Watchuseek Blog

Monday, July 11, 2011

Going vintage: Christopher Ward C8 Pilot Mark II Vintage

Christopher Ward is the small British watch brand that set out to stick a pin in the inflated retail prices of the major league Swiss made watch manufactures.

Founded in 2005, from the outset the mission was to make luxury watches affordable by slashing both margins and overheads.

The cost cutting is achieved by having no shops and no cash draining marketing campaigns. Then the savings are passed on to savvy punters who treasure quality without the staggering cost.

C8 Pilot Mark II Vintage

Christopher Ward’s latest offering is the new C8 Pilot Mark II Vintage, a contemporary take on the IWC B-Uhren watches used by pilots and navigators in World War II.

The design shares many of the characteristics of the watches commissioned by the Luftwaffe, and then the RAF, designed to be worn over thick flying suits. The watches had large faces to provide maximum visibility. In the cramped, cold and extremely noisy environment of a fighter plane’s cockpit, such a watch was a godsend.

Forum approved

The design of the Christopher Ward C8 Pilot Mark II Vintage owes much to the input of members of the independent Christopher Ward forum. Customers, fans and watch enthusiasts – particularly those that collect aviation watches – championed the retro design and asked for wider luminous hands so they were more clearly visible at night.

The beige coloured luminous paint on the hands and indexes is styled on the colour of many World War II uniforms – adding to the sense of nostalgia that the watch evokes.

As an additional authentic feature it even has a soft-iron anti-magnetic cage inside the outer case to protect the movement from interference which occasionally resulted in potentially fatal navigational and timekeeping errors for wartime pilots.

ETA 2824- 2 movement

The watch shares the same automatic movement – the ETA 2824-2 – as the C8 Pilot Mark I and its balance wheel can be seen on the reverse of the case through an exhibition window. The result is a watch that combines a contemporary specification with a design that captures a period in history when clarity, simplicity and accuracy were absolutely critical.

Kudos for Christopher Ward

So are the claims true? Can Christopher Ward really deliver top quality at a fraction of the price? What follows is genuine feedback from one customer upon receiving his watch:

“I am totally blown away by the quality of this watch. It feels rock solid…nice weight and heft to it…it just feels well built. I love IWC pilots watches and have tried on and lusted after several of them for the last year but they are way out of my price range… I honestly feel this watch looks and feels JUST as good as an IWC (I know…that’s a bold statement but I mean it) for a fraction of the price. Very clear and easy to read dial and the hands and face just look positively gorgeous.”

And the cost? Just US$615.

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