PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 7 Sep, 2015.
Their in-house SH21 movement has been the basis of a number of wonderful releases for Christopher Ward since its release last June. The very first watch to house it was the C9 5-day, which I reviewed here. A gorgeous watch, but too big for many at 43mm in diameter. This has led to the release of this watch, which is exactly the same in every way – apart from the size. It’s a much more respectable 40mm, which fits the classic / dress watch category to a tee. Because it’s so similar, I won’t go into too much detail with this review – so please feel free to have a read of the 43mm review here.
The 40mm version will cost you the same as the 43mm – that being £1375 (not sure why, although I think it’s more of a case of the 43mm version being dropped in price from £1500). So currently, you can get either for the same price. Really then, it’s down to whether you prefer to get more for your money or just prefer larger watches, or a watch that fits the dress code a little better.
The case size is obviously the basis between these two versions of the C9 5-Day. The 40mm version weighs 96g, with a 48.5mm lug to lug length and a height of 13.45mm. This is the same height as the 43mm, and has a proportional 3mm less lug to lug length. The same height, yet smaller diameter makes the 40mm a little on the dumpy side, as some feel that it’s a little too deep for a dress watch. With the 43mm, at least the larger diameter could mask the height a little bit more. Personally, I can get along with this height fine, and it doesn’t cause any problems whilst wearing a shirt or suit.
The case is flawlessly machined and finished, with brushed sides and a mirror-like polished top and bottom.
The caseback’s one and only job is to act as a porthole to the movement, so it’s pretty much all exhibition window with a small ring around it containing the watch specifics deeply engraved on.
The crystal used on both the front and the rear is the same Museum Grade sapphire crystal with AR08 anti-reflective coating. I’m not entirely sure how it’s different to usual, but it certainly provides excellent clarity, and the AR delivers a gentle flash of blue in certain lights.
The crown is a fairly standard affair, sitting comfortably on the right side of the case without any crown guards. It’s a good size, fitting the overall design well and feeling good in the hand. To be careful mole rely honest, the rip could probably be a little bit better, as doe to the heavy duty feel of the movement it can be a little stiff to wind up – so in some instances you can’t quite get enough purchase on the crown. The CW logo is embossed on the end as is usually the custom with their crowns.
The case in general is clean and tidy, and rather simple. Still, it’s built in a way to compete with the luxury brands – and it certainly succeeds in matching them in terms of quality.
I feel the smaller diameter works in the dials favour. It’s more balanced, mainly due to the positioning of the date window. Because this is limited where it goes by the size of the movement, it’s in the more visually appealing location of nearer the edge of the dial. The entire aura of the watch is more subtle too due to the 40mm size.
The dial’s construction is as outstanding as expected – a crisp, flat, optic white is the perfect base for the elegant and simple design. The printing for the logo and minute track is all fine and precise, whilst the applied hour markers are beautifully constructed and catch the light gracefully. The date window has a very neat border to it, rather than a straight cut – a much more sophisticated solution.
The hands are all flawlessly made – the two main hands providing the only splash of colour thanks to their chemically blued finish. In some angles they appear black, but then the colour comes through with a slight adjustment. They are all extremely delicate too, stretching far into the dial – the hour hand reaches the base of the hour markers, and the minute and seconds hands almost touch the outer edge. Beautiful design.
It is, genuinely, a classy watch with a stunning dial which is exquisitely constructed. It may be a little simple for some, but I feel that it is refined, distinguished, and splendid.
As I always find to be the case, the leather strap on the Christopher Ward C9 40mm is very soft, comfortable, and well made.
The embossed alligator pattern Italian leather is good quality from the feel and thickness of it, and the stitching is all solid and on point. The light tan underside of the leather is incredibly soft, providing a comfy wear on the wrist.
The strap is 20mm wide at the lugs, reducing to 18mm at the Bader deployant clasp. I really like this buckle, as it’s extremely secure, whilst being very easy to use, impressive in build, and very unobtrusive. It’s surprisingly thin, so it doesn’t add too much depth to the strap – and it’s also contoured to follow the shape of the wrist.
The movement powering the C9 is Christopher Ward’s in-house movement, the SH21, and is the main reason behind the higher than usual price for a CW. Designed by Johannes Jahnke to be like a “tractor”, it’s a sturdy and reliable workhorse that will (hopefully) last for a very long time. The good news is that in the unlikely case that it doesn’t, Christopher Ward provide a simply brilliant 5 year warrantee.
The SH21 is completely finished by hand. It’s not the most glamorous finishing, but the idea that someone (rather than a machine) has physically hand ground the plates, and polished the bevelling is impressive.
What’s also impressive is the specs. It’s a chronometer, as in it has a COSC certification. This means that the movement is guaranteed to be as accurate as possible no matter what position it’s in. This alone costs CW £100 so it eats into their overheads quite a lot, making the price tag of £1375 even more impressive.
The SH21 has a whopping 120 hour power reserve (hence the “5 Day” label), which is treble the usual 40 hour usually found on mechanical watches. This is because of the larger than normal twin barrels wired in parallel.
It’s a high beat movement, so it runs at 28.8k bph or 8 ticks a second – and has a delightfully smooth sweep, with no wobble whatsoever.
Other specs include 31 jewels, a hacking second hand, and hand winding capability.
It truly is a great movement, and if you haven’t heard about it yet then you must have been living under a rock for the past year or so.
I thought that the original 43mm version was a delightful watch. Now, I agree that it is just a tad too large. This 40mm version is right on the sweet spot in regards to size. It feels perfect on the wrist (still maybe a little too tall for some, but it has to house the SH21), and I think the design also better suits the smaller dial.
I called the 43mm version an enthralling watch in my original review, and this is just the same. Impeccably made, it just looks and feels like a luxury timepiece that is worth much more than its price tag.