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CONCEPT becomes REALITY The magazine of Christopher Ward. Issue 23. Autumn 2021


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The Thetide tideisisturning turning When When it comes it comes to to ocean-bound ocean-bound plastic plastic pollution, pollution, enough enough is enough. is enough. Step Step forward forward thethe unique unique C60 C60 #tide. #tide. A superlative A superlative dive dive watch watch with with a neon-like a neon-like sapphire sapphire dialdial and and chronometer chronometer and and toughness toughness in equal in equal measure. measure. ButBut that’s that’s only only half half thethe story. story. Thanks Thanks to to ourour partnership partnership with with social social enterprise, enterprise, #tide, #tide, thethe watch’s watch’s casecaseback back inserts inserts and and strap strap areare made made from from 100% 100% recycled recycled ocean ocean plastic plastic (though (though youyou cancan also also choose choose a marine-grade a marine-grade steel steel bracelet). bracelet). Which Which makes makes forfor a healthier a healthier ocean. ocean. And And a watch a watch you’ll you’ll take take pride pride in wearing. in wearing.

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Loupe. The magazine of Christopher Ward.

You can’t fit the world in a magazine. But you can celebrate the best bits: the magnificent people, places and culture that make living on this spinning ball of rock so worthwhile. And that’s what we’ve tried to do in this issue of Loupe. First, there are the watches: in particular, the groundbreaking C60 Concept. Finding out how Christopher Ward’s team took the Concept from drawing board to reality gives you an insight into the passion and expertise that drives this company. Then there’s the story of the C63 Colchester, a new Military Collection watch that celebrates the legacy of the Parachute Regiment. But it’s not all about watches. We also dive into the world of vinyl records to find out what analogue trumps digital every time. Then we take a global photographic tour with a set of magnificent portraits. And if you don’t think Michael Caine is the coolest ‘Great watch-wearer’ yet, then we can’t be friends. There’s lots more to discover inside, but we’ll leave that to you.

Out in the open The C60 Concept, which adorns the cover of this magazine, is a magnificent watch. It’s made possible not only by the superhuman efforts of the Christopher Ward design and engineering teams but also by the skills of valued horological partners like Armin Strom, Chronode and Xenoprint. Our Calibre SH21 movement that powers the Concept is only possible because of the manufacturing expertise of companies such as EMP and Viquedeco that also create components for many ‘high-end’ brands. Not that these brands will necessarily tell you so. Respected watch journalist Ken Kessler exposes some of the fibs prevalent in the watch industry in his excellent piece in the Insight section. We want to encourage more watch brands (and not just the Swiss ones!) to celebrate the post-pandemic world opening up by similarly opening up about the actual provenance of their watches – rather than giving the impression they’re the sole manufacturers. By doing so, they will not demean their products. On the contrary, they’ll be adding to the consumer’s understanding of mechanical watchmaking – and the more you understand about this incredible industry, the more you want to be involved. Something that’s good for everyone.

Editor: Anthony Teasdale Art Director: Jamie Gallagher Designer: Sam Burn Photography: Peter Canning, George Simms

Mike & Peter

Cover: C60 Concept 1 Park St, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1SL christopherward.com

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Contents Features 10 – 11

Ride like the wind

Meet James Hayden: ultra- endurance cyclist – and our latest Challenger

12 – 19

High Concept

The story of the incredible C60 Concept: a skeletonised watch that may be CW’s most advanced model yet

24 – 26

Wessex appeal

20 – 23

Vinyl countdown What’s so special about records? And are they really better than digital? We investigate

Face book

28 – 33

Incredible pictures from the third volume of the Portrait Of Humanity photo series

Introducing the C63 Colchester: our latest addition to the Military Collection

Regulars The Brief

46 – 49

O-pinion

Portrait Of Humanity

28 — 33

C63 Colchester

34 — 39

Insight Ken Kessler shows why ‘manufacture’ status is just a way to impress watch snobs

Latest news from Christopher Ward and the wider world of watches

40 – 43

12 — 19

Air born

34 – 39

Boutique brand Wessex Watches brings cutting-edge techniques to dial design

6 – 9

C60 Concept

50

Timespan How Maidenhead swimmer Tom Dean took Olympic gold

Cultural highlights for the season ahead

45 Great watch- wearers Michael Caine comes under the microscope

£500 CW voucher

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Scan the code to take part in our survey – with the chance to win a £500 CW voucher


News, reports & innovations. This issue: Green Sealanders land, C65 preview, news from Switzerland, CW on Instagram

Green-dialled monsters In watchmaking, as in fashion, colours help define an age. And according to blogs like Hodinkee and Chrono24, green watches have gone from being a niche choice to a here-tostay market stalwart. Now Christopher Ward has launched green-dialled versions of the C63 Sealander Automatic and C63 Sealander GMT (as well as a pair of blue Sealanders, too). But these are no ordinary dials. Instead, both the C63 Sealander Automatic and C63 Sealander GMT boast green dials that have been given the ‘ombré’ treatment, ie: distressed by hand.

This means that each individual watch is subtly different from the next. “We’d noticed the green trend had solidified into something more permanent,” says Mike France, CEO of Christopher Ward. “So it made perfect sense to bring the colour into the collection via the Sealander range. And because the ombré finish is something we’re known for, that treatment seemed the obvious choice.” As well as the green ombré models, sophisticated blue versions of the C63 Sealander Automatic and C63 Sealander GMT launched at the same time.

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Both green, and blue C63 Sealander Automatics are now available priced £595/$695/€750. The C63 Sealander GMT, in both green and blue, is £795/$950/€995


New feature

Letter from Biel

New feature

’Gram designs!

What’s new from the Swiss HQ

This issue’s favourite watch-friendly Instagram account @watchfigures WatchFigures is an instagram channel that brings one man’s two great passions together: premium watches and Lego. Run by Andrei Stihi from Indianapolis, USA, his photos feature ‘minifigs’ (as policemen, firefighters etc.) interacting with a fine selection of timepieces – including those from Christopher Ward. Hi Andrei! Tell us about WatchFigures… I wanted to do something slightly different and just happened to have some Lego minifigs nearby (I’m a huge Lego fan). So I thought it would be fun if the minifigs were in the shot, seeing things from their perspective and interacting with watches.

Why do you like Christopher Ward? I love CW for the originality of its designs and the fantastic quality of the pieces. I’ve handled a few CW pieces over the years, but the C60 Sapphire is the first I’ve owned, and it’s every bit as good as watches costing three or four times the price. What’s your favourite CW watch? The C1 Moonglow is by far my favourite: it’s just a bit out of my price range at the moment!

How do you set up the photos? I try to take most shots from the eye-level of the minifigs and see the watch as they’d see it – or have them playing with it in some way. I’ve picked up many tips over the years by checking other people’s shots on instagram (especially when there are fantastic behind-the-scenes shots included like @enjoythewatches).

The last few weeks have seen us working on the new C60 Concept watch, which is out in October. While it’s been complicated – the machine of a key supplier was out of action for a few weeks – things have gone well, and the watches look amazing. As in any watch manufacture, there were some difficulties. With the C60 Concept, it was hard to match the orange of the triangle with the orange of the hand. The triangle’s orange is SuperLuminova, whereas the hand is pure paint. So it took us ages to get them to match up. Thankfully, the problem has been solved. Everyone here is thrilled about the C60 Concept. The production has a ‘tree’ of tasks, and we went through 179 items and operations with each watch. It’s like conducting an orchestra – to see it work out was incredibly satisfying. On this watch, you see every part, so the quality standards have to be perfect. The C60 Concept is the best showcase for our Calibre SH21 so far and enables it to use the movement to its full potential. It also shows what we’re capable of and that we can still offer value in the higher echelons of watchmaking. Away from the C60 Concept, we’ve hired a new watchmaker from Greubel Forsey as we wanted someone with extra expertise at the high end of the industry. He’ll be able to tackle the most complicated projects alongside Frank Steltzer, the technical director. As the pandemic (hopefully!) fades, there’s a feeling of optimism in the air around Biel. Though the lockdowns weren’t as hard as those in the UK, it’s still great to see things getting back to normal. And there are some inspiring projects ahead. More about those next time! Jörg Bader Jr, product manager, Biel

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Keeping up with the Jones A boutique British watch company has brought fine art to one of its flagship models – and there’s a Christopher Ward movement powering it. The ‘The Indefatigable Sphinx’ piece is made by Mr Jones, and powered by the modified JJ01 jumping-hour movement. According to Crispin Jones from Mr Jones, the watch is a unique fusion of advanced horology and art in the shape of illustrations from regular collaborator, Edward Carvalo-Monaghan. So successful has it proved that it’s already sold out. “The watch uses the JJ01 jump hour module,” says Crispin. “But more than just the hour numeral changes: every hour the winged sphinx gets a new head – like a skull or a bowl of fruit – and simultaneously the all-seeing eye looks in a different direction!”

For Crispin, the modified movement – created by Christopher Ward – has been vital to its appeal. “We love JJ01,” he says. “It’s a beautifully engineered solution to create the hour jump and it has a concentric hour disc, which allows us to create a large hour disc with the various different elements changing around the dial.” mrjoneswatches.com

Breaking records – and barriers The InternationElles is a group of amateur women cyclists who gather annually to protest against gender inequality in cycling. With links to Christopher Ward, and sharing the same passion for riding and timing precision, the company has been monitoring their efforts with interest. Formed in 2019, the women publicise their cause by riding the Tour de France route one day ahead of male riders. However, for the second year running, they’ve been unable to do so because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Unbowed by this, four of the UK riders, Rhian Denton, Lousie Vardeman, Jules Cass and Jess Fawcett instead cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats – and broke a world relay record in the process. Beginning their journey at Land’s End on June 28th the team rode the 1,349km in 46 hours and three minutes, arriving at John O’Groats at 3.20am on Wednesday June 31st. The effort is all part of their ongoing battle to reduce the gender pay gap in professional riding, increase media coverage of women’s events and put more females in positions of influence. Image: Francis Cade; Rob Vardeman


Drawing board

The C65 range of retro dive watches has been one of the essential collections at Christopher Ward over the last few years. From the ultra-sophisticated C65 Trident Auto to the groundbreaking C65 Super Compressor, the winning combination of vintage design and contemporary (and reliable!) mechanics has brought in a slew of stylefocused fans to CW. And while this is something that’s been wonderful to behold, constant improvement is what drives Christopher Ward. As the life cycle of each watch generation is around four to five years, the CW design team has begun work on a second iteration of the C65. As in the first models, influences come from the golden age of dive watches, released between 1950’70 – though the level of engineering and innovation is distinctly 21st century. Christopher Ward product designer Will Brackfield says some of the new designs are focusing on the diving bezel.

“I can’t go into too much detail, but we’ve been looking at improving the bezel, and experimenting with different materials, colours and widths. Nothing is set in stone yet, but one thing I can say is that every element of the C65 will be radically improved.” Can he not be more specific than that? “We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations about the case, and there’s also been early work on the lugs. How can we make them better? More comfortable? There’s a lot to wrestle with but it’s an incredibly exciting project to work on.” In terms of models, an automatic and GMT are confirmed, while a ‘range topper’ will almost certainly see the light of day. Already, 3D case designs have been sent from the CW atelier in Switzerland, and they’ve been met with approval by senior staff. If all goes to plan, the new C65 watches should see the light of day by summer 2022. We’ll keep you posted.

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Challenger

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Ultra-endurance cyclist. Engineer. Watch lover. Christopher Ward’s latest Challenger, James Hayden, is certainly going places

There are few people who epitomise the Christopher Ward Challenger spirit better than endurance cyclist James Hayden. If you’re unaware, endurance cycling sees competitors riding up to 300km in one day, and taking part in races of up to 4,000km in length. And James Hayden is one of the best in the world. The back-to-back winner of the gruelling Transcontinental Race (which goes from the Black Sea to Brittany), James has overcome extreme pain and unimaginable exhaustion all over the world to climb – literally – to the peak of his sport. Here, he explains what drives him, and why he’s fascinated by watches. Christopher Ward: Hi James! How did you become an ultra-endurance cyclist? James Hayden: When I was 19 or 20, I moved to London to go to uni and started commuting by bike. I lived near the Herne Hill velodrome, and one Tuesday evening went down there. I realised I was good at cycling and began to win events. By the time I was 22 I was racing at the top level, but gave it up after a couple of bad crashes. Then I just cycled for fun, but this time it was ultra-endurance stuff. One thing led to another, and here I am now!

CW. Are you a competitive person? JH: I’d say no. But other people might say yes! When I was younger, I was competitive, but with maturity, you realise you’re in a losing game from the beginning. Whereas when you compare yourself to yourself, you can constantly improve and win. CW: As a qualified civil engineer, do you appreciate mechanical watchmaking? JH: Yeah, I do. When I was allowed to choose a watch, I asked for the C60 Abyss SH21 as it has the in-house Calibre SH21 movement, and you can see it from both sides thanks to the sapphire dial. I’ve also got the C63 Sealander Elite, which I wore recently for a race – and which felt great because it’s so light and slim. CW: In general, how do you use a watch when you’re racing? JH: ‘Stop time’ is the biggest killer in a race. When I get off the bike to go into a shop or sit down, I use my watch as a timer to reference back. CW: How does it feel when you’re pushing yourself to the limit? JH: There are two types of feelings – physical and emotional. And if you can 11

control your emotions, you can control the physical side. There are highs and lows in every race where everything feels against you, but I’ve done it long enough to know those periods pass. They allow you to access the door to the next level, where you get the super-high highs. CW: Have there been moments when you’ve thought, ‘This is impossible’? JH: Vividly. The obvious one would be from the Highland Trail – the race I finished earlier in the year. There was a gruelling moment in a remote section called ‘Fisher Field’, which takes about 12 hours. Because it had been raining hard, we had to cross about 50 metres of waistdeep water. You’re wet, you’re cold, it’s raining relentlessly, and you have to hike another couple of hours out of the valley, then ride for another five hours to get anywhere. It’s also incredibly beautiful! CW: What’s the most challenging hill you’ve ever gone up? JH: I don’t know. But I’ve done some ascents in Kyrgyzstan where you’re climbing from 1,000 metres to over 4,000 metres off-road, which takes seven to eight hours from bottom to top. CW: Have you ever had any serious injuries? JH: I’ve had a few bad ones. Six or seven years ago, I came off and broke most things in the right side of my face – exterior skull, jaw, cheekbone, eye socket. That was quite… fun! CW: You use the slogan, ‘Pushing limits, inspiring change’. Why? JH: I do what I do because I enjoy it. I hope I can help to inspire other people to have the confidence, desire, motivation or belief they can do something to challenge themselves. For more, visit; jamesmarkhayden.eu or follow him @jamesmarkhayden


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W

hen Christopher Ward launched the astonishing C60 Apex in 2019, it represented the best the brand could possibly achieve – at that time. Two years on, comes a watch to eclipse it. The C60 Concept typifies CW’s greatest strengths – innovative design, exceptional attention-to-detail, a determination to go the extra mile – while also celebrating the company’s remarkable in-house movement, Calibre SH21. Stripped bare and mounted on a skeletonised base plate and bridges, it’s revealed in all its intricate, robust glory. At £3,495 in a limited run of 210, by Christopher Ward standards it’s an expensive watch. But at the same time, it demonstrates the CW value proposition like little before. A titanium case? A fully skeletonised in-house movement? And crucial parts finished to a standard that compares with Audemars Piguet? Suddenly, it’s a bargain.

“If anyone else were to bring out this watch, it would sell for at least £10,000, and probably a lot more,” says CEO and co-founder Mike France. “But that’s not the way we operate. We pulled out all the stops here not to jack up the price, but because we thought we could make an extraordinary piece. With the C60 Concept you can really see the beauty of SH21, and by hand-finishing parts most people couldn’t even name, it comes to life in front of your eyes.” The C60 Concept is a genuine dive watch, with 300m of water resistance and a ceramic bezel – although, admittedly, a minimalist dial ring that might not be immediately readable in the murk of a shipwreck – but it’s also a test-bed for design concepts that may appear on future mainstream models (more on that later). “What’s the number-one element that separates truly high-end watches from everyday ones?,” asks head of product design Adrian Buchmann. “Extreme levels of finishing. And that becomes even more important when a watch is open-worked, front and rear. With the C60 Concept you can see the balance moving from the dial side for the first time, while both barrels are skeletonised. Everything has to be exquisite, because there’s nowhere to hide.” To this end, components are sandblasted, brushed and hand-polished. Moving parts are coated in silvery rhodium, and non-moving ones in grey rhutenium.

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Instead of the three or four wheels you could see moving on the C60 Apex, here you see all of them. The end result is gloriously 3D, so bridges slope down into crevices then rise out of them again, while the inner workings catch the light in ways to rival CW’s celebrated cases. “As much of the base plate and bridges as possible have been removed, and what remains has been redesigned and finished impeccably,” Adrian says. “It should come as no surprise that this is both the prettiest and the lightest automatic SH21 there’s ever been.” When Christopher Ward’s former master watchmaker, Johannes Jahnke, created SH21 seven years ago, he wanted a ‘tractor’ of a movement: one that was both solid and reliable, and though it’s been refined a number of times since, how little has changed bears tribute to the rightness of that original design. There are now around 8,000 examples ‘in the wild’, and it’s proven to be the most robust and reliable movement CW has ever offered. But this is far from its only virtue. “One thing often forgotten about SH21 is its signature twin-barrel architecture,” says Mike. “This gives it an outstanding power reserve of five days, or 120 hours. At any price point, you’d be hard pushed to find many watches to rival that – and fewer to beat it. SH21 is special, not just because it’s ours, or because it’s so dependable. It actually outperforms most rivals in crucial ways, too.”


“If anyone else were to bring out this watch, it would sell for at least £10,000” 15


“SH21 is special, not just because it’s ours, or because it’s so dependable – but because it actually outperforms its rivals” 16


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C60 Concept Movement: Skeletonised Calibre SH21 Automatic COSC Case: Titanium Bezel: Ceramic Diameter: 42mm Height: 16.1mm Weight: 71g Lug to lug: 49.3mm Water resistance: 30 ATM / 300m Timing tolerance: +6/-4 seconds per day Power reserve: 120 hrs Lume: X1 C1 (hands, inner ring and bezel). Globolight XP© (triangle) Limited edition: 210 pieces 18

Price from: £3,495 / $4,370 / €4,440


“Our strength has always been in bringing aspects of watchmaking previously only available at ultrahigh price points to more people”

Back in the day, watches were often judged on the quality of their movements – their accuracy, yes, but the materials and workmanship, too. The Swiss industry rejoiced in a ‘synergistic’ environment, where specialist suppliers concentrated on what they did best, and watchmakers used their individual skills as required. Specialists like this still exist, of course – but they’re rarely talked about outside companies like CW, where transparency is valued. Another important part of the thinking behind the C60 Concept, then, was that it should provide an excuse to celebrate some of CW’s remarkable collaborators – and two of them, in particular. First up, there’s Armin Strom, a near-neighbour of the CW atelier in Biel. Specialists in unusual, intellectually pleasing engineering solutions, their own watches – often selling at prices more commonly associated with luxury cars – are exquisite examples of horological nous, utilising esoteric movements that demand to be viewed.

As such, they’ve become experts at highly skeletonised designs, where each element is placed for visual appeal as well as technical elegance. Naturally, they were the ideal partners to provide the Concept’s striking base plate and bridges. “We’re thrilled Armin Strom chose to work with us, though we usually operate at opposite ends of the industry,” says Frank Stelzer, CW’s technical director. “But they understand what we’re about, and enjoy the intellectual challenge of helping us get close to their quality, but at our price points.” And then there’s Chronode, hand-finishing specialists who’ve detailed the SH21 you see here to standards higher than Christopher Ward has ever previously attempted; indeed, their work on the base plate and four different bridges takes almost six hours per watch. “If their workmanship is good enough for Czapek and MB&F, two ambitious indie brands which sell at prices often north of £100,000, then it’s good enough for us,” says senior product manager Jörg Bader Jr. “Our parts are finished alongside theirs, and to exactly the same standards.”

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As its name might suggest, the C60 Concept has one additional role: as a testbed for designs and ideas earmarked for regular CW models further down the line. Since this is a C60, of course, we’re talking about the next generation of Trident Pros. “May 2023 is the date we’ve pencilled in for the launch of our fourth-generation C60 Trident,” says watch designer Will Brackfield. “And the Concept previews some of our thinking about that family, particularly in terms of detail design elements and materials used. For instance, that prominent orange triangle at 12 o’clock is particularly interesting. It’s made of an amazing luminous ceramic material, Globolight XP©, created by a company called Xenoprint, which can be moulded then machined into all sorts of 3D shapes. It’s something we’re looking at doing more with in the future.” For now, though, let’s just enjoy the C60 Concept itself, and all the ways in which it pushes Christopher Ward forward. It’s not only the most impressive watch the company could possibly create at this precise moment in time, but also sells at a price accessible enough to send ripples throughout the industry. “Our strength has always been in bringing aspects of watchmaking previously only available at ultra-high price points to more people,” Mike says. “That’s why my famous challenge remains open. If you can bring me an objectively better watch at a comparable price, I’ll give you our equivalent model for free. Nobody’s ever taken me up on it.” And we doubt they will any time soon. After all, the C60 Concept is a £3,495 piece that would be genuine value at five times that. For now, it’s the ultimate Christopher Ward.


Plastic fantastic

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While streaming has become the default way of consuming music, for one audiophile only the warm analogue sound of vinyl will do Words: Ken Kessler

You know a ‘thing’ has entered the mainstream when it appears as a meme in advertising. The revival of the vinyl LP, and to a lesser extent, the lowly cassette, must be part of the public consciousness because you cannot escape them as devices to indicate ‘cool’: pre-owned watch dealer Watchfinder has used a record deck in its TV ads, more fashion houses than I can list employ LPs as style devices – one insurance company even has a dog listening to vinyl in its commercials. What this tells music-lovers, especially audiophiles, is that streaming has not vanquished physical media. If there’s an easier analogy to illustrate this, it’s the failure of electronic ‘readers’ like Kindle to vanquish the dead-tree book. Old-school bibliophiles must rejoice on long flights when some Kindle user’s batteries have died with only pages to go. All a traditional book requires is light by which to read. What streaming and downloads promised was not freedom from electricity – all music reproduction systems except for player-pianos require power – but the

death of shelf-filling libraries. Over the decades, physical media has comprised, in order: Edison cylinders, 78s, open-reel tape, vinyl LPs and singles, cassettes and ultimately, Compact Disc. The problem? All take up space. Non-physical delivery in the form of downloads and real-time streaming freed music lovers from any need for a disc or tape. Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and the like enabled access to literally tens of millions of tracks at the touch of a smartphone, the click of a mouse or a tap on a remote control. What they never promised was sound quality to make your heart soar. There are two user-psychology issues here, the first of which is easy to dismiss. On one hand there is the attitude ending with Baby Boomers, that of possessing a library you can see and touch. On the other is the virtual library which exists in the ‘cloud’ – the cyber collection. Whether you’re a Boomer, a Gen X-er, a Millennial or of another age group, either you appreciate something physical to handle, with liner notes to absorb and a ritual to perform before playing, or you want an effortless, instantaneous, clutter-free life. What appears to have transpired is that the former – the users of LPs, CDs and cassettes – are not embracing cyber-music, and not because of techno-fear, but

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because of experience and familiarity. Paradoxically, those who have known only on streaming and downloads are providing most of the converts to vinyl and cassettes. Indeed, oldsters are rediscovering the vinyl they stored in the basement or loft, or regretting dumping them for CDs. Nostalgia may play a part, too, as one replaces a well-worn copy of the Stooges’ Fun House with a pristine, remastered copy. But for those born after the LP and cassette were declared dead and CD dominated the market, the appeal of LPs (and to a lesser extent cassettes) is based on the novelty value of something to hold, or perhaps an appreciation of sleeve art. But then there’s the sound. Nobody is championing the reborn cassette for its sonic merit, as this most unreliable of music delivery systems never matched open-reel tape, CD or LP unless one made one’s own recordings on top-quality tape, via a hideously-expensive cassette deck. The cassette’s re-emergence is entirely due to its role in the hugely-successful Guardians Of The Galaxy films, while a handful of deliberately contrary musicians have issued new releases on cassette just to seem hip. LPs, on the other hand, sound great on sub-£300 record decks, are readily-available in charity shops (used condition-variable), and exhibit all of the sonic qualities even the most obsessive of audiophiles demands. Arguably the only thing better is open-reel tape, but that is a format with little or no contemporary support, so it exists in the same niche as running a pre-war Bugatti or a Sopwith Camel.


Want to go back to vinyl? Here’s what you’ll need

Pro-Ject Debut turntable (£249-£799)

This turntable helped kick off the vinyl revolution in the 1990s and has become the default purchase. Available at various quality levels, all of them kind to LPs.

“Digital processing hacks music into bits and reassembles it”

Quad Vena II Play (£799)

Why does vinyl sound better? The most obvious explanation is that the LP, like music itself, is pure analogue. What all digital playback systems, including CD, streaming and downloading, do to the original recording is what a jigsaw puzzle does to a picture. No matter how fine the pieces, it cannot be a perfect nor even a near-perfect facsimile of the original. Same for music: digital processing hacks music into bits and reassembles it, adding its own unpleasant sonic artefacts.

An all-in-one amplifier with a phono stage for vinyl playback, as well as inputs for other sources, and wireless connectivity for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

That’s not to say all digital sucks, and the best CDs and SACDs sound marvellous, but it takes more work, for fewer rewards, than the venerable LP – soon to reach its 75th birthday. Decent turntables can cost as little as £150, brand-new LPs retail for under £15, used vinyl for 50p an album, and the selection is vast. All you have to do is play them side-by-side with any digital source and you’ll understand that one sounds like pleasant noise. The other? Like real music.

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KEF LS50 Meta (£999)

A little miracle of a speaker, suitable for shelf- or stand-mounting, with performance you won’t believe for a box only 302mm tall.


Why I sold my records Words: Anthony Teasdale

It’s April 1981. I’m nine years old. There’s a fiver burning a hole in my pocket – and I know exactly what I’m going to spend it on. For the last year, Adam Ant has replaced Liverpool goalie Ray Clemence as my hero. His new record Stand And Deliver is an instant classic and has a video in which Adam – real name Stuart Goddard – dresses up as a ‘dandy highwayman’, and proceeds to hold up a posh couple and then make off with the lady (who’s wearing a Sony Walkman). From that day, records were my thing. Duran Duran. Madness. The Cure. Dexy’s. Grandmaster Flash. Chaka Khan. I loved them all – wearing them out on my little Fidelity turntable. (My dad had a Ferguson ‘music centre’ which was out of bounds). With the rave scene, I started to DJ. Buying Fool’s Gold by the Stone Roses and Know How by Young MC from HMV in

Manchester on the same day in December 1989. Playing them a few Saturdays after at a disco-pub and realising that DJing was what I wanted to do more than anything. For three decades, I hoovered up records – mostly dance 12s – every week. Until one day in 2003, I bought a single on iTunes. And I soon found I could download high-resolution ‘WAV’ files of my entire collection – and play them through my hi-fi. In DJing, the activity that had kept vinyl going in the UK when major labels abandoned it in favour of CDs, DJs were switching from the Technics SL1210 turntable to Pioneer’s CDJ 2000. As someone who’d lugged bags of records around the world, the romance of vinyl was tempered by a bent spine and a permanent ache in my shoulder. So when a couple of years ago I had to clear a debt with the charming folks at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, I decided to sell my records. To prepare myself, I read (DJ) Dave Haslam’s A Life In Thirty-Five Boxes: How I Survived Selling My Record

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Collection, and then in January 2020, a chap came round in an old estate car and took them all away. How did I feel? A little sad as he packed my memories into the car. But also relieved – finally I had space! And I was DJing with USB sticks anyway. Even better, the physical records would end up with music-lovers all over the world. Which means they get to experience the joy of pulling out the record, taking a sniff of the plastic and placing the vinyl on the platter. I’m happy for them – but I’m not envious.


A boutique watch brand in south-west England is fusing craftsmanship with modern technology to create

Words:

intricate dials unlike

Stuart

anything else on

Woodington

the market 24


When Jamie Boyd woke on September 15th, 2015, he couldn’t have realised how the next few days would change his life – and give birth to a unique watch company. Diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), he attended a routine doctor’s appointment. Three hours later, following an ECG, he lay low and wired up in the ICU at the Great Western Hospital due to heart failure. Six days on, he was discharged with a truck-load of meds and a stark warning from his consultant: “Change your lifestyle or the next time I see you, I’ll be signing your death certificate.” Back home, bored, he decided to build the watch he’d been putting off for years because of stressful work commitments. It had to be unique and have an engraved silver dial of his own design. Three months of searching and ludicrous quotes were enough to set him on the track to making the dial himself: Wessex Watches began to take shape. Jamie’s stressful job was creating ‘emergency software code’ for financial sector companies. But his passion (apart from mechanical watches – started when his dad bought him a Seiko Seahorse), having grown up in rural Wessex, was all-things Saxon: their history and their art, particularly silver engraving.

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As Jamie thought about his future, an idea formed. What if he combined his work skills with his love for making custom-built watches? Watches with uniquely engraved dials, but not just for those with a Breguet budget? Investigating the industrial laser market, he hypothesised that certain laser grades could be manipulated to produce high-quality guilloché and detailed engravings not possible by other machines or even by hand engraving. He invested heavily in two laser systems and began three years of “learning my art”. The result is Wessex Watches: a company that hand-makes quality timepieces, fusing top components with intricately and uniquely engraved precious metal dials. These are created from multi-layered CAD artwork – vector files in a proprietary format that can make the laser replicate a hand-engraver’s work.


“I think Wessex and the Wessex way is what I was destined to do,” says Jamie. “It combines both extremities of my left and right brain: using computer technology differently and being artistic at the same time.” Wessex produces both automatic and hand-wound watches, with options and a plethora of dial styles. The ‘Peerless’ range, featuring layered dials, showcases iconic examples of guilloché, while the custom-watch builds allow for a level of artistic freedom rarely seen in horology – check the ‘tsunami’ design inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai’s famous painting The Wave. “Our methods allow us not only to reproduce coveted traditional guilloché patterns,” says Jamie. “But also to take guilloché to a new dimension by engraving seemingly impossible op-art and fractal designs.”

Depending on the commission, a dial’s finish can involve engraving with hand tools, cleaning by hand and ultrasonics, Champlevé enamelling with ‘cold’ enamels, and hand-painting. Then follows cleaning, polishing, brushing and the application of conservator’s wax – all by hand. Finally, Jamie assembles the watch, using the most suitable components before finally regulating it to COSC standards of accuracy and final testing. The result is a selection of timepieces that are the perfect fusion of passion, technology and art. With a pinch of Saxon craftsmanship thrown in for good measure. wessexwatches.co.uk

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Happy Moonday The C1 Moonglow can accurately chart the phases of the moon for 128 years. And like every Christopher Ward watch it blends Swiss watchmaking excellence with classic British styling. The only thing that’s down-to-earth about it is the price.

christopherward.com


Face

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The third instalment of the Portrait Of Humanity series shows a world living through extraordinary circumstances

koob

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Left: My Mother Next to Me by Marco Carmignan, Vicenza, Italy This page: Wanda by Zuzanna Szamocka, Warsaw, Poland


Right: David and Alex by Lidia Sharapova, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA This page: Lilly and Waltraud by Mirja Maria Thiel, Travemünde, Germany

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In a year when everyone stayed in, it’s life-affirming to see images of people defiantly looking outward. That’s the first impression of Portrait Of Humanity Vol 3, a book of portraits taken by different photographers around the world during 2020. While the previous two instalments showed homo sapiens in all its strange beauty (and we are a very weird species), the pandemic provided a unique once-inlifetime backdrop. With 200 portraits featured, the book takes us on a multi-faceted, multi-cultural tour across the world. From child workers in Ghana to tattooed grandads in Bangkok; Finnish ecologists to new-born babies in Oxford, all human life is here. Often, because this is 2020 we’re talking about, wearing a mask.

But for writer Otegha Uwagba, who provides the book’s introduction, the Covid-19 pandemic makes the pictures even more poignant. She says: “Though this has undoubtedly been a year that many would rather forget, we must not forget it – because look closely at the images that follow, and you will see that they capture humanity in all its multifaceted beauty and fragility.” Portrait Of Humanity, Vol 3 is published by Hoxton Mini Press, priced £22.95 hoxtonminipress.com

This page, left: Oscar Pandiño by Carlos Saavedra, Soacha, Colombia This page, right: Womanhood Academy by Wendy Carrig, London, UK Right: Protestors by Virginia Hines, San Francisco, California, USA 32


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AIRBORN BORN AIR READY FOR ANYTHING 34


All-carbon, all innovation – the new C63 Colchester is a fitting tribute to the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, and a stand-out addition to our Military Collection Words: Anthony Teasdale Colchester has history.

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Out on the Essex plains, looking out to sea from the banks of the River Colne, there’s been a military presence in the town since Roman times, when the Legio XX Valeria Victrix set up a garrison here. In the Napoleonic wars, the Colchester Garrison was a base for 7,000 troops, and ever since, various British Army regiments have made it their home. Today, the garrison is the base of one of the most respected fighting forces in the world, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Parachute Regiment. Founded in 1942 (as the 1st Parachute Battalion), the Paras played a leading role in missions like Operation Market Garden and the Battle Of Arnhem. Since the end of World War II, they’ve been deployed everywhere from Cyprus and Suez to Iraq, Afghanistan and – most famously of all – the Falkland Islands. As the regiment says: “Paratroopers are trained to conduct a range of missions, from prevention and preemption tasks to complex, high-intensity war-fighting. Watchwords are professionalism, resilience, discipline, versatility, courage and self-reliance.”


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So when Christopher Ward was looking for inspiration in its next Military Collection watch, the Paras seemed the obvious choice. But a choice that couldn’t be taken lightly. Not for nothing is the Para’s motto: Utrinque Paratus – ’Ready for anything’. Nearly a year after the Christopher Ward team began working with the Paras, the watch is here – and it’s a beauty. To say the new C63 Colchester is ’ready for anything’ is an understatement: this is a precision timing device that brings innovative construction techniques and materials together with elite Swiss watchmaking. In short, a watch that does the Paras justice. “The C63 Colchester could be the most sophisticated watch we’ve ever made,” says Mike France, Christopher Ward CEO and co-founder. “When they’re jumping out of a plane, the Paras need kit that’s strong and light. That’s why we chose the C63 Sealander Elite as the template for the C63 Colchester. It struck both us and the regiment that weight, durability, strength, comfort and technicality were critical. And the Elite delivered all that.”

But make no mistake, the stunning C63 Colchester is very much its own watch. Its case is made from injected carbon and is the lightest CW case so far. The dial is constructed from forged carbon – a substance that’s both super-light and ultra-tough and which has a camouflage look perfect for a Forces watch. The watch head weighs just 38g – the lightest sports watch Christopher Ward has ever released.

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“The quality of the watch reflects the professionalism and excellence of the 21st century Paras” – Mike France


Another first is the retractable crown. Debuting on the C63 Sealander Elite, it’s now making its first appearance in the Military Collection. Something that adds extra comfort and won’t interrupt the graceful lines of the 41mm case. “It was a bit tricky to nail the waterresistance with the carbon case and retractable crown,” says CW’s head of product Adrian Buchmann. “But we got there in the end. And the great thing with carbon is that if you scratch it, it stays black – so always looks smart.” While the construction and materials are something to celebrate, it’s the subtle design touches that strengthen the bond between it and the Paras. Will Brackfield, designer at Christopher Ward, says: “We added the ‘landing’ crosshairs on the dial because they chime with the history of the Parachute Regiment and look pleasingly retro. Then there’s the maroon second hand which reflects the prized maroon beret of the Paras. Alongside the chamfered indexes and ’Trident’ hands – filled with Super-LumiNova® C1 Grade X1 GL – it’s a wonder to behold.”

Like other watches in the Military Collection, you can find the regiment’s logo on the watch’s underside. Though with one crucial – and innovative – difference. “We wanted to integrate the crest while keeping the display back of the watch,” says Will Brackfied. “That’s been achieved with the addition of a ‘coin’ that rests on top of the exhibition back. And you’ll be able to see through the watch via the open ‘lozenges’ on the dial, too.” A watch this technically advanced in its construction deserves a movement that’s both ultra-accurate and able to ride out any knocks it may encounter. “We chose a COSC-certified version of the Sellita SW200,” says Adrian Buchmann. “It’s a 28,800bhz calibre, which gives the seconds hand a smooth sweep – and lets you monitor fractions of a second using the inner-seconds track around the dial.” For Mike France, it all adds up to a watch that continues Christopher Ward’s tradition of paying tribute to ‘the best of the best’ from the UK Armed Forces. “We shared our ideas with the Paras from the outset, and they were instrumental in helping us get the details right,” he says. “It was a huge relief they loved the direction we were taking the watch – and especially its high specifications. To me, the quality of the watch reflects the professionalism and excellence of the 21st century Paras.” A further tribute to the Paras comes in the shape of #tide strap. Not only is it the same shade of maroon you’ll find on the famous beret, but its design is inspired by

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“The ‘landing’ crosshairs chime with the history of the Paras” – WillBrackfield Will Brackfield

the Paras’ belt. Made from recycled ocean plastic, it’s tougher yet more lustrous than a regular NATO. “There’s just no comparison,” says Mike France. “Unlike a NATO, the #tide doesn’t make the watch sit high on your wrist, and because it’s fitted with our quick-release system you can swap it in seconds.” Brought together, the fusion of elevated Swiss engineering, extensive material experimentation and sensitive military styling is not just a fitting tribute to one of the most admired regiments in the world but a sign of Christopher Ward’s ambition and pride in the best of Britain. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t make sense is the price: just £995 for a watch that if it was made by a venerable Swiss brand would be priced many times that. But this, like the ethos behind the watch and the Paras themselves, is another sign the British like to do things differently. Ready to make the leap? The C63 Colchester is available now from christopherward.com Prices from: £995 / $1,130 / €1,185.00


Revolver by The Beatles It’s easy to take the Beatles for granted. Sure they were the dominant cultural force of the 1960s, but well, we’ve all heard Hey Jude enough times, right? But, whether you think the Fabs are the greatest band ever or merely a decent 20th-century pop group, they were not just prolific – 12 albums in seven years – but staggeringly experimental, reinventing their sound with every album. And perhaps the most radical of all is Revolver, released 55 years ago in August 1966. After the pop majesty of Rubber Soul, it would have been easy for the lads to do another collection of classic songs. Instead, they not only tore up the rule book but covered it with lighter fluid and threw it on the fire.

The focus: Beatles Afro art Rome

Revolver is a revelation. All musical life is here. As the Beatles gave up touring, the Abbey Road studio became their canvas, where they could experiment with tape loops and toys like the Fairchild 670 Compressor.

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Eleanor Rigby’s mix of mournful strings with McCartney’s sombre vocals hits you in the gut with the same power half a century ago, while Got To Get You Into My Life is a joyful brass-led tribute to the power of pot. But it’s on tracks like John Lennon’s trippy I’m Only Sleeping and George Harrison’s sitar-dominated Love To You that they let go – mixing unforgettable melodies with reverse tape loops and decidedly un-poppy lyrics. Finally, and most important of all, is Tomorrow Never Knows. While Lennon wrote the lyrics – taken from the Tibetan Book Of The Dead – this is Ringo Starr’s record. His on-the-nose proto-funk drumming – combined with spedup vocal and sound effects – bangs hard and takes you to the heart of the dancefloor. No wonder The Chemical Brothers still play it in their DJ set. George Harrison described Tomorrow Never Knows as “easily the most amazing new thing we’ve ever come up with”. He could have been describing Revolver itself.


The museum

Antwerp is criminally underrated. With an unequalled design pedigree – see the ‘Antwerp Six’ group of fashion designers – it’s just the place for Christopher Ward customers in search of culture. Your main port of call should be the stunning MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) gallery/museum in docklands (‘Het Eilandje’), where you can satisfy your yearning for art, history and photography. When you’ve had your fill, take a trip up to MAS’s Rooftop Panorama – free of charge to visitors – which provides city views and a look at the source of Antwerp’s wealth: the River Scheldt. It’s been the hub of the city’s trade for centuries.

The neighbourhood

Trastevere, Rome

Following a little post-MAS rest at the hotel (don’t feel guilty, you deserve it), head to one of the city’s most exciting restaurants: Umami. Located on a quay by the Scheldt, Umami is famous for its stylish interior, friendly welcome and innovative take on Asian cuisine. If you can, order the ‘Experience’ tasting menu. mas.be; umami-antwerp.be

MAS, Antwerp

Known for its artistic and bohemian atmosphere, Trastevere is characterised by small and charming streets – a contrast to wide avenues of the rest of the city centre. Treat yourself to dinner at Taverna Trilussa, where you’ll find a wide variety of Roman plates (try the baked scamorza cheese with honey) and some of the best pasta anywhere in the city. Need some time to let your food go down before bed? End your day by sipping a drink on San Bartolomeo Island, enjoying the quiet flow of the Tiber.

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The coffee table book

Spray

& display

While the ‘regular’ art world becomes the preserve of oligarchs and hedge-fund managers, street art’s relentless march goes on. What was once seen as graffiti has become the go-to visual art of the flat-white masses – and an easy way for mayors to brighten up previously unloved areas of their city. And some of the most striking street art is being made in Africa. From Cairo to Cape Town, artists of every stripe are transforming walls, buildings and neighbourhoods with incredible murals that take in everything from hyper-realistic wildlife to quasi-religious deities.

Street Art Africa shows a confident continent flexing its artistic muscles

Now some of the best works have been collated in a new book, Street Art Africa, collated and written by South African artist/musician, Cale Waddacor. Featuring 250 artists from 35 countries, with 11 artist profiles, it’s the most comprehensive overview of Africa’s street art scenes yet. And while we might not be able to see all these works in the flesh – though as the world opens up again, it’s certainly possible – the images of Street Art Africa take you deep into the heart of the most exciting continent on earth. Street Art Africa is published by Thames & Hudson, out now

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The poem

Days by Philip Larkin What are days for? Days are where we live. They come, they wake us Time and time over. They are to be happy in: Where can we live but days? Ah, solving that question Brings the priest and the doctor In their long coats Running over the fields.

We reviewed Philip Larkin’s Aubade in late summer of 2020, as its dark, fearful ruminations about his own death seemed to have many parallels with the mindset of a locked-down world coming to terms with the pandemic. This time we consider another Larkin poem, the short but deceptively complicated Days, in which Larkin manages to cover his usual tropes of life, death and the universe in a conversational tone. He opens with the seemingly matter-of-fact question: ‘What are days for?’, which is answered in the same innocent fashion by, ‘Days are where we live’. The answer that ‘They are to be happy in’ – will be viewed with a wonky eye by most Larkin followers especially when observing the closing question of the first stanza – which presages a classic Larkin denouement lurking in the second verse. And sure enough, the child-like catechism of the first verse is immediately replaced by a more cynical, world-weary tone in the second. And when he suggests answering the question of “Where can we live but days?” with the priest and doctor (performing their deathly functions), is he weighing his/our humdrum, medium-low existence against the only alternative? As often with Larkin, ambiguity is all. Words: Mike France

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(Probably) the best value dive-chronometer in the world When you’re 1000m down, you need a watch that’s both ultra-accurate and astonishingly strong. A watch very much like the C60 Elite 1000 in fact. Powered by a Swiss chronometer movement, its 42mm case is made from ultra-light, ultra-tough Grade 2 titanium – and boasts a helium-release valve to protect it on ascents. Even better, it’s now available at a new lower price that might just have you reaching for the oxygen tank.

christopherward.com


Great watch-wearers

Michael Caine They have a word for jewellery in south London: ‘tom’ – short for ‘tomfoolery’. And wearing ‘tom’ has always been a thing among working-class Londoners, a sign that you’ve done alright for yourself. Slip-on Gucci loafers. Sovereign rings. Belcher chains with your name on them. So it should come as no surprise that one of its most famous sons, Michael Caine, is fond of a bit of tom himself. Especially watches. Born in St Olave’s Hospital, Bermondsey, in 1933, Caine – real name Maurice Mickelwhite – grew up in Elephant & Castle, a couple of miles east from the home of that other south London film star, Roger Moore. Caine, who’d trained as an actor before National Service, started his performing career at a small theatre in Horsham, Sussex, in 1953. Over the next decade, he appeared in various productions before moving into TV and film. But it was Zulu – playing upper-class twit Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead – then The Ipcress FIle (1965) and Alifie (1966) that catapulted him to stardom. From the mid-’60s, Caine’s publicity shots featured a selection of watches – adding that touch of flash to his pareddown mod aesthetic. His first notable timepiece was the Accurist Shockmaster, an affordable but classic dress watch with a 21-jewel hand-wound movement.

By Alife, his watch was matching his stature: in the promotional posters, he wears the IWC Ingenieur (ref. 666 AD), which boasted an automatic 8531 calibre, complete with a magnetic-resistant shield. It was held on the wrist with a distinctive ‘beads-of-rice’ Gay Frères bracelet. But his watch-wearing reached its apex in 1968 with the addition of a yellow-gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date’ President’. Appearing regularly over the next decade, Caine wore it on both the iconic ‘President’ bracelet and a leather strap – the latter most notably in 1971’s ‘Geordie western’, Get Carter. Caine’s 36mm President had a textured ‘linen’ dial, a fluted gold bezel and case crafted from 18-carat gold. The watch of choice for actual presidents (Lyndon B. Johnson was the first), CEOs, and assorted international egoists, it was the power watch of the 1970s. And while Caine wore other timepieces, including a Rolex Oysterquartz and an Omega Speedmaster 300 for The Italian Job, he’ll always be associated with the gold Rolex Day-Date – a watch that encapsulates his confidence, acting ability and timeless style. And maybe that 45 unmistakable blond hair of his.


Column

Manufactured grievance The term ‘manufacture’ may be prized among watch-snobs, but in reality it’s a label without meaning, says Ken Kessler When it comes to self-flagellation, the watch industry’s cat-o-nine-tails is a phenomenon called ‘manufacture status’. The first word must be pronounced with a cod-French accent, and the translation is roughly the equivalent of a factory. In this horological application, it means ‘made entirely in-house’, and it separates the wheat from the chaff, the class from the dreck. Or that’s what it’s meant to do. If you want your brand to possess absolute credibility, you have to be ‘manufacture’. In practice, it’s supposed to describe watch companies which make everything themselves, though the description has been relaxed to mean only that the movement is produced in-house to qualify. That’s because there isn’t a single watch company on the planet which literally makes everything within its factory walls … unless you know one that mines its own iron, gold and platinum; breeds cattle, sharks, ostriches and crocodiles for its straps; creates sapphire crystals; refines the lubrication oils; and a few hundred other elements best left to outside specialists. Most of the great watch houses do produce their own movements, but it has never been an indicator of quality, credibility or status simply because the watch industry

doesn’t work that way. It’s exactly like the car industry, which leaves various elements to firms that focus only on specific disciplines. So questions are begged: Is a Ferrari any less desirable because it doesn't produce its own tyres or batteries? Would you say, “No, thanks!” to a Pagani Huayra because the engine is made for it by Mercedes-AMG? No, you would not. If a finger has to be pointed, the blame for the burden of acquiring manufacture status belongs not to the watch companies (who in the main find it comical) but to the watch press, abetted by know-it-all collectors who, five years ago, didn’t know Timex from Tampax. It’s said that a little knowledge is dangerous: by championing manufacture status, the bellowing horde has inflicted unnecessary costs and challenges on an entire industry. Indeed, it baffles anyone who knows anything about the history of watchmaking, or more importantly, understands the industry’s realpolitik: behind the scenes, the brands help each other, collaborate, share costs, vote in blocs on matters of watch fairs, and do anything else that’s good for business. Any bitchy competition is only in

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the minds of enthusiasts desperate for prestige, as in that mid-life crisis challenge: “My watch is cooler than your watch.”

Nicolas Hayek Sr, suggested that this was good for the industry as it would foster not just independence but also creativity. One cannot argue with that, but developing movements and setting up factories takes years, so the matter bounced around the Swiss courts and is, I believe, still under negotiation. In the wake of the Swatch Group’s announcement, smaller companies like Sellita who were producing movements for others suddenly found themselves in demand, while giants like (Citizen) Miyota and Seiko had sufficient capacity to supply movements as well. For numerous brands, however, the only way to go was to make their own movements, even if only managing a percentage of the annual total they required. Breitling, TAG Heuer, Maurice Lacroix and other familiar, established brands joined the select group of companies producing their own calibres. That sudden increase in brands making their own movements, however, didn’t alter the fact that using outside suppliers was nothing to be ashamed of. How so? In the list of the all-time greatest watches, including the most valuable wristwatch ever sold in auction, none are manufacture. While most of these houses refined or modified the movements to suit their needs or standards, the ebauches in the classics were not made in-house. So let’s see which of these you would turn up your nose at, the next time you see one…

Here’s a true story, the names changed to protect the ignorant. At an important press dinner, one of the more noxious hacks was banging on about how Brand A was “true manufacture” and Brand B wasn’t. He regaled those within earshot with his wisdom while Brand B’s representative had to bite her lip because this particular loudmouth was an editor at a national newspaper with the requisite clout. What the schmuck didn't know was not only was Brand A not manufacture in the truest sense, but that Brand B was, and – I kid you not – it actually made the dials for Brand A. Such is the high BS quotient attached to the entire manufacture phenomenon. The only upside to the drive for making one’s own movements is the resultant independence. This was made clear a couple of decades ago when the Swatch Group, then the largest supplier of raw movements to the industry via its ETA/ Valjoux subsidiaries, announced that it would cease selling movements to other companies. All of a sudden, dozens, if not hundreds of watch companies were faced with either finding other sources for movements, or to design and produce their own. In other words, become manufactures in their own right. The thenCEO of the Swatch Group, the late and much-admired

There isn’t a single watch company on the planet which literally makes everything within its factory walls

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Start with the immortal Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, which – along with the Rolex Submariner – defined the modern diving watch. When it appeared in 1953, it was powered by an automatic movement from A. Schild. The original Panerai Radiomirs? Cortebert movements via Rolex, while the revived manually-wound 1990s Panerai Luminors, Marina Militaires and Slytechs were fitted with Unitas calibres. The Mare Nostrum used an ETA 2801-2 with a Dubois-Dépraz chronograph module. Early Cartier Tanks? Jaeger-LeCoultre and European Watch Company movements. The astounding Patek Philippe Ref 1463 chronograph? Inside was a Valjoux 23. The original Breguet Type 20? A Valjoux 22 or 23. Those much-coveted automatic Rolex Daytonas made before 2000? Zenith El Primeros, modified by Rolex. Mention of chronographs is the clarion call for those who don’t judge a brand by manufacture status, because prior to the watch revolution of the 1980s and the birth of the manufacture psychosis, even the most prestigious houses, like the aforementioned Patek Philippe, used outside suppliers. Valjoux, especially with its legendary 72 and variants, powered so many great chronographs that whole websites are needed to list them. Landeron, Lemania, Excelsior Park, Minerva, Venus and others supplied movements for phenomenal chronographs from Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Heuer, Universal Genève, Gallet, and countless others.

So let’s end with the poster child for the anti-manufacture brigade: the ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Cosmograph. Not only did it house a Valjoux 72 calibre – albeit refined by Rolex – the dial came from Stella, the bracelets were made by those doyens of the art, Gay Frères, and it is likely that the hands, glass and rubies came from outside specialists. Rolex made the cases and other parts, and crucially undertook assembly, refinement, regulation and everything else to produce a finished watch. But the movement? Uh-uh. And I doubt that will bother whoever shelled out £15m for Newman’s own. As one veteran told me: “Why try to better what an expert supplier can provide?” Dials, hands, rubies, mainsprings – these are specialised items that do not detract from the authenticity of a watch because they came from an outside source. Do I like my Alpa camera any less because the lens came from Schneider? No. And I adore my Universal Geneve Space-Compax – and the Valjoux 72 inside. If this diatribe hasn’t convinced you that it’s better to judge a watch in its entirety, then I suggest you buy the only watches which meet every criterion for true manufacture status. Buy a Seiko, a Swatch, or a Casio G-Shock. All fine watches, all true manufacture. If that’s what floats your boat.

Valjoux, especially with its legendary 72 and variants, powered many great chronographs

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1m 44.22 seconds

Timespan

The Olympic swimming pool has long been a gold (medal) mine for British swimmers. From Duncan Goodhew to Rebecca Adlington (and not forgetting Ellie Simmonds in the Paralympics), there’s something about the smell of chlorine in the morning that inspires the UK’s best. And at Tokyo’s Olympic pool on July 27th, Maidenhead’s Tom Dean continued this tradition by winning gold in the men’s 200m freestyle – finishing just 0.04secs ahead of British teammate Duncan Scott. The Olympics were held under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic – with Tokyo’s citizens banned from seeing the action. But for Tom Dean, the Coronavirus wasn’t just something that prevented his family from witnessing his victory live, but

something that almost stopped him from competing at all. Tom, 21, caught Covid-19 twice in 2020 – and at one stage, this super-fit swimmer was unable to “walk up the stairs without coughing and wheezing”. He couldn’t train for three weeks during both infections, putting him at a severe disadvantage against his competitors. “The three-week build-up back to training had to be structured to prevent any long-term damage to my heart and lungs, so it was scary,” he said. Despite these setbacks, Dean, a student at Bath University, triumphed. But this was by no means certain during the race: at 50m, he was in third, while teammate Scott – the fastest man in the world during 2020 – was sixth. However, Dean’s determination gave him the gold medal at the death.

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Meanwhile, in the garden of his mum’s house in Maidenhead, 70 of Tom’s friends and family (with several from the local Marlins swimming club) gathered to watch the race – erupting with joy as he won gold. According to his mum: “It was so joyous and full of passion. It was lovely. I spoke to Tom this morning, and he said he watched the video over and over again.” The 200m wasn’t Tom’s only Olympic victory: he also won gold as part of the Team GB 200m freestyle relay team the next day. The first male British swimmer to win two gold Olympic medals at the same games in 113 years. Mental toughness? Coming out top against world-class opposition? There really must be something in the water in Maidenhead.


#GODO

Spelunkers: Incomparable. Indomitable. Unpronounceable Let’s hear it for the ‘spelunkers’. The subterranean explorers of the 1970s who did for caving what Jacques Cousteau did for scuba-diving. And the inspiration behind ‘GMT-explorer’ watches, which provided 24-hour timekeeping for light-starved cavers. Now we’ve resurrected the genre with the new C63 Sealander GMT. Not only does it boast a twin timezone movement, a hi-vis 24-hour hand and a dial that’s as legible as it is beautiful, but, happily, you don’t have to be a spelunker to wear one.

Sealander. Go anywhere, do everything. christopherward.com


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