If In Doubt, Flat Out: Christopher Ward's Two New Motorsport Inspired Watches
Christopher Ward has released two new limited edition watches inspired by two of the greatest cars ever made. Or so they tell me.
Sometimes I feel very much like an outsider in the watch community as I have absolutely no interest in cars. Much to his disappointment, my dad's passion for all things motor was not passed down despite his best efforts and at the age of 25 I've only just started learning how to drive. When my wife bought her car, I was able to offer valuable insights like "These cupholders are nice" and "The panoramic sun roof will be nice for the Summer".
I can distinctly remember to my dad taking me to a vintage hill climb when I was a boy and despite my dad insisting on the level of skill and engineering required, I was thoroughly bored and would rather not have been standing around in a muddy forest somewhere in the English countryside. Two years ago I won two tickets to the Festival of Speed at Goodwood and brought my dad along; both as a birthday gift for him and an apology for all those times I glazed over as he talked about cars. It took me till about lunchtime before I had my fill of engines and time trials. I would have wandered off to read a book under the shade but I had foolishly left it in the car.
So when Christopher Ward told me that their two new limited editions, the C9 DB4 '1 VEV' and the C9 D-Type, were inspired by two of the most beautiful cars ever made I just had to take their word for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blind. I can see that both of these cars are very attractive but they don't provoke the same wonder a Universal Genève Tri-Compax can.
The C9 DB4 '1 VEV' is a homage to the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, an exceptionally rare version of the GT which was modified by Italian design house and coachmaker, Zagato. Only 19 of these cars were ever manufactured and the C9 DB4 is limited to the same number; each watch having an aluminum piece of the body panel from a 1 VEV that was raced in 1961 by Ray Salvadori.
The watch has a matt-black dial with the hour marker design inspired by the digits on the DB4's speedometer. 'Hourless' dials are not usually a preference of mine but the combination of the styled markers, hands and fuel gauge power reserve does tie the theme together. The motoring motifs continue down to the movement as a piece of aluminum from a DB4 is housed inside, cut to resemble the car's iconic steering wheel. The rotor has been colored to the same shade of green as the iconic car. The green doesn't really do it for me but I'm willing to give the rotor the benefit of the doubt as I learnt with the Nomos Metro 38 Datum that press photos don't always represent the true color of a watch.
The C9 DBV4 '1 VEV' and C9 D-Type are $5,330 & $3,990 and are currently available for pre-order for a mid-October release.
The second release is the C9 D-Type which is inspired by the winning car of the 1955 Le Mans race, the Jaguar D-Type. Le Mans is an endurance race lasting twenty four hours that tests both the driver's ability and endurance and the reliability and efficiency of the cars. 1955 is a particularly important year in Le Mans history as it marks the greatest tragedy in the history of motorsport, where an accident left 84 spectators and one driver dead with over 120 injured. Looking at the photos of the traditional running start, it's clear to see in hindsight that having crowds that close to the track would eventually lead to tragedy. The aftermath of the accident led to increased safety measures being taken and indirectly led to the ending of the Mexican endurance race, the Carrera Panamericana, which had seen seventy seven drivers killed in just the four years it ran. If the name is familiar, it is because it inspired one of the greatest chronographs ever made, the Heuer Carrera.
The C9 D-Type is limited to fifty five pieces in homage to the year of British driver Mark Hawthorn's win at Le Mans. The C9 D-Type has a dial design inspired by its namesakes speedometer with the number 12 designed like a cars race number (Hawthorn's number was infact 6 but for the sake of design and balance using 12 was better). The watch has a piece of an original production D-Type inside, this time shaped like the car's sterring wheel and spinner, which can be seen through the sapphire caseback.
Both watches have the same 43mm stainless steel case, 22mm lug width and are both fitted with an ETA Valgranges A07.161 automatic movement. The Valgranges line of ETA movements were released in 2009 in response to the industry trend of designing larger watches as the original ETA-Valjoux 7750s were becoming too small for modern watches. The A07.161 is 36.6mm and has a forty six hour power reserve at six o'clock which for both watches has been designed to look like a fuel gauge. The movement can feature a date complication however Christopher Ward chose, wisely I believe, to remove it in favor of focusing on the power reserve.
The connection between watches and cars is forever linked and I'm destined to feel a little bit left out of the fun. Despite the ever-increasing safety precautions, there is still an element of danger in motorsports that will continue to attract both enthusiasts and watch brands to it. However when I see Jason Heaton driving around in a Shelby Cobra, the slight pang of envy I feel is quickly replaced by the realisation that I'd much rather be sat in the stands reading a good book.