PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 26 Jun, 2014.
Christopher Ward’s flagship Harrison range is becoming quite the impressive lineup. They all have customised movements in some form or another, being the Jumping Hour, Worldtimer, Mono Pusher, and now the Big Day Date. They all share a simplistic and very elegant design, and the latest addition is no different. It’s the cheapest, coming in at £650, but that doesn’t mean you get anything less. You still get a gorgeous, well made dress watch with a modified movement – would you expect anything less from Christopher Ward? Let’s take a closer look at the C9 Big Day Date to see if it really is a good buy at this price.
The first thing you notice with the BDD’s case is the size. It measures in at 43mm in diameter, with a height of 12.3mm, and a lug to lug length of 51mm. This makes it on the larger end of the scale for a dress watch.
But, I prefer to think of it as a “dress watch for the modern man”. It is true that larger watches are increasing in popularity nowadays, and Christopher Ward have prepared for this. There aren’t too many dress watches out there which are this size. Unfortunately, however, this is a real turn off for some, believing that a dress watch shouldn’t be this large. For others, due to their wrist size, unfortunately they can’t wear it at all. Personally, I love it.
The whole watch weighs in at 101g, so it’s actually not too heavy for a watch this size. For comparison, the CW C60 Trident and the Steinhart Ocean 1 both weigh around 170g, mainly thanks to their bracelets. The BDD still feels comfortable and unobtrusive on the wrist, especially when the height is no taller than the majority of other watches.
The lug width is 22mm, which is a fairly standard strap size. So you’ll be able to easily change the strap if you’d like to, not that it would be necessary as the strap is great. But more on that later.
The 316L stainless steel case of the Big Day Date has brushed sides, and a polished top (the bezel), bottom (the caseback), and also the inside of the lugs.
The lug shape is smart, thin and elegant when looking at the case side on, with quite a sharp downturn. Due to the size of the case this shape of the lugs is vital to fit the wrist well.
The bezel is polished as mentioned before, but incredibly thin. I think this is looks great as it allows the dial to be the main feature of the watch, plus it adds to the classy appearance if the watch.
The push-pull crown is also polished, and quite understated. No need for a screw-in crown as the watch isn’t designed to be submerged in water. The Big Day Date is rated at 5ATM / 50m, which equates to having a shower or being submerged in very shallow water. Not that you’d want to do that wearing this watch. The crown is sized perfectly, in the correct ratio to the case. It has subtle yet effective grip, not too large or garish, but good enough to hand wind the movement and change the time. On the end of the crown is the CW logo deeply embossed on the end. Overall, a well designed and made aspect of the watch.
The caseback is secured by 6 screws, and is completely polished. Just like the rest of the watch, it is extremely simple and elegant – removing anything that is unnecessary. All it has etched is the serial number on one end, and the two words “Swiss Made” on the other. In the centre of the caseback is the exhibition window made of sapphire crystal. It has a nice shape to it curving in to the case around the edges. The polished finish of the caseback is excellent, reflecting just like a mirror with no marks apparent.
Sitting in top of the case is a large, slightly domed sapphire crystal. It has an excellent layer of anti-reflective coating on the underside, with an attractive blue hue. It does a really good job of removing a great deal of reflections, and when you get the light just right, you get the blueness come through and all the polished aspects of the dial catch and reflect the light. This gives the appearance of a high end expensive luxury watch.
As is the whole of this watch, the case is designed to be simple and elegant. There’s nothing complex at all about it, it’s just a beautiful case, well made and spotlessly finished.
Just like the case, the dial of the Big Day Date is extremely simple, yet doesn’t look boring. This can often be the hardest thing to do, keep something as clean and minimal as possible, whilst making sure it’s interesting enough to catch the eye.
The dial colour is “optic white”, how that’s any different to a standard white I’m not too sure. But it is very… White. Nice.
Around the outer edge is a very subtle and minimal minute track, which is printed black. The printed markers are very thin, and the printing is very accurate and neat.
The applied hour markers are also extremely elegant. They’re thin and long polished steel batons. Once again, very simple, yet effective. They reflect the light along with the hands, glistening in a very attractive manner.
The overall printing has been kept to a minimum. In addition to the minute track, there is only the Christopher Ward logo printed in the top half, the word “Automatic” in the lower half, and a very small “Swiss Made” at bottom. And then there’s the day/date window. The logo and “Automatic” are both quite small in size, making sure not to overpower the simplicity of the dial.
The day/date window has a beveled inside edge immaculately done. Both wheels are white, the colour matching the dial perfectly, with black text. Both of these wheels have been completely custom made to fit this watch and it’s modified movement specifically (more on that later), which is pretty cool and impressive.
The day wheel text is nice and large, but not overpowering, thanks to the large letter spacing and classy serif font.
The date wheel is the same font size, matching perfectly with the day, the only difference being the numbers positioned slightly closer together. The day and the date wheels are split by a thin divider, which covers the gap between the two wheels.
Following the theme of the whole watch, the hands are very thin and simple. Elegance is once more the word to use here. The hour and minute hands are black and are a thin sword shape, with long counterweights cleverly filling out the empty space of the dial. The second hand is polished steel, and the same shape and design as the other two hands. It looks great in the light, when it gets a decent reflection, but sometimes (in low light conditions and when you’re face-on) it can be hard to differentiate between the minute and second hands as the can all appear the same colour. This could be a concern for some, as they’re more or less the same size too (the second hand being just a fraction longer).
I like how long all the hands are – the hour hand just creeping up to the base of the hour markers, and the minute and second hands stretching right out to the edge of the dial. All the hands are perfectly made, with absolutely no marks or flaws visible whatsoever.
There’s no denying that it’s a simple dial – and in this instance, simplicity is beauty. Just look at it – it’s so clean, crisp and one of the smartest watches available at the moment thanks to the dial. It’s good that the manufacturing and execution is just as excellent as the design.
The strap is 22mm wide, reducing to 20mm at buckle. It is Italian leather and it is excellent. Christopher Ward always have impressive leather straps, but this one is at an even higher level. Obviously it’s not quite as soft as their Louisiana Alligator straps, but it’s still delightful.
You get a choice of black or brown, personally I think black suits the smart dress style of the BDD best, as it is the usual choice for a watch to wear with a suit, plus it matches the hands and black printing on the dial. The stitching is thick, very high quality and well done. You get the impression that this leather strap won’t fall apart for a long time.
The feel of the leather is what makes this strap so nice. It’s not shiny or cheap looking, but rather it’s matt, extremely classy, and you can tell it’s soft just by looking at it. Which it is. It feels luxurious on the wrist thanks to its velvety underside. And the top is hard to describe, but it feels almost ‘tacky’ to the touch due to it’s softness. The leather is very special that’s for sure.
The Christopher Ward Big Day Date comes loaded with the new patented Bader buckle, which can also be found on the Worldtimer and Mono Pusher models. What’s so special about it? It’s the way that the loose end of strap is hidden under the buckle and other side of the strap, rather than the usual way of letting the loose bit flap around on top and securing it with a couple of loops. This makes for a very sophisticated and simple look on the wrist. All you can see is the very top part of the buckle with the two release buttons on either side. It’s also super quick and easy to put on, as you don’t have any spare strap to worry about. It’s such a simple idea, but very intelligently carried out. As you’d expect, the finishing is spotless. The whole buckle is polished stainless steel, bar the centre of the top bar, which is brushed. In the centre of this top bar is the CW logo deeply etched, another sign of good quality. The whole buckle is well build and manufactured, feeling solid and sturdy in the hand and on the wrist.
Security-wise, it has proved to be very reliable, not accidentally opening at all. The only very minor concern with this buckle is due to the fact that the strap is only secured by the one nipple, the leather strap itself can rotate ever so slightly left or right within the buckle. But this really is a very minor issue.
All in all, the strap on the Big Day Date is excellent, and it certainly provides you with the feeling that you are getting a high quality timepiece, which is reassuring when you’ve spent £650 on it.
Within the Big Day Date is a modified ETA 2836-2. How is it modified? If there was a standard movement with a normal day-date complication, the position of the window and wheels would be quite far into the dial, and not near the edge as it is now, as the wheels can only usually the same size as the movement itelself. So, being a stickler for good design no matter what, Christopher Ward has had to customise a movement just for this watch. That’s dedication. And at this price, an absolute steal too. You can see how big the movement is compared to the rest of the watch by looking at the caseback – the movement is only the size of the exhibition window. So there’s quite a lot of empty space around the edges.
So what does the modification do? It allows the custom larger than normal day and date wheels to be positioned outside the surface area of the top of the movement. I’m not sure how they do it, but this is another brain child of their master watchmaker Johannes Jahnke, who has already proved himself with the Jumping Hour, Mono Pusher and Worldtimer. Again, I stress very much that to get a Swiss Made watch with a modified automatic movement is fantastic for £650.
The actual movement itself, an ETA 2836-2, is proven and reliable, just as you’d expect. It is also extremely accurate, due to the fact that each movement is regulated when the modification is made. Along with this accuracy, you get the usual suspects, a high beat of 28.8k bph (8 ticks per second), automatic and hand winding, and hacking second hand. The second hand is extremely smooth with no wobble. Usually you can see a minuscule amount of stutter on a movement but the BDD is silky. This appearance of smoothness is most probably helped by the thinness of the hand itself.
From an aesthetic viewpoint, the movement isn’t particularly extravagant, it’s quite plain and all polished steel. The rotor has the usual guilloche engraving, and it’s nice to see it’s customised with a CW logo on. It appears to be either stuck on or printed. But either way, it’s a nice touch.
Even though their prices have risen slightly the last couple of years, I still wonder how Christopher Ward manage to create such wonderful watches at ridiculous prices. Yes, £650 is a lot. I’m not going to deny that for one moment. But what you do get for that price is simply great. The C9 Big Day Date is stunning at every level.