For some reason I have steered slightly clear of Christopher Ward as a brand, I have not warmed completely to them. I think this might be because their positioning is based on a very commercial message, great value well made watches. I think I might have been doing them a disservice especially when you consider some of their recent launches.
Over the Christmas holidays I had the chance to see one of their watches for a little longer than the cursory trial at a show. My brother turned up with a Trident GMT on a “Bond” nato strap.
Although this model is one of the many “homage” to the Rolex Submariner, hence the Bond strap, it does have enough design details that make it a little more individual. For starters the case is 42mm. Then there is the trident shaped second hand and the textured ( I am sure there is a technical description) finish on the dial. The final obvious difference on this watch is the red second time zone hand.
Adding to the charm of this particular watch is the steel bezel and the old style Chr. Ward logo.
My brother tells me he bought this watch a few years ago in the sale, duty free, so paid well below the £700 plus of the current model. For this he has a well made GMT tool watch which he says he uses when visiting “dodgy” countries, were his more normal wrist wear might attract the wrong sort of attention. Maybe I should start checking eBay.
Bamford, the well known London based customisers of high end watches has for some time provided a “service watch” for their clients for use whilst their own watch is being worked on.
In two weeks they will make these watches available for sale.
The Bamford Mayfair range of watches are available in a number of combinations. From a choice in dial colour, bezel, coating and type of strap, you can choose a Bamford Mayfair to match your own taste.
The 40mm case will be made of military grade titanium. The movement will be a trusty Miyota calibre 2035.
For £425 you can look like you are having your Rolex customised.
Sometimes real life gets in the way of a blogger’s blogging. Last week I was invited to the launch of Farer’s new dive watch. As a fan of both dive watches and British watch brands I was really looking forward to attending – then I was stuck in a conference in Brighton and could not attend – bother.
The teaser photos on social media in the run up top the launch did not really give much of a clue to the final appearance. I think you will agree they have come up with a great looking watch. The Farer designers have managed to come up with a dive watch that does not follow the usual “submariner” direction. The look is individual whilst at the same time looking classic. The most similar design I can remember is the Longines Heritage Legend.
The Farer cushion case design was chosen for strength. Developed to allow the architecture of the Aqua Compressor system to work seamlessly within the water, it is carved out of a solid block of high-grade 316L stainless steel and finished with highly polished sides and case back, with a fine decorative edge lip cut into the case surrounding the bezel, creating a subtle contrast against the brushed top of the cushion case. The case is characteristic of Farer, dropping down at the lug for a more compact feel and superior comfort on the wrist.
The Aqua Compressor case has the key features of a classic Super-Compressor case design – twin crowns, screwed on case back, compressed O’ring gasket, internal rotating bezel. However the Farer Aqua Compressor design has evolved the specifications of the original system which was created when the water resistance of watches was a big challenge. With the progress of modern materials, they have gone through a whole series of developments to create a very compact but highly technically capable dive watch case. Now tried and tested to modern standards to be taken to depths of 300m / 1000ft.
The Farer Aqua Compressor collection is powered by the Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 Elaboré Non-Date Movement. This is a rare piece from ETA, in that it features no date within the mechanics to make this 100% functional for the diver’s needs. A highly reliable, workhorse movement.
There is a screw down back case to hold the flat sapphire crystal exhibition glass, both utilising compressor gaskets to secure the water resistance and withstand the high pressures to 300m/1000ft.
The watch is available as one of three variants, each named after ships of the Royal Navy.
As well as the natural rubber strap the watches are supplied with a 316L Stainless Steel bracelet.
All this for £ 1095 – which looks a pretty reasonable price. I hope to get my hands on a physical example of the watch soon. I think the Helga version is my current favourite.
This event has now the highlight of my Grinidgetime calendar. It is an opportunity for me to meet in person many of the people I have been writing about over the year. Given the number of people that also want to meet these people I limit these meetings to a quick hello, just to put a face to Grinidgetime. Last year I managed to shake the hand of the great Roger Smith. This year there was at least his “Great Britain” watch.
Again, I have to mention I was disappointed that neither Meerson, Pinion or Schofield were exhibiting this year. I was also disappointed that Farer did not have a stand, the brand caught me a little by surprise and I really like their new range of automatics.
Our first port of call was The Deep Time diver’s watch exhibition where I really enjoyed seeing an early Panerai, a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and an Eterna Kontiki helps which remind us there are alternatives to Rolex Submariners. The first British stop was the Bremont stand, which disappointingly look identical to last year’s. So I moved swiftly onto the first floor where to see the Christopher Ward stand, this year featuring Morgan three wheeler to highlight the relationship between the two companies. There was also their star watchmaker Johannes Jahnke working away at a bench.
Then up to the second floor where I almost literally bumped into Nicholas B-W of Fears Watches looking very pleased with himself. The show was going very well. Chatting with Nicholas he explained a little more to me about the philosophy of the brand. Apparently, he had been advised that the brands history would permit them to be much more upmarket. Nicholas explained that he thought this would be a betrayal of what the brand had been, good value watches with Swiss movements. He went on to explain that one key design feature of the Radcliff watch was legibility in the dark, interestingly having the date window is key in being able to orientate the watch.
My editorial assistant ( my just teenage son) was very impressed, He was even more impressed when Nicholas let him try on “watch No. 1”
The next stop was to say hello Toby Sutton to see how Dennison was going a year from their launch at last year’s Salon. He was wearing the material Denco53 with the French paratrooper strap which is a really great combination. This is the only picture I have managed to find, you must admit this strap looks made for this watch.
A photo posted by DENNISON (@dennisonwatchcaseco) on
Next was Robert Loomes; I wanted to congratulate him on his talk the day before and of course to have a closer look at the new Stamford. I also had the pleasure of meeting his wife Robina, apparently the strategic mind of the couple. Robert was his usual enthusiastic self and was very pleased with the reception the watch had received at the show. It looks like he will be busy for sometime to come.
Our last “British” stop was to see the new “Portsmouth” at the Garrick stand. Here I had hoped to get some pictures of the watch, unfortunately exhibition cases and and an iPhone prevented this. So here is a picture from the Garrick website.
David Brailsford of Garrick was a another happy man. He told me sales at the show were going very well. They had sold out of there Regulator model and the Portsmouth was generating a great deal of interest despite the £17,995 price. So the Norfolk watchmaker is going to busy for sometime as well. Finally, I managed to resolve a doubt I had been harboring for a while, David confirmed to me that the watch was originally going to be called the Plymouth. Being Hampshire born I am much happier with this name.
So to sum up, another very enjoyable show this year. The best news being the great the great reception that the British brands exhibiting are receiving from everyone. Well done.
Tomorrow, Hamtun Watches are a small Southampton, British based company, launches on Kickstarter on with a goal of £20,000 to begin production.The Hamtun H1, which has been in development just over a year.
As you can see from the image above the watch promises to be very handsome.
The watch was designed in Southampton, UK and is built in China at a specialist factory.
The British brand aim to stand out In a sea of “me too” minimalistic Kickstarter watch campaigns, the aim was to build something that was both truly affordable and high quality. Something people would enjoy wearing, not something to wear for a short period and then dispose of.
The H1 is a custom designed 41mm diameter titanium dive watch. With the exception of the movement, everything is custom made to our designs and specifications.
As well as using high-grade titanium, they have a matte ceramic bezel, 20ATM water resistance, a double domed sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating inside and out), and an option of a custom designed titanium bracelet or silicone strap. It’s available in 3 styles. My personal preference going to the more traditional die watch look – white.
The interesting part is, they are planning to launch on Kickstarter tomorrow, Tuesday 27 September at 5pm BST/midday Eastern/9am Pacific, early backers being offered the chance to buy the watch at $199. You can see a preview of their campaign now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rossdavis/2033132819?token=7a9e8bd5 which looks like a great deal if the watch lives up to its promised high quality.
A further element I like is the their use of the Seiko NH35A automatic movement rather than the more usual, for Kickstarter brands, Swiss quartz movement. Many people still do not appreciate how tough and reliable Seiko movements are making them ideal for tool type watches.
I am certainly looking forward to seeing these watches in the “metal”.
On one of my browsing sessions I came across another British “micro-brand” that has escaped my notice up until now. Offshore Professionalb from Classic Chronographs Ltd whose stated aim is to build unique chronographs under the OFFSHORE Professional model name.
These are the broad specifications:
44 mm diameter (47.5 mm incl crown), 14.5 mm thick
Custom made triple complication 25 jewel Swiss Valjoux automatic movement with anti-magnetic key components
Movement manufactured to a customised top echelon grade with decorated and rhodium plated mainplates
Day and Date display
Hour, minute and 1/8 second chronograph
Layered shock resistance
Pressure rated to 10 ATM (300 ft water depth)
Suitable for any climate (tested in the arctic, tropics & middle east)
4 layer dial designed for maximum low-light and harsh-light visibility
C1 Super Luminova solid wafers in hour and minute hand
C3 Super Luminova hour markers on dial
No luminous markings on subdial or second hands for clear night time legibility of hour and minute hands
Silicon impregnated leather strap with rubber core and neoprene anti-sweat lining
316L stainless steel multi-hinge deployment clasp with engraved Trident logo
316L stainless steel bracelet with Trident logo deep engraved into a butterfly clasp
Both the bracelet and strap are included with each watch
Leather travel case suitable for up to 2 watches
2 year Warranty & a Lifetime Guarantee
There is a great description of this limits of this guarantee :
There isn’t much in day-to-day life that will destroy one of these watches. If you break a crown, button, sapphire crystal, damage the movement or do anything else from any reasonable level of accident (dropping onto a tiled floor for instance) over the first 2 years of ownership then just send it back and it will be repaired or replaced. Same goes for any water ingress provided you promise you didn’t push the chronograph buttons when swimming.
The warranty extends to the strap, clasp and bracelet. You can swim or shower with the leather strap as it is silicon impregnated to be more waterproof than your skin, but please remember not to apply any mosquito repellents containing high levels of DEET as they will dissolve the neoprene lining and leave a black stain on your wrist.
If you manage to break an OFFSHORE Professional Field Engineer through something not covered by the Warranty, like running over it with a car, then I will replace it at half the price of a new one. This is a lifetime guarantee (my lifetime as I don’t want to pass any liabilities onto my children) regardless of abuse, lack of servicing or number of owners. Failure analysis is a important part of engineering and from a dent or damage size, I can back calculate the impact energy that caused it and the energy levels that were absorbed or transmitted through each of the shock absorbing layers.
Two days ago Christopher Ward announced a new version of their C60 the Pro 600.
This is their description of the watch.
Built to the most exacting standards, the C60 Trident Chronograph is a watch created for diving professionals that even non-swimmers will covet.
The boldness of the deep navy and metallic yellow dial design catches the eye immediately and, upon closer inspection, it is easy to be impressed with the intricacies of what may be our most detailed dial to date. Worthy of special attention is the 60 seconds sub-dial which “breathes” via a rotating disc behind a cut-out display delivering ease of reading for the diver as well as a fascinating appeal for the more casual wearer.
The uni-directional ceramic bezel has been enhanced with the professional diver in mind by the addition of a full minute-track, and a better defined font for the numerals which are filled with high-grade SuperLuminova for outstanding luminosity.
Engineered to resist water at up to depths of 600 metres (2000 feet) the fluid contours of the Trident case, which also incorporates an automatic helium release valve, surround one of the most reliable and robust chronograph movements, the self-winding ETA Valjoux 7750. All told, therefore, this is a remarkable watch that signals another milestone in an unfolding story that positions Christopher Ward in the vanguard of British watch design.
The watch will be available early March.
Here is a nice dramatic video showing the watch off
From what I have read these watches are the kind of watch a real working diver would use.
Having first been made for divers and support staff who were left without a watch when the value of their vintage rolex diving watches exploded leaving them the option of a large windfall or too self conscious of wearing such a valuable item in a hostile workplace, Paul Scurfield watch enthusiast and saturation diver tried to fill the void with a few affordable watches built to a high standard using the best materials.
Divers working in the North Sea are made up in teams of three and on any working dive you have a diver 1, diver 2 and the bellman, diver 1 controls the dive and diver 2 is there to make his job easier, the bellman tends the divers from the diving bell and the divers work in the water for a maximum six hours, a normal saturation diving system will house four teams of three divers covering the full twenty four hours of the working day stopping only for bad weather or crew changes, the work period for the divers is 28 days including decompression.