Christopher Ward showcases its revamped aesthetic with the new C8 UTC World Timer
Following its comprehensive rebranding a couple of months ago, Christopher Ward has launched a new world timer that demonstrates the brand’s more contemporary approach to design.
We’ve seen several new world timers recently, from Hamilton’s utilitarian Khaki Chrono Worldtimer to Patek Philippe’s rather lovely ref. 5930 Worldtimer Chronograph, via the IWC Timezoner. Vacheron Constantin made the world timer the headline story around its re-launch of the Overseas collection, and we covered the entire history of the complication a few weeks ago. So where does the 44mm C8 UTC Worldtimer fit in?
The C8 UTC Worldtimer comes in steel or black DLC with a highly legible, minimalist dial. Oversized Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock and pipette hands give a slightly military look; the design is apparently based on the face of Smith’s Mark II A clocks that were installed in Spitfire cockpits during World War II. There are a number of different design cues flying around here – no pun intended. It’s a relatively loose inspiration – you can see an example of the Smiths clock here, and the elements that really make it over to the watch are: black dial with large arabic numerals, and four central hands.
There are a number of other design cues coming in, as well. We’ve got oversized crowns at 10 and 4 (one for the time, one for the world time) with thick knurling around the edges. You might be thinking, by the way, that this arrangement belongs to “supercompressor”-style dive watches, but plenty of world timers have taken this path too, right up to Andersen Geneve. It’s arguably more satisfying than one crown at 3 and another at 8, as is often found. And what it does share with the supercompressors is a chunky, utilitarian feel.
Typographically the watch isn’t so close to the Smiths clock. There is a 1940s military vibe to it (it actually recalls the Ralph Lauren Safari collection, with the large 6 and 12), however, and it’s less important for the watch to be faithful to an arbitrarily chosen source of inspiration than it is for it to actually work as a coherent design. On this front, it feels like the brand is making good progress – the re-brand was not universally loved, to put it mildly, but on this watch that logo works a lot better – it needs more dial text around it than it had on the new Trident pieces.
We also have to reserve praise for that colour scheme. It seems, at least from the press pictures, that the temptation to go “full heritage” has been avoided and instead of the now ubiquitous faded lume, we’ve got a brighter, bolder, golder colour. If no-one else has yet, let us dub this the Christopher Ward “John Player Special”.
The watch has a sandwich dial construction, which together with the inner bezel, 24-hour ring and applied 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock numerals gives a nice amount of depth and texture.
The last worldtimer from Christopher Ward was the C9 Worldtimer, which had an altogether more traditional feel – think Frederique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer. The blue and steel dial featured a multi-layered, textured map of the world, with an aperture at 12 o’clock displaying an abbreviated airport name and a red dot corresponding to its location on the map.
The points of colour on the C8 UTC Worldtimer come in the form of two scarlet arrows, one on the inner rotating bezel pointing to the city and the other on a central hand indicating 24-hour time. This is shown on an outer ring, either in that JPS two-tone black and gold or a more traditional black and silver, indicating day and night.
There’s a date window at 3 o’clock opposite the new logo at 9 o’clock, and the watches come on either brown or black leather straps, with very on-trend contrast stitching in cream. An engraving of the Farnborough Wind Tunnels, the site for aerodynamic research that aided the development of the Spitfire and Concorde, appears on each caseback. Another nod to vintage aviation that may or may not make you feel more strongly about the watch – there’s no direct association between the brand and Farnborough, as there was with Breitling a couple of years ago, but it’s fairly harmless stuff.
Inside is the self-winding ETA 2893-2 with a 42-hour power reserve, meaning that the C8 UTC Worldtimer comes in at a pretty competitive £899 in steel or £950 in black.