If I were to say that aviation-inspired watches have become ubiquitous to a fault, I’d wager that few would raise their voices in protest. Though having options is generally not a bad thing, as someone who spends most of his day thinking about and reviewing watches, I find it hard these days to get excited when my inbox gets hit with a press release announcing a new pilot/aviation watch—even more so when there are brands like Sinn and Stowa doing majorly cool things with the genre. So when I was made aware of the new C8 Power Reserve Chronometer from Christopher Ward, I was pleasantly surprised.
The C8 collection is the brand’s line of aviation watches loosely rooted in the design of Spitfire cockpit clocks. Earlier C8 models have included the Flyer Quartz/Automatic and the more recent UTC Worldtimer, but the latest Power Reserve Chronometer is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the series. On the surface, the concept is certainly familiar, but there are a lot of intriguing elements being brought together in one watch, and at $2,060 it’s a package that few can rival.
The C8 Power Reserve Chronometer comes in a 44mm stainless steel case featuring a sandblasted DLC finish. At four is an oversized onion crown with a turbine motif, and capping off both ends are sapphire crystals.
As previously mentioned, the dial references Spitfire cockpit clocks, specifically the Smith’s MK II A clock. Note the two-tone colorations of the hands, the use of “old radium” lume, and the red accents. But despite that historical influence, the overall execution of the C8 Power Reserve Chronometer feels totally modern, giving the piece a contemporary, sports watch vibe.
The sandwich dial features a top layer that is matte black over a layer of old radium Super-LumiNova. There are raised indexes at every quarter-hour and a prominent raised 12. At six there is a large sub-seconds counter, and at nine there’s a sub-dial with a power reserve indicator—a first for a watch using Christopher Ward’s SH21 caliber. An altimeter style date window at three, often considered a contentious design choice, helps to balance the sub-dial at nine. The altimeter window is also somewhat unique in that the date disc has laser cut numbers, with lume under the disc at three so that only the correct date is highlighted. Despite Christopher Ward announcing that all future watches would feature the left-justified logo at nine, the logo here is centered right below 12, which is a far more sensible approach.
Powering the watch is a manual variant of the COSC-certified SH21 5-day caliber. Traditionally, the SH21 features a large plate with a hand-sanded finish and cutouts highlighting the two large barrels. It’s a very cool looking movement, albeit a bit austere. Here, Christopher Ward went with a different approach. Turning the watch over, you’ll immediately notice the new, almost organic-looking blacked-out bridge that frames the movement and hammers home the modern, aeronautical aesthetic of the C8 line. To further that theme, the twin barrels are engraved to mimic the look of turbines. Christopher Ward is certainly taking a more daring approach here, one that speaks to luxury watches and helps elevate this piece to a position beyond its MSRP.
For more information, please visit: Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer