As I was heading into Town (SW London) for a meet up with some friends last Friday, and had to pass Maidenhead in any case, I kept a long held promise to myself and arranged a visit to the Christopher Ward showroom en route.
I say â€˜long heldâ€™, but in reality, up to a few months ago, Iâ€™d never even heard of them! But such has been my interest in watches since having the time to make it much more of an interest, albeit with limited knowledge, Iâ€™d pretty much made up my mind to buy a CW, the question was, which one?
I was also fortunate that I had some money set aside for a purchase, as Iâ€™d recently returned and received a full refund on a Mont Blanc Iâ€™d brought on New Yearâ€™s Eve, but which I found, sadly, that I couldnâ€™t get by with.
Iâ€™ve yet to buy a watch on-line and as Iâ€™m just off of J14 of the M4 and the CW office at Maidenhead is just off J8/9, it seemed an ideal opportunity to see 1st hand the various models I was interested in. But as usual for me these days, leaving things late, I only contacted them on the Wednesday before my trip and was eventually put through to Declan, but there were no problems and an 11am appointment was made.
So on the Friday, after a quick 40 minute scoot along the M4, I found myself in Maidenhead, which if you donâ€™t know it, is only a small town, meaning it was quick and easy to find where I needed to be. I parked up the car at a nearby pay and display (there is no visitor parking) and presented myself at their discreet, unmarked office in Park Street. Inside I was shown into the comfortable showroom, which is immediately to the left of the main entrance and kindly offered refreshments!
I had a list. And after much deliberation, Iâ€™d already decided on choosing between the following:
C8 Pilot Mk2 vintage
C11 MSL Automatic vintage
C11 Titanium Elite chronometer
The new C1000 Typhoon chronometer
Limited edition Bluebird
Well, the 1st thing I spotted was the Typhoon and itâ€™s a beautifully designed watch, with the lower sub-dial using a discreet type of RAF roundel to lift it above an otherwise all black finish. The case is ceramic and what struck me was how physically light it was, which isnâ€™t whatâ€™s normally expected in a watch costing Â£1500 - but what a thing of beauty and it looked so good on the wrist. But there is an all black version, which hasnâ€™t been released yet and although I was swayed by what was on my wrist, I decided to check out the all black version first before deciding whether to go ahead and buy. Thereâ€™s actually a 19 minute independent review of this watch on you tube, which is well worth checking out.
It turned out that the C8 Pilot didnâ€™t do it for me in vintage, I found I preferred the white hands and numerals with the black dial. It just felt â€˜cleanerâ€™ to me (excuse technical terms â€“lol), but having tried it on, I didnâ€™t find the brown leather strap too appealing, but no problem, as in a nano-second, Declan had fitted the strap that was originally with the vintage and I much preferred this combination of strap and watch. The vintage strap is quite light, almost with an orange hue, but I was assured it would darken and as that would a natural process, it should end up as very attractive.
My willpower to stick to my list was slowly being eroded with all the goodies laid out in front of me in 2/3 display boxes and Declan, who was incredibly patient and helpful throughout, was dutifully identifying various watches for me!
But next up was the Bluebird. Iâ€™d loved the design of this as presented on the â€˜net, but in person, it truly is a thing of beauty! The version I was interested in has a black leather strap, with white stitching and matching blue inlays within the strap. It fitted like a dream at the 1st attempt and the weight and balance felt perfect. It felt like the watch just belonged to me. It is however, a quartz watch, which wouldnâ€™t normally be my first choice (any more). And never having owned a chronograph before or even having much interest in them, I initially thought what turned out to be the large chrono stop-watch was the second hand - and was pleased to learn it wasnâ€™t, thus avoiding that â€˜jarringâ€™ movement. I knew immediately this was the watch I was going to buy.
But onwards and upwards and next on the wrist was the C11 titanium elite chronometer, another limited edition, with yellow numbers with yellow and black hands and quite a long black rubber strap. Again, what struck me was the lightness, especially compared with the normal version of this watch and to compare, I tried on the C11 Makaira pro 500, which is essentially the base model for the elite, minus Titanium and chronometer. I actually think I preferred the heavier pro 500, with white hands and numerals.
And so it went on â€“ and on â€“ I also belatedly took a shine to the C11 MSL Automatic, but again rejecting the vintage, I found I preferred the white hand and numerals of the â€˜Brownâ€™ version. I love the simple design and again this watch just felt a natural for me. The final watch that caught my attention was the C60 Trident GMT, with bracelet. I want a GMT and this is certainly an option.
I had arrived at just after 11am and asked Declan how long I had, he suggested midday and I suspect he probably had a Friday lunch with colleagues planned! But he was very kind and patient and it had turned 12.25 by the time I left - Â£499 lighter - with my newly purchased Bluebird, which is the new love of my life!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CWâ€™s and it was left that I would email Declan for another viewing once the all-black Typhoon is available. He also kindly wrote out an amended wish list for my next visit, which is actually longer than my original! But Iâ€™m pretty certain about what Iâ€™m going back for.
Generally, I have found this forum to be an absolute treasure trove of information, not only by learning more about the different types of collectors there are, but as a source of knowledge about everything watches. I now have on my wish list, watches from companies across the globe, that I had never previously heard of. Iâ€™m also beginning to realise, that Iâ€™m not so much of a collector, but rather, I see myself as an â€˜acquirerâ€™, as I canâ€™t imagine ever â€˜flippingâ€™ anything I buy, well thatâ€™s what I think at the moment in any case!
Iâ€™ve also learnt that I have to be true to myself and go for what I want, for the reasons I want them, which will, being honest, be based mainly on design and of course, price - again that's as things stand! The â€˜authenticityâ€™ of a company as a watch producer is not an issue, nor is whether they are seen as prestigious or not. For example, Iâ€™m aware that CW has it â€˜naysayersâ€™, and that many of their designs are interpretations of the classics, which are oft-copied in any case, but they are great value for money and many are, to me, fabulous to look at. It will be interesting to see how they develop in future?
Photos of my Bluebird to follow.