Christopher Ward C70

Christopher Ward has released several new models in their successful C70 line of racing watches. These bright, bold Swiss chronographs have long been personal favorites of mine, and I am delighted to see the range grow; not only because they are an excellent value and look particularly cool, but because a C70 inspired my watch hobby.
Christopher Ward C70-3227 GT
You see, waaaaay back in 2009, I was not yet The Time Bum. I was just a regular bum who kind of liked watches. I had a few in my meager collection, including one or two rather nice ones, but I really knew nothing. One evening I was flipping through a classic car magazine and saw a feature on the Christopher Ward C70IT Corse Rosso. It was racy. It was red. It stopped me in my tracks. When my wife saw my reaction, she promptly ordered it for my birthday. Once I had the watch in hand, I needed to know more about this British company. After I had poured over their site, I wondered what other small watchmakers were out there, which led me to the online watch enthusiast forums and blogs... You get the idea.

That C70 is still high in my rotation. Indeed, sharp-eyed readers may have already noticed it lurking in my profile picture. It is the watch that introduced me to quality affordable watches in general and independent watchmakers in particular.
CW C70 D-Type Limited Edition
My C70IT is out of production, but the new crop of C70s is every bit as gorgeous. Like all Christopher Ward watches, they are Swiss made and carry the 60/60 guarantee (60-day return, 60-month movement warranty). Two quartz movements are offered: the 22 jewel ETA 251.272, and the 27 jewel COSC certified ETA 251.233. Both are split-time capable, triple register chronographs with 30 minute, 1/10th second, and small seconds sub-dials. The COSC models meet the exacting standards of accuracy set by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, and also have the bonus of a fourth hand that acts as a central minutes timer
CW C70 British Racing Green Limited Edition
The specifications are solid, but as I mentioned above, it is their beauty that draws you in. Designing a watch as an homage to a non-watch related object can be a tricky proposition. Racing cars are a rich source of inspiration, and many have tried to evoke their form and color with decidedly mixed results. It is all too easy to go too far and create a caricature, or not go far enough so the racing elements look like tacked-on afterthoughts. Christopher Ward got it right. 

All are housed in a polished stainless steel case, 42mm wide with a screw down crown and a case back bearing a theme-appropriate decoration. The crown and chronograph buttons are smooth piston shapes. Even without a textured edge, the crown is easy to operate. The watch is just under 11mm thick to the top of the slightly domed sapphire crystal. It wears true to size and is an easy fit under a shirt cuff. Water resistance is a useful 100 meters, ideal for daily wear. 
CW C70 Italian GP Limited Edition
Both COSC and standard models share the same layout. They have an outer 60-second bezel, an inner tachymeter bezel for those crucial miles per hour calculations, a multi-layered dial with a textured center, a two-row bi-color index, and a date porthole at 4 o'clock. The 12, 3, and 9 (or just 12 depending on model) are oversized roundels like vintage "meatball" racing numbers. The dial is undeniably busy, but legible and great fun.

Racers are known for bright colors and bold liveries, and the C70s follow suit, drawing inspiration from the storied cars and teams in motorsports history. The Vanwall VW4, British GP 1926, and British Bracing Green are, of course, proper shades of green. The Belgian GP models wear the country's bright yellow. The French GP 1906 watch is blue, the Italian GP models are blood red. With the exception of the comparatively sedate green and white British Racing Green model, the watches have black sub dials and contrasting color hands. They are absolutely stunning.
CW C70 British Racing Green Limited Edition on perforated leather
Band choices vary by model and include natural rubber, leather, and a stainless steel bracelet with push-button release. My old C70 wears a perforated leather rally strap on a signed deployant clasp and I would choose it again without a second thought. The perforations in the black top layer reveal a dash of color that coordinates with the dial. It is a sporty touch that perfectly complements the watch. Regular readers know I am a shameless strap swapper, but I have kept the "stock" strap on my C70 for 6 years, and I see no reason to change it now. 

Christopher Ward offers 8 distinct models and 22 variants of C70. The least expensive are the British Racing Green ETA 251.272 watches the and D-Type Limited Edition models, which range from $625-760. Next are the COSC Grand Prix commemorative Chronometers for $895. 

CW C70 D-Type Limited Edition dial detail
The D-Type watches in particular bear closer scrutiny. They pay homage to the famed Jaguars of Scotland's Ecurie Ecosse team and wear that team's signature blue. The cases are engraved with the image of a Jaguar knock-off wheel hub and wear a "376 SG" number plate of the left side - the registration number of the car that won at LeMans in 1957. The dial on this model is also distinct from the rest of the range as the sub dials mimic the race car's dashboard instruments. They are $675 on rubber, $750 on steel or leather.

Finally, if you really want something special, have a look at the C70-3227GT. It carries a disc cut from the exterior paneling of a Ferrari 250 GTO, chassis number 3227, the seventh GTO produced. The $2,960 price tag may seem a tad steep, but when you consider a 250 GTO sold for a record $52M at auction, it's really a bargain. Ok, maybe "bargain" is a stretch, but you can tell yourself that as you click the "Buy it Now" button.

As for me, I am still perfectly happy with my old C70IT. It may not have any Ferrari in it, but it is a damn fine watch, and it is good to know the family line still thrives.

Pro: Quality components and sharp execution.
Con: Race car looks may not be for everyone...
Sum: ...but they sure work for me. The Time Bum approves.

CW C70-3227GT case back with Ferrari GTO artifact


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