When Christopher Ward first announced the C9 5-Day SS Chronometer (SS for small seconds), I was immediately very excited. It took their awesome in-house 5-day chronometer movement, the SH21, modified it to be hand wound and feature small seconds at 6, put it in a modestly sized case, and styled it in the classic aesthetic of Marine Chronometers. In doing so, it combined a bunch of things I really liked into a very aesthetically pleasing package. To make things even more appealing, they gave it a very compelling price point of $1,780. Not cheap, but a solid value for what the replica watch offers. After all, no one else is offering anything close to a 5-day COSC movement at this price.
The replica watch is also was a bit of an interesting departure for the brand. While they’ve had the C9 line going for some time, the Marine Chronometer aesthetic is a change, but a very welcome one that makes a lot of sense for the brand. Other C9 replica watches are almost Art Deco in styling, but this replica watch speaks to a British heritage dating to John Harrison, who invented the Marine Chronometer in the first place. Thus, it sort of celebrates their own achievement with the SH21 as a milestone for the brand. No matter how you see it, it’s a very nice time piece, so lets take a closer look.
The C9 5-day SS Chronometer features the same case design as other replica watches in the C9x line. This is actually the 5th one we’ve reviewed, but it’s the first time we’ve seen the 40mm version. The previous models we discussed had a hefty 43mm case. While still very handsome, it simply was too large for some people, and kept the replica watches from being svelte dress pieces. While 40 x 48 x 12.5mm is not exactly svelte either, it’s a much more subdued and comfortable size. More over, it made me appreciate the lines and finishing of the case more.
The design is very attractive. It’s masculine but elegant, with broad lugs and sharp lines. The gentle curve of the lugs softens them just enough to prevent any harshness as they transition to the slab sides. The rounded bezel and lug top surfaces are mirror polished, while the case side has satin brushing. The quality of the brushing is very good, with enough grain to have texture, but still a clean look overall. The edges where the lugs transition to the sides are all precise and clear, exactly what you want to see.
Off of three is a 7 x 3.5mm crown with a cylinder shape. It matches the case well being equally simple but well executed. It features coining along its edge and a CW logo on the end. Since this is a manual wound replica watch you’re going to be using the crown a lot. Luckily the design feels good between your fingers and is easy to grasp.
Flipping the replica watch over, you have a massive display window showing off the equally massive SH21 movement. I’ll talk more about it later, but it’s very enjoyable to get to see it here, especially as the manual wound version has no rotor blocking the view. Around the edge of the window you have a few replica watch details. The one to note is the “COSC Certified Chronometer” indicating that this replica watch has indeed been certified.
The dial of the C9 5-day SS is clean and classical, drawing from the Marine Chronometer style. Simply put, if you like that style, you’re going to love this dial, if not, you might want to look away. C Ward played it very true to the concept here, keeping things traditional and not adding much in the way of twists. For me, that works, for others, it might be too old-school.
The dial surface is pure, matte white with perhaps the slightest egg shell texture. On it, you have an hour index of large black Roman numerals, surrounded by a rail-road type minute index. That’s basically it for the main dial, making all of the little details count. Details like the typeface of the numerals, which is thin and graceful, yet highly legible. And the slight increase in line width on the minute index every 5 minutes… just enough to make them stand out more, but not too bold either.
At 6 you have a nicely proportioned sub-second dial; a necessity on a Marine Chronometer. It’s slightly depressed into the dial and features a very simple index of black lines which are longer at intervals of 5. It breaks up the dial well, but doesn’t distract either. At 3 is a date window, which does break up the hour index. The date is displayed in a serif typeface in black on a white background. While it does break the symmetry of the dial, and create a bit of hole, the positioning lines up well with the Roman numerals, thus integrating better with the dial. At first, the window annoyed me a bit, but I got use to it after wearing the replica watch for a bit. That said, I would love to see a no-date option offered as well.
The hands C Ward went with were a great choice. Rather than the Breguet hands often found on dials this style, they chose thin leaf hands in blue steel for the hours and minutes. Perhaps a bit less bold or masculine, the leaf hands work very well playing off of the Roman numeral typeface. The sub-seconds hand is then a thin stick with a counter weight. I like the contrast here of the seconds to the hour/minute. The seconds hand feels more like part of an instrument or tool, which Chronometers essentially were.
The SH21 is no small achievement for the brand, and with this replica watch, they are beginning to show its versatility. With the massive 5-day/120-hour power reserve, I always felt that making it hand wound would make the most sense. After all, it’s not like you need to constantly wind it with the concern it will die. A good winding once every 5 days and you should be good to go. So, I was very happy to see this replica watch was made with a manual version, as well as with a small seconds.
As mentioned before, you get a great view of the SH21 because of the huge case back window, but also because it is unobstructed by a rotor. You’ll immediately notice that the movement is quite different looking than most, with a single large plate in an odd, organic shape. Through cutouts, you can clearly make out the two massive barrels that are in series, giving the replica watch its large power reserve, as well as the balance. Everything else is hidden beneath the plate.
In terms of decoration, the SH21 might seem at first glance to be under decorated, but C Ward actually just went with a very classic, albeit not flashy approach. The large plate and the balance cock have been flat sanded by hand, rather than machine grained with more typical decorations like Cote De Geneve. While a subtle decoration, it’s very traditional and, according to their explanation, requires a high level of expertise. The large plate also has polished beveled edges, which catch the light nicely. Additionally, rather than the blue screws one often finds in higher end pieces, C Ward went with “English silver” screws which are flat polished on top. Sure, it lacks the wow of stripes and blue screws, but I very much enjoy knowing there is real craft in play here, as well as seeing something different for a change.
The SH21 features 27 jewels, date, hacking seconds, a frequency of 28,800bph and the already mentioned 5-day power reserve. Using it is the same as any other replica watch. Pulling the crown into first position allows you to change the date by turning it counter clockwise. Pull it out one more stop, the seconds hacks, and you can set the time. Simple as can be.
Straps and Wearability
The C9 5-Day SS Chronometer has 20mm lugs and comes mounted to either a blue, black or brown faux-croc leather strap, or a metal bracelet for an additional price. Clearly we have the blue strap here. It’s a good quality strap with nice edge painting, padding, etc. The faux croc embossing gets the illusion across, though at the price of these replica watches, I would have preferred genuine crocodile. My one issue with the strap is that the blue was a bit bright for me, coming across as somewhat synthetic . The strap also features C Ward’s Bader deployant, which is my favorite deployant by miles. It has a very elegant clasp with nice finishing, works very well and is simply more comfortable than standard ones.
On the wrist, the replica watch wears very well. The 40mm case has well tuned proportions, making it fit the wrist comfortably and look right. I recall the 43mm case wearing better than expected too, thanks to the proportions, but everything that was ok there, is great here. This is a replica watch you could easily wear all day comfortably. With the Marine Chronometer style, you also expect the replica watch to be a bit larger than a dress replica watch. In fact, 40mm is smaller than most, so it’s a nice balanced take on the concept.
It looks great too. It’s clean and reserved, but nevertheless has a lot of presence. It’s bold and masculine in a pleasant, not over-the-top or trying too hard kind of way. What’s great about Marine Chronometers is that they are fairly versatile replica watches. They are formal enough for the office or to be worn with a suit, despite their size, yet don’t look odd with more casual attire either.
The Christopher Ward C9 5-Day SS Chronometer is probably my favorite replica watch from the brand. The horological stars aligned when they made this, as it works aesthetically, but also conceptually. It’s a polished take on the Marine Chronometer with a very well executed case, a well-balanced and traditional dial and a superb in-house caliber for a very fair price. It’s also a Marine Chronometer that is actually a Chronometer! If you’re a fan of the style, what more can you ask for? It was also smart of them to use the SH21 in a style that differs from the other C9’s, which while attractive to some, others didn’t find appealing. This replica watch has a classic appeal that will likely please a wider crowd.
More over, it’s just a great value. Sure, $1,780 isn’t cheap, but for what you are getting, it’s a bargain. A 5-day in-house chronometer is not something that is typically associated with replica watches under $5k, let alone under $2k. It’s a lot of replica watch, and while the brand’s name might not date back 100 years, and they aren’t plastered on bus stops on Madison avenue, you are getting a great replica watch you can enjoy for a long time. They also back everything with a robust guarantee, which is also a rarity.