time filled with silicon oxide vapour, which adds protection.
The result is a subtly tinted transparent dial, says CW, that allows you to see deep into the Sellita SW200-1 movement. And with a compressive strength of 2,000 megapascals, it’s not just beautiful but incredibly tough, too. The dial is only part of the story. Turn the watch over and you can see the movement from behind thanks to the sapphire caseback, while the Light-catcher™ case is not only graceful but thin enough to slip under a shirt cuff. And at 40mm in diameter, pretty much suits every wrist.
Engineered to the requirements of a professional diving instrument, the watch is water-resistant to 600m, while the unidirectional bezel allows you to time your ascents – a vital safety tool for divers. Finally, power comes from the highly regarded Sellita SW200-1 movement, which delivers accuracy under the most testing of conditions. It’s on pre-order right now priced at £795.
There’s a blue version too, which is the same price.
Verdict: Great value automatics at this price are rare, you’re getting Swiss movement quality for about £500 less than entry level prestige brands that also use Sellita engines. Hard to fault CW as a value choice and this model has that Meccano fascination with the movement gears and jewels on show.
Farer have a new addition to their range, the Field Exmoor automatic. Featuring a Sellita SW221 movement inside the steel case, this 38mm watch is designed for outdoor adventures and has that classic mil-spec dial. It also has an orange date hand rather than the conventional date window. For £875 this is an expensive alternative to something like a Seiko 5 with a green dial, but you are buying British and getting a watch with stunning night time lume as well.
Tan American Horween leather strap with steel buckle, airforce blue waterproof nylon NATO strap, ‘5 row’ integrated 316 marine grade steel bracelet with tri-fold clasp (fit to size via link removal) – all with quick release pin fitting
The Garrick S4 is the latest creation from the British firm. It encompasses much hand-craftsmanship, manifest with its elaborate dial and yet, despite its impressive in-house content and high-quotient of hand-craftsmanship, it remains surprisingly affordable. In recent years, Garrick has shown its in-house watchmaking expertise again and again, releasing several refined timepieces. Some of these models are equipped with the firm’s exclusive movements, feature skeleton or guilloché dials and all are enriched with high-end finishing.
Whereas the mass-produced approach is to stamp a dial blank from a ribbon of brass, Garrick uses a lathe to create a brass disc. Two feet are riveted to the underside of the dial blank which ultimately unite the dial with the movement. The dial blank is ‘flattened’ using fine abrasive paper in order to remove any burrs or imperfections, creating a smooth surface. Thereafter, the dial is bead blasted. A chapter ring, effectively a circlet of metal, is paired with a smaller ring for the small seconds. These are then drilled, creating holes to facilitate fixing.
The chapter ring is clamped between two plates and baked at 300°C. This hardens the metal and removes any springiness. After the chapter ring has cooled, it is ‘spun’ on a lathe, creating a motif termed ‘satiné circulaire’. Furthermore, the hour track and minute track are delineated from one another with an engraved pattern called ‘sauté piqué. Laser engraving is used to impart Roman numerals to the chapter ring. The resultant recesses are then inked by hand using a special syringe pen. Once the ink has dried, the chapter ring is cleaned and spun again to remove any excess ink.
Upholding fine watchmaking practise, the Maritime hour and minute hands are heat-blued and the collet sat atop these hands is hand-polished to a brilliant conclusion. The central area of the dial is frosted, while the small seconds display is suffused with an intricate hand-guilloché motif, executed on a traditional rose-engine lathe. Alternatively, the central dial area can be specified with a contrasting guilloché pattern.
The Garrick S4 features an ETA movement and rtails at £4995. Handcrafted skills and Made In Norfolk quality doesn’t come cheap.
It’s been a tough year of course, one to forget some might say, but there have been some fantastic examples of watchmaking launched on the market. To give you some Christmas cheer, here’s a round up of the best wristwatches of 2020. We divided them into categories including Under £500, Dive, Automatic, Dress, Technical Achievement, Retro, British Built and Best Investment. Add your own top picks below.
Hamtum Kraken H3
How can you beat a Sellita powered automatic, titanium case, steel bracelet, plus a GMT hand, for just £350 on the Kickstarter early bird offer price. No wonder the H2 was a sell-out, Hamtum are a classic example of how indie watchmaking can take on entry level Swiss branded watches and offer a true alternative that any collector would be proud to own.
Enosken Deep Dive
Hard to choose from the hundreds of dive watches launched in 2020. Some, like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape offer decades of Swiss heritage behind them, others have bronze cases, in fact the bronze cased dive watch has been perhaps the biggest trend in 2020. But our top pick is the German made, Belfast designed Enosken Deep Dive for the simple reason that it is pure function; a watch designed to survive depths of up to 1000 metres. The best part is that it costs just £390, and that price makes so many Swiss prestige dive watches look like a bit of a scam to be blunt, unless you want to buy a dive watch for posing, not diving.
Tudor Black Bay 58, Navy Blue
You want a Rolex Sub? Naturally. But let’s say you don’t have £8000 plus to spend nor two years of your life to wait in limbo. The Black Bay 58 offers an in-house movement that delivers a 70 hour reserve, wearable 39mm case size, a smooth bezel action, beautiful understated detailing and all for just over £2500. The 58 Blue is a watch that you don’t have to apologise for, like some Tudor models of old that featured the humble ETA 2824 Cal movement. It stands out as part of a new generation for Tudor and we predict some stunning models in 2021.
Omega Constellation 41mm
The Constellation is always a great dress watch choice of course, but for 2020 Omega really added some extra pizazz, with a Manhattan art-deco kind of edge to the style. The Constellation `claws’ on the bezel are blended in, and look all the better for it. The two-tone colour choices also make the Omega stand out on the wrist. The test of any dress watch is this; does it add a finishing touch to a tailored suit at the races? Yep, Omega does that with the 41mm Constellation, big enough to impress, but not crazy-ass big like a 45mm footballer’s showboat watch.
Richard Mille RM 72-01 Chronograph
Not just an in-house movement, but the RM 72 Flyback chrono separates the chrono functions from the rest of the watch gear train. Then there’s the little gear indicator on the right side of the skeleton dial and the six column wheel. It’s a tech tour-de-force and for those of you who have cash to lavish the RM Chrono is a watch that fascinates. Yes, this watch costs house purchase level sums of money to buy, but it’s all about the movement and we say that still matters.
Longines Marine Nationale
A truly stunning re-creation of a historic Longines, the 2020 Marine Nationale gets all the details correct and offers modern technology inside the case. You have to love those French blue hands too. That military themed plain dial and bold, functional numbers capture the essence of service watchmaking of the past, where the design was all about getting the job done, not impressing shoppers or collectors. But this is a collectable watch and a 2020 model will eventually outpace most other retro Swiss watches in terms of resale value in the long run. It just looks right.
OK, the pandemic has thrown everything off track this year, but Bremont are still cracking on with their new factory in Oxfordshire and this is arguably the greatest achievement in UK watchmaking since Accurist closed its factory back in the 70s. It was scheduled to open in September this year, but the Covid-19 panic and the economic disruption caused has led to a delay. Yet this factory is a turning point. Most UK brands are small scale, and outsource much of the production, not just of movements but of crystals, bezels, cases and more. A few make steel cases here in the UK, a few like an Ordain make their own dials. But Bremont are trying to make mass-production a reality in the UK, and for that they deserve a tip of the hat.
How can it be anything else, with long waiting lists for the latest 2020 models and the comforting knowledge that the new Subs are actually great pieces of engineering. Beautifully finished, bright superlume, ever improving bracelet tech, interesting dial colours for a change and increased reserve power. The Sub is already changing hands for as much as 5K above list price, so yep, this is the mother of all watch inverstments and likely to remain so for a few years yet.
an Ordain are one of our fave brands here at The Nortern Watch Co magazine. Why? Well it isn’t often that you find any brand capable of producing hand-enamelled dials, it’s a very rare skill. Even more so to find that being applied in the UK, where employment laws, factory rents and overheads make life very expensive for anyone who wishes to manufacture stuff.
So here’s good news from an Ordain on their fume dial range;
The Model 1 is now available with our signature Fumé dial. Developed by our team over several years, this painstaking enamelling technique has now been further refined to exaggerate the smoked effect and add more depth to the outer perimeter. Available in a range of colours, each Fumé dial boasts a lustrous coloured centre and impressive smoked edge. While the Blue and Green Fumé provide the new Model 1 with a familiar and dazzling vibrance, they are accompanied by the addition of two new colours – Payne’s Grey and Plum. The latter of the two brings with it an irresistible and brooding warmth, and to us, the Payne’s Grey embodies the very definition of ‘fumé’ with its sultry smokiness.
They also make the watch hands in-house too, which is another set of old school skills we should all celebrate. Watch manufacturing was once a big deal in the UK, with places like Warrington, Prescot near Liverpool, London, Dundee, Cheltenham in Gloucester, Ystradglynais in South Wales and Edinburgh all hosting several makers and freelance suppliers.
Production is taking place in Scotland at an Ordain’s factory and delivery is expected in Feb 2021. Price is just under £1800, which isn’t cheap for an ETA 2824 powered watch, featuring a 38mm case and 50m depth resistance. But the price reflects the huge costs in producing something this beautiful in small numbers.
Trikona watches have a new Kickstarter project live right now, with Swiss quartz movements inside UK designed cases. They’re striking, clean, modernist designs and funding targets have already been reached so the project is a goer. Here’s some details from Trikona.
Trikona London introduces their affordable range of Swiss Made Warrior watches. The SIGNATURE and R3SOLUTE collections both champion the ethos of “The Power of 3” and “A New Dawn”, evoking the strength, resolve and endurance of our warrior spirit. Every model in the SIGNATURE collection comes in 40mm 316L stainless steel, with the iconic triangle appliques at the 6, 9 and 12 position, and the number 3 at position 3 embodied under sapphire crystal glass.
A unique design features of the SIGNATURE models is the Tri-Crown. Specially designed, as an empowering symbol of the brand, with moleté design. Powering the watch is Swiss Made Ronda 715 Quartz movement, with 60 months battery life. It offers a power saving mechanism when the crown is pulled out to the time setting position, thus, reducing the battery consumption by approx. 70%. Water resistance is 5ATM, and every watch comes with a 2 year warranty.
To add some woke credentials to the Signature models, they feature vegan alcantara straps. Which is an excellent marketing ploy we reckon.
R3SOLUTE brings a radical look to a classic, elegant design. Stylish watches in 3 different statement options. All 3 models (R1, R2 and R3) have Superluminova to represent the light within us all, as a reminder to continuously “Rise”, no matter what
Every model in the R3SOLUTE Collection comes in 40mm 316L stainless steel, with the iconic triangles at the 6, 9 and 12 position, embodied under a mineral glass. The unique Tri-Crown has been simplified in this collection, to offer a more minimalistic, yet sporty feel, without taking away from the iconic symbol of Trikona London.
R3SOLUTE hosts Swiss Made Ronda 515 Quartz movement, offering 45 months battery life and a power saving mechanism when the crown is pulled out to the time setting position, reducing the battery consumption by approx. 70%. Water resistance is 5ATM(50M) , and every watch comes with a 2 year warranty.
The new Broadsword models from Bremont capture the military feel perfectly. With a bronze case and dial designs inspired by the famous `Dirty Dozen’ movie, and the watches featured in the film, these are high-spec, hand-assembled watches built for a tough life. The 40mm bronze case has a dash of tin in there, which Bremont says helps durability. Naturally, there’s a sapphire crystal and three dial colour choices; slate, green/teal and tobacco brown. The BE movement has 31 jewels, and is something of a make or break project for Bremont.
Why? Well, Bremont have just invested a huge amount of cash in building a factory in the UK, and they are making their own in-house movements, after some critcism a few years back. Like many independent watch brands, Bremont started out buying in Swiss movements. But long term, if you want to compete at the luxury/collector end of the market, where buyers are forking out £3000-£6000 per watch, then you really have to go bespoke. Fact is, anyone can buy a really good auto/mechanical watch, bronze case, 300m dive rating, with an ETA/Sellita movement for £500. So you need to justify the price tag with technology and unique, `made in Britain’ appeal.
The sub-second dial is a nice touch, a nod to the old Dirty Dozen and `Arrow’ watches from WWII of course. But in some ways, it limits the appeal as it paints the Broadsword into an old fashioned corner. There’s no denying it’s a functional tool watch, but it won’t impress anyone with a keen eye for design. It lacks the visual punch of a Breitling Endurance for example, or the jet-age instrument cluster vibe of a Bell & Ross.
The new range feature each of the three main UK armed forces, Army, Navy and RAF on the caseback and are priced at £2995. Verdict? Wait for a limited edition VE Day/SAS edition to be released, then buy one of say 500 numbered watches. That’s far more likely to be a genuine collectors item one day.
There are some who love UK brand Christopher Ward and others who regard their Sellita powered watches as essentially entry level and therefore not quite prestige. Maybe a Tissot has more heritage, and even a Hamilton Ventura has cool vibes? Well, you can argue those points down the pub – actually you probably can’t as the pubs are closing down like 20th century blacksmiths, but that’s another story.
The C60 Sapphire is a starter watch, no question. But what good value it offers. Beautiful blue tinted caseback lets you see the 26 jewel movement and the crystal has a blue tinge as well. Inside, the SW200 engine is based on an ETA 2824 which is arguably one of the great workhorse Swiss movements of modern times. Reliable and accurate? Of course.
True, you’re buying a £900 watch, not a 9K Swiss watch from a House of Horology. For that bargain price you would not expect a depth rating of 600m but you do get that with the C60. Impressive. It’s a 40mm, 316 grade stainless steel case, with a uni-directional click bezel too. This is a watch that can handle an afternoon lolling about in the pool on holiday, or a scuba dive off the coast of Portugal into deep water – no worries.
Add in features like a quick change strap/bracelet release and you’re being snobby if you don’t consider this as a genuinely decent watch for the money. OK, you may lose say 50% of the value if you choose to sell after 3 years or so, but there are some brands and watches where you could easily lose a bigger percentage.
If watch collecting isn’t about investment, but rather enjoyment, then we reckon the C60 Sapphire is one model that you’ll keep wearing just because you love the deep blue looks. That’s no bad thing, life is for living.