By Carl Scutt
So you decided you’re in the market for a luxury watch, you have a little cash burning a hole in your pocket but it’s a modest budget of $1500 so where do you start looking for your entry level luxury timepiece?
The list of luxury watch brands is surprisingly broad making the search difficult but your budget helps inform your possibilities. Basically, you can forget about Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Rolex, but maybe you can stretch to Omega or TAG Heure, but with prices starting around $3,300 for the cheapest Omega and $1700 for a TAG, it’s likely you’re going to need to save a few more dollars or look elsewhere.
At this point maybe you’re still convinced the only luxury watch worth having will be a Swiss Made, and indeed, the Swiss Made timepiece is, and always has been, the de facto or possibly the generic go-to feature for anyone looking for luxury within horology.
This means you may have a brand in mind and it’s probably one of the famous brands that unfortunately command high prices, but, have you ever considered looking at some of the less well-known brands that offer quality products at keener entry level prices?
The Price of History
When you buy a Swiss Made watch and pay the high price you’re paying for a uniquely beautiful thing which nobody can deny but hold the phone, you’re also paying a lot for the privilege of buying into that brands history of watch making. You are paying a premium to know years, possibly centuries of master watch making craftsmanship is encompassed in the very timepiece you wear on your wrist.
While this is a powerful feeling and one that we all aspire to, it’s one thing you may have to shelve until the time you can afford the high prices. Think of it as the summit, the panicle of your uphill struggle to own the watch of your dreams.
But is there another way to look at luxury? What if the focus was on the workmanship and quality rather than the Swiss history? What if this quality and attention to detail could be found elsewhere, perhaps in a British Brand? I’d like to introduce you to a luxury watch brand you may not have considered yet
Christopher Ward Watches
Christopher Ward watches came about when three friends Chris Ward, Mike France, and Peter Ellis decided to start a watch company back in 2002 that reflected their shared interest in horology, but this wasn’t going to be any ordinary watch brand.
Their aim was simple, to bring premium watches to the widest possible customer base selling from their website directly to their customers. With no expensive marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements, or third-party retailers involvement, the relatively low costs incurred with this process meant the savings could be passed to the customers.
Their attitude towards their customers was refreshing in that they were determined to treat their customers the way they’d want to be treated themselves, with honesty, openness, efficiency, and care. So solid was their commitment to these values many of customers have become more like friends than mere consumers.
The C5 Malvern Automatic was their first watch to be released in 2005 to a suspicious public as Dave Malone, member of the influential Timezone forum admitted, after buying the watch in an attempt to expose the three as fraudsters, Malone said: “The fact that Christopher Ward can supply a watch of this quality at this price makes even the ordinary Swiss and German brands look overpriced.”
C5 Malvern MKIII Automatic
Winning the approval of the industry and the paying public alike, more models were added to the collection including the first mechanical chronograph, the C7 Grande Rapide, and the collection continues to grow to this day.
The Swiss Connection
By 2008, Christopher Ward started working with Swiss watch making veteran Jörg Bader of Synergies Horlogères, based in Biel, Bienne Switzerland, to produce the Trident range which remains their best selling range to date. Fast forward to 2014 and Christopher Ward and Synergies Horlogères merged to become Christopher Ward SA and together released their Calibre SH21 designed entirely by Johannes Jahnke and built at their ‘atelier’, or workshop in Biel, Switzerland.
C60 Trident GMT 600
The partnership had produced the first commercially viable movement from a British watch brand in the last 50 years, making Christopher Ward one of a select few able to make their own movements or calibres.
Staying true to their original pricing model Christopher Ward always use the best possible components for their in-house designed pieces, calculating the selling price by working out the cost of production and multiplying it by three, to get a reasonable selling price that’s roughly one-quarter of the equivalent big name Swiss competitors price.
High Praise From The Industry
If you were wondering just how good these timepieces are and whether forgoing the Swiss name in favor of a Swiss Made watch without the Swiss name, you’ll be glad to know their bespoke JJ movement has received high praise. For example, the C9 Single Pusher Chronograph, powered by Calibre JJ02 found industry recognition in the Watchworld awards in 2014.
Not that it stops there, WatchPro magazine also gave positive feedback on the C9 Moonphase (Calibre JJ04), saying it was one of the 10 best mechanical watches of 2015 alongside side brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Audemars Piguet. Talk about competing against the established Swiss greats.
The Range is large a varied but the main focus is on Dress, Dive/Sport, Aviation, and Limited editions, but for a 30,000 feet overview the price points run from $240 to $3,330 for example.
C3 Chronograph MKIII
The Take Away
Let’s put all this together. CW design and built their own watches including the movements built in their workshop in Switzerland. This means the CW is a genuine Swiss Made watch built by a British company who’s principle aim is to facilitate the purchase of a premium watches at affordable prices, giving as many people a chance to enjoy owning a luxury timepiece.
The collection is vast with limited editions and customizations available from a starting price of $450, so this is looking like a no brainer. What you get is a top quality Swiss Made luxury watch with beautiful design and pedigree at an unbeatable price, but wait, it doesn’t stop there.
Right the GBP is low so you can take advantage of the low cost, and claim the tax back, what’s not to like? Bottom line, this is exactly where the luxury market starts. Be smart, buy British, well, if you want to. For more info, please visit christopherward.co.uk