While wandering around Windup NYC this year I met up with a listener who mentioned something that caught me off guard. “Hey man, Christopher Ward has a chiming watch—the guy is hiding it in his pocket over at their table.” Shortly after my 15-year-old brain made it past a few naughty jokes (about something chiming in a dude’s pocket), I kinda lost track of the whole thing. This is probably because the possibility of a Christopher Ward chiming watch seemed so absurd, and I had limited time to cover serious ground at the show. But now we have it. It’s a reality. And as a site that has covered Christopher Ward a fair bit, it’s an exciting release that people have already scooped up. It’s the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto.
We’ve long pitched Christopher Ward as one of the best brands to turn to if you’re looking for budget-conscious pricing and cool sport watches. It’s a space Christopher Ward still thrives in, so why not do something a little crazy? Something that’ll really get people talking. It’s ironic, since Christopher Ward has already released stuff like mono-pusher chronos and jumping hour watches anyway. But you can’t ignore this. The Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto utilizes a familiar movement the brand has used before—the JJ01 Jump Hour—that has been modified with the addition of over 60 new parts to build in the chiming feature. The result is a movement Christopher Ward calls the FS01, which is technically a sonnerie au passage, which chimes at the top of each hour with a single hammer.
What I love about this watch is that it looks nothing like anything Christopher Ward has done before. It has a kind of unbranded, concept/prototype look to it, which makes you feel as if you’re looking at an MB&F or Ulysse Nardin. That said, Christopher Ward seems to have done a great job at creating a big, beautiful open dial that makes room for the chiming mechanism that marks the top of each hour with a single hammer strike actuated by a snail cam. The feature almost feels more useful than a minute repeater. I often lose track of time while being heads-down on work, so a reminder that hours are passing by feels useful in that case. The mechanism can be turned on or off by a pusher at 4 o’clock.
Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto Specs
- Case Diameter: 41mm
- Case Thickness: 13.25mm
- Lug-to-Lug: 48mm
- Case Material: Titanium
- Water Resistance: 30m
- Movement: Christopher Ward FS01 (Selitta SW200 + chiming module)
- Crystal: Domed sapphire
- Bracelet/Strap: Full titanium or leather strap
- Price: Starting at $3,595, limited to 300 pieces
I think Christopher Ward is a brand that has paid its dues—almost like a band that has released enough killer records to where you can’t get mad at them for trying experimental stuff. Also, the price point is out of this world. And while it isn’t cheap, plenty of folks were into it and now the watch is totally sold out. If this sets the tone for a new era of Christopher Ward, I think even more enthusiasts will start paying attention to a brand that continues to grow in interesting ways.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.