In this interview, Christopher Ward Senior Designer Adrian Buchmann explains the process behind designing the new C1 Grand Malvern Power Reserve, and what the watch means for the future of the brand
Hi Adrian, when did you begin work on the C1 Grand Malvern?
In June 2015, as soon as I arrived at Christopher Ward! I started with the case that would be used on the C1 Grand Malvern.
A case can establish a tonality for a watch; like the first note in a song that tells you where to start. This case has a lot of soft lines, it’s very smooth. You then have to try and reflect that on the dial – not the other way round.
What were your influences for the initial case design?
We actually started with things we didn’t want. We didn’t want it to look too Swiss, or too German; the aim was to make it feel English. I think that was influenced by the British landscape, and British manners and behaviours: British people tend to be quite smooth and very polite!
Moving onto the dial, was this something you spoke to Chris Ward and Mike France about?
The key with dial design is not to overthink it. You put a lot of possibilities on the table, and try and work out what you don’t like. We needed to keep a little continuity with the C9 Collection, saving the best elements but bringing new improvements, too. Aesthetically, we moved away from the roman numerals and towards sans-serif fonts. The indexes are also rounded and smooth, linking back to the case. Some of them are printed, rather than raised, to help with the light.
How did you go about accommodating the power reserve?
There were two ways we could play it: one was to make it very strong and visible, while the other was to make it subtle and understated so it wouldn’t overpower the graphic design of the dial. We chose the latter.
How many times did the first samples of the watch go back and forth?
We started the sampling process in November/December last year. First, we started with 39- and 42mm case sizes. They were either too small or big, so we decided to meet in the middle. That 40.5mm case is the sweet spot for dress watches, and didn’t interfere with the proportions too much.
What inspired the finishing on the dial?
I wanted to bring a little bit more depth into it. A painted white dial is very pure but can feel a little lacking; a piece of paper would provide the same sensation. That’s why we’ve gone for an ‘opalin’ finish. The name is derived from the opal stone and the way it plays with the light. Applied to watches, it gives life to the dial.
What was the process regarding the redesign of Calibre SH21?
For the first batch, we were limited in design alterations due to the nature of the manufacturing process. At that stage, [CW Technical Director] Johannes Jahnke told us what we couldn’t do; for example, the bridge had already been produced with holes. At the next meeting we decided we should produce our bridges without any holes to give us the opportunity to play with it the way we wanted. That meant we could now add curves.
And then there’s that beautiful finishing…
We knew the slightest scratch would be visible, so we had to find a finish that wasn’t Côtes de Genève. A little more special was Colimaçoné – a sunray finish on the movement that plays with the light. We then ran some tests adding the ‘twin flags’ brand pattern.
It seems such a lot of effort for something that’s rarely seen…
You know sometimes English suit jackets have that detailing on the lining? We wanted to add that to the movement. The case and dial are quite understated. I wanted to make the movement a bit funkier and inspired by those English suits by designers like Paul Smith.
The C1 is designed as dress watch, but is it more flexible than that?
I think you can wear it as part of a smart-casual outfit, all the way up to the most formal of clothes. At 40.5mm, it’ll suit most wrist sizes, so women can wear it too. Part of the briefing was that it had to fit under a shirt cuff, too – and we’ve achieved that.
What about the crystal?
It’s double-curved sapphire, so it keeps the same kind of quality we have currently in the top ranges. It’s going to be introduced into the remainder of our dress lines too.
Where do you see this new case design being used in future?
The whole C1 Collection will have the same case design, with different sizes based on the model: so the new C1 Moonphase and Worldtimer will be a bit larger. Early next year, the new C3 and C5 Malverns should be arriving. They’ll be inspired by the C1 aesthetic – the curve will be a little flatter on those watches, but there’ll still be a break halfway through the case – while staying at that affordable level.
What about motorsport and dive models?
The cases will be similar in look, throughout our ranges, but another detail is that we’re using larger numbers at 12 and 6 o’clock. This is already prominent on our C8 lines, and will be introduced in our motorsport watches. I also mentioned earlier that we have indexes that are printed, or recessed into the dial. We’re playing with older techniques on how to mark the hours. These are all little elements that are hopefully going to combine to create something that’s unique to CW.
And will you have a go at the C60 Trident?
Definitely! Maybe we’ll have a little surprise for you at the end of next year…
Discover more about the C1 Grand Malvern Power Reserve by clicking here.