Co-branded watches have always struck me as odd (I’ll take my Omega Seamaster without a 007 counterbalance, thank you). But in this case, the partnership between Morgan Motor Company and Christopher Ward is subtle enough that it might appeal even to those of us who don’t own a Morgan three-wheeler. And wouldn’t you know, Christopher Ward thought so too. Once exclusive to Morgan owners, these high-end Morgan-branded watches are now available to the public in three configurations: small second, date/center second, and power reserve/small second.
The collection, designed by Christopher Ward’s Senior Designer Adrian Buchmann in collaboration with Morgan’s Chief Designer Jonathan Wells, launched in March 2017 to mark the start of a five-year partnership between the two iconic British brands. At the heart of each timepiece is a custom-made version of Christopher Ward’s renowned in-house movement, Calibre SH21, hand-built by watchmakers at their atelier in Biel, Switzerland.
The SH21 is no joke, and the Morgan touch on these watches strikes me as more thoughtful than gimmicky. At heart, these are special edition C1 Grand Malverns, with details unique to this line up.
The most obvious change from the classic C1 Grand Malvern is the double-wing Morgan logo applied just south of 12:00. That, plus “Christopher Ward” at mid-dial makes the face a bit logo heavy. But since one is text and the other an emblem, it’s not overwhelming. All three also wear skeletonized hands similar (if not identical) to those found on the C7 Rapide Motorsports Collection—a fiting crossover.
The dials, too, speak with a motoring vocabulary. The C1 Morgan 3 Wheeler Chronometer (£1,695) looks every bit like a speedometer plucked from its namesake. The C1 Morgan Aero 8 Chronometer (£2,250) is the unreformed boy racer, straight from pit row. Only the C1 Morgan Classic Chronometer (£1,695) looks much like its dressier brethren in the standard C1 Grand Malvern line—but even there the C7-like hands give it a sportier touch. Whatever the dial configuration, they all use the fantastic C1 Grand Malvern case, with swooping lines and great 40.5 mm x ~11.5 mm proportions.
On the movement side, each gets a different bridge configuration and decoration that look like something out of a race car’s engine bay. Functionally, the handwound version of the SH21 is the same as the C1 Grand Malvern Small Second, but these have a less elegant look befitting their more casual, motorcar-inspired style.
I’d probably be more excited about these more if they weren’t co-branded, but the customization here is tasteful and matches the motoring heritage of the Morgan brand. The only heavy-handed touch is the double-logo’d dial, yet it doesn’t ruin the day. Maybe I need to rethink my prejudice against co-branded watches. christopherward.com