To many, Christopher Ward is known as a brand that produces very reasonably priced quartz and mechanical watches. Contrary to the extravagant marketing we are used to by bigger and more renowned watch brands, Christopher Ward dispenses with the hype, selling quality watches online at good prices directly to customers. In coincidence with their 10-year anniversary, the London-based watch brand has risen from humble origins with the debut of the C9 Harrison 5-Day Automatic containing their first totally in-house assembled and designed movement, the Calibre SH21. Now this is bound to cause some uproar in the watch industry.
For this statement making step that the company has made, Christopher Ward has collaborated and merged with Swiss company Synergies Horlogeres as the key development and production arm of all in-house made movements and components. This means that Synergies Horlogeres is responsible for all in-house made movements and components of the brand. Currently, Synergies Horlogeres is already responsible for the in-house modules that Christopher Ward has placed over its base ETA or Sellita movements in the various Harrison collection models, and have extended that work into a fully in-house made movement with the Calibre SH21.
The mastermind behind this exhilarating new base movement is a modest watchmaker named Mr. Johannes Jahnke. Previously well known for his creation of the Lang & Heynes King Albert of Saxony watch, a classical yet complicated timepiece with a chronograph placed on the backside and a central minute counter, today, he was inspired by Christopher Ward’s modest approach of creating luxurious timepieces that are accessible to a wider audience and hence jumped on board in this new company.
Let us take a closer look at the Calibre SH21.
The Calibre SH21 was designed with two key things in mind: Performance and Value. The SH21 consists of 164 parts in total with each part being produced by a range of suppliers that the company has collaborated with. This involved getting parts of the movement from some of Switzerland’s best watch industry suppliers and even interestingly, obtaining supplies from the medical device industry as well.
Unfortunately despite these achievements, this renders them as the target of controversy as to whether SH21 can be defined as “in-house”, since many of its parts are produced by suppliers but are then assembled under Christopher Ward’s control. Nevertheless, this issue was adequately addressed as most watch brands do work with suppliers to attain parts for their movements. The question is the degree and extent of this movement. With regards to Christopher Ward, the SH21 movement is 100% Swiss Made and the movement is designed and assembled by them under quality control guidelines in-house. Hence, its “in-house-movement” is in no doubt valid, patented and proud to call its very own.
In addition, all SH21 movements are COSC Chronometer certified, a standard that raises more demands for production quality. One of the most significant features of the SH21 are its double mainspring barrels, which offers an impressive 120 hours (5 days) of power reserve. This is coupled with a 4Hz (28,800 bph) frequency of the balance wheel. This is ideal as the power reserve is prolonged without being short- changed for a slower operating speed.
The C9 Harrison comes together with an intricate combination of sapphire crystal and dial against baton hour markers and needle-style hands. The design is simplistic and minimum, yet the contrast is simply stunning. Sized at 43mm wide in steel and 13.45mm thick, it may come across as a substantially large timepiece for a dress watch. However, when worn on the wrist it should sit comfortably.
The C9 Harrison case is also decorated with a brushed middle section and polished bezel and caseback, complemented by a Louisiana alligator strap with a “Bader deployant”.
With a long power reserve, COSC Chronometer certification, automatic winding, and 100% Swiss Construction, exclusive to Christopher Ward, what more could one ask for? Yet, it would seem, with the SH21 making a debut here, we can certainly expect more varied designs in the future. That will definitely be very exciting.