British watch brand Christopher Ward presents C900 Single Pusher Chronograph, a new watch model equipped with the rare complication and bespoke movement. This automatic chronograph can be started, stopped and reset with a single ‘pusher’, or button. This timepiece costs £2,450 and available to pre-order from the end of August for mid-October availability.
The timeless and understated dial of the C900, with its continuous seconds sub-dial and 30-minute totaliser, was designed by Christopher Ward in Britain, but it is the extensively developed and adapted world renowned Unitas 6497 calibre. Watchmaker, Johannes Jahnke, based in Christopher Ward’s Swiss atelier, has taken the base movement and turned it into something magnificent.
Right from the start, Jahnke’s aim was to create a calibre which would allow customers to see how every part of the watch functioned, through a wide exhibition back. The first step in achieving his vision was to ensure that the main plate and all the connections fitted the base module like a glove. Jahnke then set about introducing a sliding gear and reworking the bridges, the winding mechanism and the centre and second wheels, as well as the swan-neck adjustment system.
To make so many major mechanical and aesthetic improvements required a mastery of traditional watchmaking skills – which have sadly become increasingly rare. Even among many of the leading luxury watch brands, mass-produced movements have become the accepted standard.
To help him create the new Single Pusher, Jahnke approached Jean Fillon who has worked with chronograph movements ever since the 1940s.
For anyone interested in how a purely mechanical device can measure fractions of a second while also keeping time accurately for months on end, the reverse of the C900 provides one of the finest views in the watch world. The C900’s exhibition back reveals a masterpiece of clarity and simplicity. Jahnke’s JJO2 calibre is supremely elegant, clean and, above all, ‘understandable’. It is even possible to see how the sliding gear, clutch and brake allows the chronograph to be controlled by a single pusher, set within the crown.
It is extremely rare for even the most expensive watches to be put together by just one man but that is exactly how each of the 250 limited edition C900s are being assembled – either by Jahnke or his assistant, Frank Stelzer. More than 100 separate jobs and many more parts go into making every watch, and just fitting the hairspring can take 40 minutes – making the price of the C900 all the more remarkable.
Aside from the movement, a vast amount of thought, ingenuity and skill has gone into creating other parts of the C900. For example, the bespoke crown has been designed from scratch in order to overcome the challenge of incorporating the central axis as well as four ‘O’ rings, which allow the pusher to be depressed while still ensuring the watch remains waterproof.