Christopher Ward C700 Grande Rapide Automatic Chronograph – ‘Hands On Watch Review’
Written by D Constant for The Watch Review Site
So we have had another delivery from our friends over at Christopher Ward London and this time it’s the C700 Grande Rapide Automatic Chronograph, first impressions do not disappoint in any way.
Before we tell you our thoughts, let’s see what the good people at CW say about their own watch
“We were driven by a desire for excellence in creating the C700 and we hope you are equally driven by a desire to own one of these wonderful watches.”
The Christopher Ward C700 Grande Rapide is, “quite simply, a magnificent example of the automatic chronograph genre”.
The Christopher Ward C700 Grande Rapide Chronograph Watch is one of the British watchmaker’s most ambitious timepieces yet, when talking styling. It is a more modern take on their traditional styles, this timepiece in terms of imagery is a step in a different direction to what Christopher Ward has previously designed.
With that in mind, I would like to point out we are seeing more and more of this innovation in design from Christopher Ward as with the C11 MSL Black Manta, which The Watch Review Site reviewed here. These new designs coming out from the CW studio are slightly away from the norm, where the C700 Grande Rapide stands out is in the materials used which we have never before seen on a Christopher Ward Watch, we see it highlighted by Chris Ward himself;
“Nothing about the watch is a compromise; every aspect of the design has been driven by the desire to create the ultimate motorsport watch. The C700 has been created for people who prefer to make the most of every second and observe their rivals in their rear-view mirror.”
So we have given you a little introduction to the C700, let us quickly say thank you to Christopher Ward London for sending us the C700 for this Hands On Review and we look forward to playing with many more CW London Watches in the future please…
Now to the reason we are here, and our thoughts after a couple of months with the Christopher Ward C700 Grande Rapide Automatic Chronograph. As with all CW watches, it was received in the usual exemplary packaging and watch box, with an extensive and easy to read user guide, and numbered proof of purchase, along with the CW cleaning cloth. You also get a lovely personal thank you for buying letter with some tips on watch care. Even with this being one of the more expensive watches in the CW range (you will see why later), the presentation and delivery are still above what you would expect from a watch at this price level.
One thing that is apparent, the Christopher Ward C700 Grande Rapide is totally inspired by Motorsport and Christopher Ward’s personal fascination with the sport, from the black carbon fibre dial to the interesting silicone rubber strap with a carbon weave effect, tyre impersonation at its best. That aside you cannot forget that even though this timepiece is British in design and styling, its internal workings and movement are all Swiss made and this is the reason why it is one of the higher priced items in the Chris Ward catalogue. Not just that it’s Swiss made as this is expected and a must for a CW watch and is part of the company ethos but the fact that the C700 is powered by the ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic movement.
A movement synonymous with some of the more expensive luxury brands out there, we have seen the ETA 7750 or variation of in the likes of the IWC Portuguese, Panerai Pam48, Omega Seamaster and a few Breitlings to name a few, so the C700 is in very good company. The C700 does use the elabore version of the ETA 7750 which many of the above have adapted or use chronomat or COSC version of the 7750 before using it in their watches, but the basic movement is an ETA7750.
The ETA Valjoux 7750 has a distinctive feel when worn on the wrist, a feeling you get very accustomed to and when you wear a watch which is not an automatic 7750 you feel a little lost. You can feel the mechanism working when you move your arm at the beginning and its a feeling that once you get used to it, is amazingly reassuring. For those that may be concerned by my comments don’t be its very common amongst watches with the ETA 7750 movement driving them and for me is a sign of quality and provides a sense of being. As for the movement it was first introduced in 1974 by Valjoux (who were subsequently taken over by ETA) and has been a staple for automatic chronographs since, it runs a t 28,800 bph and has 25 jewels, and provides a 3 counter chronograph.
So is the watch itself of sufficient standing to adorn such a movement? Let’s see…
When you first see the C700 Grande Rapide it strikes you as a great looking watch, its shiny Stainless Steel polished 42 mm case and carbon fibre dial set behind a sapphire crystal anti-reflective glass, look fabulous together, then add the black silicone rubber strap and you really do have a good looking timepiece. HULK agrees…
The dial is carbon fibre with a weave style effect, to off set this the dial is layered with satin finished metal and carbon to the 3 counters at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock with contrasting polished hands and hour markers which bring the dial to life. The hands and hour markers do have lumen applied, but it is limited and very small so no real low light illumination on the C700 Grande Rapide Automatic Chronograph. I’m not the only one that thinks this as per some comments received on the independent CW Forum
Malfozzy – “I have just received the c700 with metal bracelet today. It’s my third CW watch and can’t fault it except for a minor detail. The luminous hands, hour markers are useless. If they we painted black and then camouflaged it wouldn’t be any worse than it is now. Lovely watch though.”
We also have a day date function at 3 o’clock which is white with black typeface, which makes it visible and stand out from the dial, I may have wanted to see it with a white on black day date but that’s probably being picky. To further enhance its motor racing heritage you have a Tachymetric scale to allow the calculation of speed of a race car over a mile.
The counters on the Christopher Ward C700 are a 30 minute and 12 hour counter as well as a 60 second chronograph, the counters are obviously further inspired by motor sports with their circular Guilloche pattern at its heart and have a rev counter feel. The seconds are counted down via the 9 o’clock counter and its a smooth rotational movement courtesy of the ETA 7750. The chronograph function consists of hours at 6 o’clock, minutes at 12 o’clock and a stop second controlled by the upper and lower push in crowns.
As we are talking crowns the main crown is a screw in crown at 3 o’clock, and has the CW logo embedded on it, and it works as expected, what I will point out is that I found the push buttons for the chronograph / stopwatch use are a little clunky for want of a better description, they are a little loose and when you push them they seem to click and judder a little. I have been assured that with use this should subside by members of the Christopher Ward forum… we will see? ooh I just thought we would get in the Hero and Villains thing with some of the photographs, hope you like them.
The case is 42mm in diameter and made of surgical grade stainless steel (if the fact that its surgical grade matters) and is highly polished which offsets the watch very well, onto the back of the case and we have an exhibition case-back with sapphire crystal which gives you a lovely view of that ETA 7750 movement, which is engraved with Christopher Ward, even if you don’t take it off to show others, you can rest assured that every time you remove the C700 you will glimpse at the mechanism and have wry little smile.
On the stainless steel surround of the case back you have the serial number engraved along with the words Swiss Made in case you were in any doubt it was actually Swiss made. As with previous reviews please note my wrist is a meagre 6 3/4 inches, I say meagre as everyone comments on how small it is but even though it is this 42mm watch still fits well and look good, even if i do say so myself, the case doesn’t look or feel 42mm.
Kip of Christopher ward Forum says “At 42mm this is a perfect and extremely comfortable size. The brightly polished bezel allows it to look a bit smaller and gives the watch a bit of a dressy look.”
We have yet to mention the strap and buckle on the C700, the version we have with us we had the privileged of the Black silicone rubber strap and it is an exquisite strap, it fits well and wears wonderfully with the contrasting case, it also highlights the watches motor racing concept and theme wonderfully, It was suggested that the watch is better on the stainless steel bracelet so as we were taken aback by the C700 Grande Rapide and its movement we decided to keep the watch and purchased it from Christopher Ward but also took advantage and ordered a stainless steel bracelet, which has been received. We have yet to install it on the C700 as we are enjoying it the way it is, rubber and all. The buckle is a standard CW buckle and is a mixture of satin and polished stainless steel, it is solid and strong so no fear of snapping it as I have on other watches previously…. Naughty Dino
For clarity the Christopher Ward C700 Grande Rapide comes in three models, the only differnce between them is the strap or bracelet combination. These models are
C700SKSI – Silicone Rubber Strap which mirrors the dial with its polished chequered flag design
C700SKS – Steel Bracelet
C700SKK – Black Leather
Another comment from a Forum member highlighting the thoughts on strap choice here
RockyRacoon – “I’ve had my C700 since February and I have worn it it pretty much daily. I think it looks great on stainless steel and leather and feels nice and weighty on the wrist – not too bold on my small wrists. If anything, the stainless steel strap suits a smaller wrist better, because the leather doesn’t flex very much at the point where it meets the lugs. But for me it is acceptable. Yes, the pushers are a little bit clunky, although I’ve no idea if that is normal for an automatic chrono. To be honest, I’m fine with it because it actually feels like I’m interacting with a piece of machinery”
One thing that older Christopher Ward watches fell down on was build quality, well there is no such downside to the C700 as with recent Chris Ward releases the build quality of the watches has been stepped up and is exceptional, the watch feels weighty and sturdy, with an air of quality to its manufacture and composition.
The penultimate paragraph must of given it away a little. Yes, We loved the CW C700 Grande Rapide so much I bought it for myself and an additional bracelet too for added measure and one of the factors that led to this purchase was the price, a similar timepiece with similar movement could cost you anything up to £3,000.00 from some of the other mainstream luxury watchmakers, but even though this is one of the Christopher Ward’s highest priced models the C700′s are still only priced at £799.00 for the strap versions and £860.00 for the Steel bracelet version, for our US counterparts that’s $1,165.00 and $1,235.00 and are available directly from Christopher Ward via their website Christopher Ward London Limited
For good measure here is a few snippets from a little review by Kip at the CWForum about the C700
“If you like the carbon fiber dial as, I do, there is a WOW factor when you open the box. When not viewed in a macro setting, the pattern of the dial tends to be subtle in that it shows just the right amount of pattern in the background. The silver accents on the seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock give this a bit of an off balance look but it also tends to offset the white day/date wheel at 3. ”
“This watch really screams bracelet. I have one on order and will be trying that as soon as they arrive. I believe that this will really make this watch jump up and shout “look at me”! This might even look good in a mesh bracelet.”
At this point we would like to thank the members of the Christopher Ward Forum - http://www.christopherwardforum.com/ for their input into this review and also the kind welcoming we received. As with tradition of The Watch Review Sites’ ‘Hands On Reviews’ we have a little gallery for you after the technical details below.
Christopher Ward C700 Grand Rapide Automatic Chronograph – Technical Data
Diameter: 42mm, Height/Thickness: 13.9mm,
Weight: 130g (Silicon rubber & Black Leather strap models) 209g (Steel bracelet model)
Case: 316L Stainless steel
Calibre: Eta Valjoux 7750
Vibrations: 28,800 per hour
25 Jewel Swiss automatic chronograph, Etachron regulator system
3 counter multi-function chronograph (hours, minutes and stop second)
Internal Tachymeter, Day/Date Calendar
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Carbon Fibre Dial
SuperLuminova SLC1 Luminous indices and hands
Hand-polished surgical grade stainless steel case
Water resistant to 100m (10 atm)
Strap: Silicon Rubber with adjustable tongue buckle, Black Leather with adjustable quick release butterfly clasp or Steel with adjustable quick release butterfly clasp.