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Why Christopher Ward?

By Mike France, CEO & CW co-founder

With so many watch brands to choose from it’s a good question. But we think you might find several reasons why, if you are interested in fine watches, you might want to consider this small English company that has been causing a stir in the global luxury watch industry since 2004.

A simple aim

Discovering they could access the same components and superb manufacturing as many of the Swiss big boys, three friends, Mike France, Chris Ward and Peter Ellis decided they would turn the industry’s distribution model on its head and launch the world’s first online only luxury watch brand with a simple aim, “to put premium watches within the reach of everyone.”

More than ten years on, the Christopher Ward brand has become synonymous with creating superb timepieces at remarkable prices. So how is this horological David taking on and beating the luxury watch Goliaths?

  • Our watches are all made in Switzerland – the universally acknowledged home of fine watchmaking
  • We have a unique business model that puts the customer directly in touch with the watchmaker and takes out all the expensive middlemen
  • We apply fair margins to our cost prices which produces what we call honest pricing
  • The sort of old-fashioned customer care you may have thought had vanished but which is alive and well at Christopher Ward and under-pinned by our industry leading 60:60 Guarantee
Made in Switzerland

We’re an English company with our HQ in Maidenhead, Berkshire, so it’s perhaps no surprise that our watch designs are heavily influenced by English narratives and our aesthetics are often discreet and understated in that quintessentially English way. However, our watches are actually made in Switzerland under the auspices of our own workshop in Biel/Bienne, just around the corner from Omega.

Why Switzerland?

It’s simple. The Swiss have the best watchmaking infrastructure in the world which has attracted the very best watchmakers. We are very fortunate to have some of the finest young watchmakers in Switzerland crafting remarkable innovations (like the development of our own in-house movement) and ensuring the quality of our watches.

Our components are of the highest specification and the movements we use inside our watches are all entirely made and assembled in Switzerland. This provenance is your absolute guarantee that the finest Swiss precision engineering is at the heart of each Christopher Ward timepiece.

Unique Business Model

We turned the traditional luxury watch distribution model on its head by deciding to sell our own watches rather than relying on third party retailers. By selling exclusively online we were able to immediately halve the prices of our watches compared to other fine watch brands. However, we didn’t stop there.

No Celebrities

There’s no doubt that paying celebrities to promote your brand is the fastest way to grow sales. It’s also extremely expensive and the enormous costs involved are passed on to the customer in higher selling prices.

We took the view that there’s a growing constituency of well-informed people who understand this and who don’t need and don’t want the endorsement of an arbitrary yet expensive face. This constituency prefer instead to do their own research, often online, before making their decision.

So, if you see Brad Pitt or Nicole Kidman wearing a Christopher Ward watch (and you’d be surprised just how many celebs own a CW) you can at least have the satisfaction that they paid for it themselves!

No Sponsorships

Well, not in the traditional way at least. You won’t see Christopher Ward on an F1 car or Premiership football shirt anytime soon – although to date we have been approached by two of the former and nine of the latter- as the costs are extraordinary and again, would have to be accounted for with higher selling prices.

We introduced our CW Challenger Programme in 2013 to offer support to young people with world-class potential but who are desperately in need of funding – against the world, against all odds, as it were. We think this chimes with our own mission to take on and beat the big Swiss brands, has huge impact for the Challengers, and we are intensely proud that several of our challengers have become world champions, even Olympic Gold medallists, in their disciplines.

Honest Pricing, Fair Margins

Again, it’s a simple philosophy that informs our approach to pricing our watches. Whatever the cost price of the watch, we multiply this by around 3 times and that is the selling price, including VAT. This gives us enough margin to make a fair profit after covering the running costs of the business. Every penny we have profited has been poured back into the business to help us continue towards our mission of making fine watches accessible to everyone.

Our competitors may start with a similar cost price but that’s where the similarity ends.

  • Their overheads, including those celebrity endorsements and Formula 1 sponsorships, aren’t small
  • They then sell to the distributor at a price which includes enough margin to make a profit after taking those big overheads into account
  • Of course, the distributor has big overheads too, especially as luxury goods tend to be sold from very expensive retail premises on the world’s most expensive High Streets – and they, of course, need to make a profit
  • This usually means the price they paid the watch company needs to be doubled at least… and that’s the price you end up paying
This means a watch of the same quality and cost as a Christopher Ward model but from a brand using the traditional wholesale model will usually be sold to you at between 7 and 12 times the cost price compared to our x3.

Rated 5* on Trustpilot

Online community means a lot to us, and we’re very grateful to customers who take time to leave reviews. Feedback gives us an unrivalled opportunity to understand the real experiences of our customers, and we use that to make us better at serving them. We’re very proud of our 5* Trustpilot rating.

Buy now, pay later

When we started thinking about offering Interest Free Credit on purchases over £500, it was with the original goal of ‘making owning a fine watch accessible to more people’ in mind. Now we’re offering customers the chance to split purchases down, without having to wait to get their new watch onto the wrist.

PayPal checkout

Easy, fast and secure. What’s not to like? PayPal enables shopping for a Christopher Ward watch from all over the world – and from your mobile too. Who said fine timepieces couldn’t be an impulse buy?!

Unrivalled Customer Care

We have an unashamedly old-fashioned approach to customer service that eschews platitudes and relies on kindness, respect, courtesy and common sense. It’s borne of an acknowledgement that our success is entirely dependent on your satisfaction and delight. And that’s what we aim for every time.

We introduced our famous 60:60 Guarantee so you can buy with complete confidence and our approach to excellent service and great value extends to our service and repairs programme which will keep your Christopher Ward watch in tip top condition during a lifetime of precision timekeeping.

If we get things wrong we aim to put them right quickly with the minimum of fuss and hassle for you. And if ever you are unhappy or frustrated with our service you can contact one of the founders of the business, at the email addresses below and be sure one or more of us will help you with your problem.