A simple plan The Malverns are Christopher Ward’s entry-level watches, and so have to be quite simple to make. But, as Adrian Buchmann discovers, that doesn’t make them easier to design… Though it might seem counter-intuitive, designing a relatively inexpensive watch is actually more difficult than a more expensive one, writes Adrian Buchmann. It can be just as time consuming – more so, even – and you’re constantly running into barriers, because the cost of each part or procedure is the first and last thing on the agenda. The manufacturing costs, in particular, are in your mind every step of the way.
more expensive watches, demands much more finishing work than an off-the-peg Sellita movement. I was pleased we could make the rotor on the C5 Malvern Automatic bespoke, but the rest of it is the standard finish. The bridge, for instance, is exactly as supplied. What would I have done differently if we’d been given a bigger budget? Well, a movement with more detailing on it would have been nice, and I would have liked to keep the screws. But those are luxuries, really, and in no way essential. When you’re creating an entry level watch, compromises like that are very easy to make.
Take the case, for instance. With these, it’s not how much metal we use that matters. It’s more that each step – the milling, the drilling, the stamping – has a cost attached, so the fewer steps are necessary, the better it will be. The C1 Grand Malvern case has been a big success, and part of that has been to do with all the different elements there are to it – so I always knew that bringing to market something that was simpler to make, but still contained plenty of recognisable C1 design DNA, was going to be quite a task. To make the C3 and C5 Malverns easier to put together, for instance, we use a snap back on the case, instead of the little screws we use on the C1. The screws look lovely, and have a higher perceived value – but, at the end of the day, the functionality is the same. And it’s the same with the movement. Calibre SH21, which we use in our
Looking at a few more specific areas, our new curved dial is one reason why the price has gone up on the new models. The old dial might have cost us something like £10 or £15 a unit, but the new one is two or three times that. The hands are considerably better too, but as they’re a more minor part they don’t impact on the overall cost as much. Even quite complex hands are relatively easy to manufacture, so if the cost goes up by 20%, that’s still only a pound or two. And then there’s the domed glass that comes with the curved dial. This is by no means a recent innovation – plenty of good vintage watches use it – but in recent years many of the big Swiss brands have been so profit driven