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CW: What do you do and what has been your journey so far?
JF: I am a racing driver. I started karting in 2005 aged 11 and have been racing ever since. I started at Buckmore Park Kart Circuit in Chatham, Kent, and won their junior championship at my first attempt. It was the race director there who said I should move into club karting, which would mean investing in our own equipment! I karted successfully for a further 4 years at club and national level before moving into car racing at 16 in 2010; I was racing cars on track before I could drive on the road!

I finished as top rookie in the 2010 Ginetta Junior championship with two wins before moving into GT Racing, and then onto British GT where I won the British GT4 Championship in 2012, being unbeaten except for when we had a couple of mechanical issues. That led on to racing in the GT3 category for 2013 for JRM who build the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 race cars. That year was the first time I competed in a long distance race, at the Spa 24 Hours. I did the “graveyard shift” between 4am and 6am, racing in the dark, which was an amazing experience – there’s nothing like it! I raced in various championships over the next few years, mainly racing Aston Martins as part of their young driver programme, before racing a Ferrari 488 GTE in the European Le Mans Series in 2017, which I won.

The highlight of 2017, and what really kick started our push for the title, was winning at Monza. It was also my first race there so it was even sweeter. Winning in Italy in a Ferrari is such a fairy tale and we were up against a bunch of newer cars too so it was unexpected – we were very much the underdog. It was also the last race for the car as we would be getting a new Ferrari 488 GTE for the rest of the year.

Alongside all this, I am also a racing driver coach so I spend my time travelling to all sorts of circuits around the UK and Europe!

Racing driver and CW Challenger Jody Fannin

CW: What inspired you to take up racing?
JF: It all started through my Dad (who got his inspiration from his Dad!) as he has always been into motor racing, be it 2 or 4 wheels, so I grew up watching all types of motorsport from a very young age. He was into Le Mans/sports car racing, and after my first visit to the Le Mans 24 hour race aged 7, I was hooked. Formula 1 is obviously brilliant, but there’s something about the tactical and teamwork aspect of endurance racing that really drew me in. Becoming a racing driver was always my goal.

CW: After your win in The European Le Mans Series, what’s next?
JF: A season long programme for 2018 fell through at the last minute due to the project being postponed. So while I regroup I am going to get my Nurburgring Nordschleife racing licence and do some races there (it’s the longest permanent race track in the world at over 20km per lap!).

For my career as a whole, to become world champion is the ultimate goal; that would be in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) for my area of motorsport. To win the Le Mans 24 Hours would come pretty close though; it is the biggest race in the world (and is also part of the WEC). I have been to watch the race 15 times, and everything about it is just magic. Racing through the night is an amazing experience, and to race there would be a privilege.

CW: Are you ever afraid when racing?
JF: I think everyone gets nervous in one way or another before a big event, in my case a race, but once the race starts there’s no time to be nervous or worried; adrenaline takes over and you concentrate on the job in hand. I think if you allow yourself to be scared by anything when racing then you won’t ever be quick enough. You will never allow yourself to push to the limits if there’s something in the back of your head that’s telling you something bad could happen at any moment.

CW: What does a typical day look like for you?
JF: If I’m not at a track racing myself, I can usually be found at one coaching other drivers; I just can’t keep away! They can be long days, getting up very early in the morning to go to a track, or going up the night before as they’re usually at least a couple of hours from where I live (the perils of living in the South East!).

I work out 5/6 days a week in my gym at home (a wooden structure in the back garden) the stints in the car can be long, up to 2 or 3 hours at a time, it’s important to have good endurance.

CW: What made you enter Christopher Ward’s Need For Speed competition?
JF: I found out about the competition from a post on Twitter and thought I fitted the bill of what Christopher Ward were looking for. The values of Christopher Ward and their journey in the watch world resonated with me and my journey through Motorsport; taking a different approach to the mainstream and making it work. It is also a privilege to be associated with the CW brand, one that’s going from strength to strength.

CW: Which CW watch have you chosen and why?
JF: It obviously has to be from the motorsport range! I think the C7 Rapide Chronograph Quartz with white watch face has to be my favourite, not just because it’s got some red in it (my favourite colour) but the placement of the two dials inside the main face make it look a bit like a speedo from a car. And I’d have to go for the black leather strap too as the colours compliment the face.

C7 Rapide Chronograph Quartz – White Dial

CW: How do you hope the CW Challenger Programme will help you?
JF: Being able to get my public profile raised is a big draw. Having access to non-motorsport media will help immensely in getting my name out there, and people who would otherwise not know about me and what I do, suddenly become aware. In the media-centric world we live in nowadays, that would in turn help me become more attractive to sponsors, and help to further my career. It just so happens that Christopher Ward make awesome watches too!

CW: Describe your driving in three words?
JF: Smooth, precise, consistent.

CW: If you could race against a driver from any generation who would it be and why?
JF: I would like to race someone from a different era, maybe as far back as the 50s or 60s, just to see the different skillsets and if they could be applied to modern machinery, and vice versa. There’s no doubt that the techniques required to drive a modern car with lots of grip and sticky slick tyres is very different to back then. Maybe someone like Stirling Moss. It would be very interesting and educational I’m sure!

With Baselworld, the world’s largest watchmaking convention, over for another year, we spoke to CW senior designer Adrian Buchmann and product manager Jörg Bader Jnr. about their experiences of 2018’s event, as well as the shifting identity of the industry as a whole.

Does Christopher Ward appear at Baselworld?

AB: Christopher Ward has never exhibited at Baselworld. As we retail exclusively online via our own website, we don’t have a retailer network to court or inform, which is really the main purpose of the show for a lot of brands.

JJB: We’re always present as spectators though – it’s a good opportunity to meet with the press and see the latest new releases.

What were the most significant changes you noticed this year?

AB: The fair has shrunk – in both footprint and duration – and become more condensed, with brands that used to have huge exhibition stands choosing something more reasonable this year. I think the downsizing trend will likely continue, and it’ll be interesting if the big groups decide to renew their contracts with the fair for 2020.

JJB: From a watch design perspective, the fair proved that there are ongoing trends that aren’t going away; vintage remains the hottest thing with many brands’ new designs. Secondly, I’d say the transition back to smaller case sizes is very obvious as well. The sweet spot has moved from around the 43mm mark down to 40mm – even Hublot reduced the size on their Big Bang models. The open dial trend is still going strong, too.

Jean-Claude Biver, the chief executive of Tag Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith, said he would welcome smart watches at future Baselworlds. What does this mean for the mechanical watch industry?

AB: Smartwatches have been a fantastic tool to help promote mechanical watches. Brands like Apple have found a way to seduce younger generations into becoming interested in watches and timekeeping; essentially, being interested in what they wear on their wrist. In time, the curious ones in this generation will deepen their interest in watches and move into the mechanical watch arena. I think quartz watches will suffer most with the increase of hybrid smartwatches.

Senior designer Adrian Buchmann

Apart from your own models, which new launches impressed you most?

AB: Arnold and Son’s new worldtimer, for its three-dimensional dial and combination of traditional and modern design; the new slim tourbillon movement from Bulgari, purely for it’s technical challenge; and the open dial from Jaquet-Droz.

JJB: I’d have to add the new Speedmaster Apollo 8 from Omega, thanks to the unique lunar-style finishing on the dial and movement.

Some brands didn’t exhibit this year. Do you think this signifies anything?

AB: It signifies that the industry and the dynamic of retailing of watches is changing. Brick and mortar over the last year have been in decline (mono-brand and dealers), while online dealers and mono-brand e-boutiques have grown. This has resulted in brands looking to save huge exhibition costs and instead re-invest in online sales platforms and digital promotion.

JJB: I don’t think the Baselworld fair will ever totally disappear, but will probably morph into a new form more adapted to the reality of the market and today’s retail environment.

How long have you been in the mechanical watch industry? What changes have you noticed during that time?

AB: Christopher Ward created their first mechanical watch back in 2005, and have transitioned most of their collection from quartz to mechanical movements. The most striking thing we have noticed over the years is the consumer researching more and more, and becoming more knowledgeable about movements. The times when brands could say “Calibre XXX” instead of stating clearly the use of an ETA or Sellita movement is slowly becoming a thing of the past – the internet has led to higher transparency and standards from brands.

JJB: I agree with Adrian. Looking back to about 5 years ago [when ETA announced to cut down their movement supply] there was a surge of brands, including us, creating their own in-house movements in response. This trend has slowed down since, with a transition back to novelty-style watches typified by Baselworld’s displays this year.

Product manager Jörg Bader Jnr.

From a design perspective, which brands do you look to for inspiration?

AB: We look at every brand in the watch industry to see the trends and new watches coming through. But the inspiration for our watches comes mainly from other worlds, such as automotive design, British history, technology, nature…

JJB: That’s the beauty of the design process. You can draw inspiration from anywhere.

What is the appeal of mechanical watches in a digital world?

AB: I don’t think they’re incompatible. I see digital as an information tool, a vehicle to communicate our watches to the world. In this age of obsolescence, where everything moves quickly and not many things are built to last, watches still carry strong values such as quality; craftsmanship; timelessness.

JJB: The mechanical watch movement is still one of the pinnacles of human mechanical engineering.

What developments do you think you’ll see in the luxury watch industry over the next five years?

AB: I think the future of the market will primarily be centred around increased precision, higher performance, and anti-magnetic calibres that won’t need servicing. We can see that brands such as Parmigiani (their Genequand escapment), Zenith (ZO 342 caliber) and Greubel Forsey (mechanical nano) are working hard on them, and hopefully these new technologies will become available to a wider audience over the coming years.

JJB: As Adrian mentioned, the classical Swiss watch industry will master the existing base. Alongside that in the future, we’ll hopefully see fully integrated mechanical movements with a smart system that would let you control it from, say, your phone. On the commercial side, the industry moves more into a digital native world (think the success of Daniel Wellington through Instagram or various Kickstarter brands). This process started in the last 3 years, and will gain even a bigger importance in the future.

Finally, how would you summarise this year’s Baselworld in one sentence?

AB: Time in transition.

JJB: Open the old sample drawer = Novelty 2018.