The new Christopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern Small Second is a bridge between two worlds—a modern design with a very traditional layout. A central seconds hand is so common that it is easy to forget that it was once an innovation. Now, it’s the rare watch that counts the seconds on a subsidiary dial. The C1 Grand Malvern Small Second is one of those, but it takes the traditional small second setup in more modern direction.
The most noticeable design novelty is a much larger subsidiary dial than you typically find on a watch of this configuration. It perches on the 5:00 and 7:00 hour markers, engulfs the 6:00 hour marker, and stops just shy of the cannon pinon. This is not a small “small second” dial. Those proportions might throw some people off, but the untraditional scale fits with the stark modernity of the rest of the watch.
A sans serif 12 counterbalances the big sub dial and cements the modern aesthetic. The 12:00 marker, like the rest of the markers, is printed in a dark grey font—ghostly but legible on the bright white dial. Legibility is helped further by the large blued hands, perfectly proportioned to graze the edge of their respective registers (although in the case of the minute hand, we are left to our imaginations since only the hours are marked). A gently domed sapphire crystal mimics the gently domed opalin dial.
The hands ride on a pair of shafts that look oddly mismatched. The main hands sit on a rather large cannon pinion with a dished center. The seconds hand pierces a more traditional steel cap attached to the fourth wheel below. It is hard for me to pick a favorite between the two because they both have a refined look. But I do wish someone had better matched the two together.
The case is the classic Grand Malvern we’ve come to know and love: swooping, slimming, dynamic, and elegant. The case houses a manually wound version of the SH21 chronometer, which saves 1.15mm over the automatic found in the Power Reserve and the Date Grand Malvern models. In practice, the watch doesn’t wear or look noticeably thinner than the other models, probably because the Grand Malvern case hides its height between its brushed lugs and polished undercarriage.
Those lugs carry one of Christopher Ward’s excellent Bader deployant-equipped Cordovan leather straps or a mesh bracelet. I’m a big fan of the Bader. I’ve gushed about this strap every time I’ve seen it on a review model, and I recently picked up a couple to swap into my personal rotation. It ticks all the boxes for me: quick release springbars, deployant clasp with the tail tucked under (so no need for keepers), and a secure clasp that also forms the post for adjusting the size. I want one in every color, for every dress watch in my collection. The only downside is they got the name wrong; it’s “deployant”—an anglicization of “boucle déployante” (folding buckle)—not “deployment.” Maybe it’s a British thing.
I also recently got a chance to try out Christopher Ward’s mesh bracelet on a different CW model and I found it comfortable, though a bit tight—make sure to measure your wrist and order the right length.
Last but not least, let’s have a peak through the big sapphire crystal exhibition case back at the manual SH21 movement. This movement is a wonderful in-house achievement for Christopher Ward and it looks and performs on par with its automatic brother. In manual garb, the SH21 looks remarkably similar to the similarly named MeisterSinger MSH02; I suspect some shared lineage here, despite that both brands claim their version is “in-house.” The bridge is cut away atop both the big barrels that power the watch for 5 days. Having such a generous power reserve is especially convenient in a manually wound watch. When the workweek is done and you have to wind the mainspring, you have a willing partner in the big knurled crown; it is a marked improvement over CW’s older crowns and up to the task of filling this big tank.
This is a fairly priced, well-made watch with an in-house movement and modern good looks. At 40.5 mm x 11.65 mm it’s sized right for a modern dress watch. I’d prefer something at or below 38 mm, but I know I’m an anachronism. Even at 40.5 mm, I found this very wearable on my 7” wrist and an elegant choice for the office and beyond. christopherward.com
Christopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern Small Second
- Price: $1,540USD (leather); $1,575USD (steel mesh)
- Who’s it for? Retro modernists.
- Would I wear it? Yes, it’s got classic style without looking dated.
- What I’d change? Match the end detail of the hour/minute and second shafts.
- Standout feature? Big small second sub dial.
Tech Specs from Christopher Ward
- Case Material: 316L Stainless steel
- Case Dimensions: 40.5 mm x 11.65 mm
- Lug Width: 20 mm
- Movement: SH21 hand-wound chronometer
- Crystal: Sapphire, top and bottom
- Strap: Italian Shell Cordovan strap with Bader deployant; or steel mesh bracelet with butterfly deployant clasp