Romancing the stars – Liberating the moonphase complication is the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

 

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Romancing the stars – Liberating the moonphase complication is the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Editor’s note: Christopher Ward generously loaned us the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow that we are reviewing today. Released last year to commemorate the moon landing in 1969, it is very different to any moonphase watch in its price segment. We spent about a fortnight wearing it, and here’s our honest hands-on review that details where it sits amongst a sky of other moonphase watches, our first impressions and on-the-wrist experience. Please also note that the following opinion is solely ours, this is neither a sponsored post nor were we paid anything for it.

The Celestial Beauty 

The moon shines with its eternal glow, casting its light on the joyous hearts, and its shadow on the moments of internal unrest. In the midst of the romanticism and beauty that this ethereal entity stands for, we welcome the raging power of the moonphase complication on the dial of the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow. 

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to,” said the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Carl Sandburg.

One of the best features about the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow for me personally was the presence of large moons on the dial that took centre stage. I am someone who likes to just spend time now and then, admiring what’s on my wrist. And in these moments a watch complication like a moonphase shines through.

Is it practical? Not really. Does it evoke emotions? Absolutely. And this specific execution by Christopher Ward doesn’t hide this complication behind the dial like most other watches; it instead liberates it free from a tiny aperture and lets it rule the dial and my musings.

The Defining Key

It has indeed been refreshing to see a brand treat this moonphase complication not merely as an added feature on the dial, but rather as the centre of attraction.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

At the centre of the watch are two lume covered 3D moons set on a rotating disk beneath the dial, serenaded by lume covered stars. This poetical composition is framed by lumed hour markers and a peripheral date ring. The dial is celestial beauty at its best.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

C1 Moonglow next to C65 Trident Automatic

Romancing The Stars 

There is a quote by Mehmet Murat ildan, a contemporary Turkish playwright and novelist, that goes as follows: “If there is moonlight outside, don’t stay inside! If there is candle inside, don’t stay outside! Moments of romanticism are too valuable to be missed!”. The Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow is a romantic watch, one that brings the above notion of romanticism right to the wrist.

Over the course of the fortnight that we had this watch for, whenever I was in a light-hearted mood I found myself grabbing this watch and going on with my day.

I know that many don’t revere this watch complication. Cynics and critics will always be there, especially when it comes to moonphase complications on watches, arguing it is a useless complication. Well, reality check, with cellphones and wearable tech, so is a watch quite frankly. But to me the world of horology is not about logic of the brain but rather the sentiments of the heart. Of-course this doesn’t stand true for those who wear watches to impress others. They should only stick to one of the models of certain brands that are impossible to buy, ones that are available at inflatable prices for inflated egos.

But in this irrational world of emotions and romanticism, the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow with its two moons and intense lume delivers. The watch manages to create moments of romanticism (that) are too valuable to be missed.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

C1 Moonglow against the shimmering night lights

The Internal Versions

CW offers this particular layout of two large moons only on the C1 Moonglow option; and the only way to customise it is to pair it with the Milanese mesh strap.

 ©Courtesy © 2016 Christopher Ward (London) Ltd.

But if this hard-core display of moon love is too much for you, the brand also has other moonphase watches in its current catalogue. All these options — including a worldtimer option — feature the same C1 Malvern case body design that’s short and stout, and fits perfectly on my roughly 16 cm wrist. 

In regards to the other moonphase options, CW does offer the C1 Moonphase that comes in either blue or white dial options, with the choice of blue or black cordovan leather straps or Milanese bracelets. These retails for a cheaper $2150 AUD (on leather), but for my money I would go with the Moonglow that retails for a slightly higher $2695 AUD (again on leather). 

 ©Courtesy © 2016 Christopher Ward (London) Ltd.

All of these watches feature the same movement, Calibre JJ04. This movement is a part of the family developed by Johannes Jahnke for CW. Jahnke is Christopher Ward’s master watchmaker — who now also works as director of development at Sellita, hence the movement in Moonglow is a combination of in-house module on top of a Sellita base — and there are currently four JJ Calibres in this family: JJ01, a jumping-hour module; JJ02, a single-pusher chronograph; JJ03, a worldtimer; and JJ04, the moonphase.

Screenshots from the CW website about the movement & Johannes Jahnke

The Unboxing 

The unboxing and reveal were as expected, in that they were the same as our previous unboxing review of the C65 Trident Automatic that you can read here. I appreciate that the packing and box/documents for both these watches are exactly the same; it would have been a bit weird for me if the more expensive watch had a different packaging, as I feel having a uniform appeal is better. Also, this time we noticed an aspect of the boxes that we missed before, and that is the use of two small magnets on the end of the wooden box that held on firmly to the outer black box cover. 

Another thing to note is that in my previous unboxing review I had mentioned how the watch came via Germany and Japan and took over a week to get to Sydney from UK. In this instance, they used the express shipping option and it arrived within four days. I am simply pointing it out to express my gratitude and also to inform our readers that if you choose the express shipping option, despite the issues with Covid-19 and such, CW watches have the potential to ship pretty fast. 

The First Impressions 

I wasn’t as impressed by the watch when I first opened the (eco-friendly CW presentation) case as I am now after having it for two weeks. This fascination also happened to be perchance; I had worn this for a quick supermarket run, and as I entered the dark carpark, the watch literally lit up! It reminded me of my childhood bedroom with glow-in-the-dark stickers plastered in my ceiling.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Looking at the lume parked inside the carpark was a spot of revelation; yes, I do love moonphase watches, and when they come in such a bold avatar, they are hard to resist. Just as a side note, prior to this, my favourite option was the Cartier Drive Moonphase. The Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow is definitely tied up for the top spot, and maybe even inching a little bit towards the numero uno position in my taste and opinion. 

The Second, Third, Fourth… Impressions

The other thing I noticed was the geometry and dimensions of the watch on my wrist. I recently reviewed the Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic that while being another great looking bargain of a watch, it wore slightly big on my wrists.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

C1 Moonglow next to the similar diameter C65 Trident

I am mentioning this because in terms of dimensions, they are very similar: the C65 is 41mm in diameter and 11.55mm in thickness, while the C1 measures at 40.5mm diameter and 12.35mm thickness.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

But the way the moonphase has been executed, along with the dial being divided into four-segments, the dial makes the face appear smaller.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Dial with various segments

And the use of a straight, monolithic appearing case and long but widely tapered lugs makes the watch wear a lot more dressier and smaller.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The geometric proportions are further aided by the presence of short indices and hour markers. The hour and minute hands seem chopped off, and appear to be extensions of these short hour markers.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The perception of depth is another factor that makes this watch look perfect for my wrist size; going outwards inward, following the grained black peripheral Arabic numerated date ring is the sunken and contrasting in grey-white ring that features the rotating red date marker. Worthwhile to note here that this sunken ring is in-filled with luminous material and if you look at the lume shots, it appears to be lit like an arena marker ring that encompasses two gladiator moons that are battling for prominence. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Then raised again is the grained black inner ring for minute markers and indices, which is slightly broader than the outer ring. Following that is the central cut-out that showcases the sunken rotating ring with 3D moons. Half covering one of these moons is a smoked cloud shaped screen. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Continuing this depth perception on to the display case-back, CW’s Malvern ‘light catcher’ watch case features a sloped brushed surface reminiscent of the circus arenas where daredevil bikers used to spin around in a sloping ring cage.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

This sloped surface is broad enough to nicely frame the JJ04 movement, and there is something wonderful about not having the movement extend to the edges of the case-back. I understand this geometric play may have been unintentional as the movement may not be wide enough to cover the entirely of the case-back, but it does elevate the charm of the watch aesthetically. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

There is so much play of surfaces, geometry and depth going on, and that further elevates this particular offering into a class of its own. 

Painting the Landscape 

Usually Christopher Ward’s offerings are cheaper, like the C65 Trident Automatic for around the 1K AUD mark, and in that price-range the brand has become somewhat unbeatable. But the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow retails for a substantially higher $2695 AUD. It’s an excellent offering, no doubt, but does it fair at that price?

In my humble opinion, yes, it does. But don’t just take my word for it. Below I have listed a few options that I felt competed best with it, and you are welcome to draw your own conclusions. 

  • Hermès: The first option has to be the GPHG winning Arceau L’Heure De La Lune. Form following function, the watch dial is designed around the idea of the moon and stars telling the time. On principle the Hermès option is the reverse of C1, as the moons remain stagnant while the central disc that powers the time and date complications rotates. 
    • Meteorite or Aventurine dials (2019 versions)
    • White gold
    • 43mm diameter, 13.27mm thickness
    • 22mm strap lug / inter-horn width
    • Hermès Manufacture H1837 automatic movement
    • 28 jewels base with 14 jewels in the moonphase module, 4Hz frequency and 45-hour power reserve
    • 30m water-resistance
    • Limited edition, $26,000 CHF in 2019
    • Swiss Made
    • Way more artistic than any other moonphase watch I have seen. There is also the Patek Philippe 6102 Celestial Moon Age which I am not going to detail here, but let me just say that if finances were not an issue, it is simply out of this world.

Arceau L’heure de la lune aventurine close up © Joël Von Allmen
Courtesy © Hermès 2020. All rights reserved.

  • Glycine: The Combat 6 Moonphase is perhaps the cheapest Swiss made moon phase watch in the market today. It’s got a great lineage and heritage backing it, but the rather commonly seen 6’o clock small moonphase aperture doesn’t evoke the same sense of romanticism as the C1 Moonglow.
    • Sun-ray finished matte black, blue, grey (anthracite) and white colour dials
    • Stainless steel case 
    • 40mm diameter, 12.2mm thickness
    • 22m strap lug / inter-horn width
    • Glycine GL280 calibre (a modified Sellita SW280) automatic movement 
    • 26 jewels, 4Hz frequency and 38-hour power reserve
    • 50m water-resistance
    • Normal production, $349 USD on Jomashop, retail price $1650 USD
    • Swiss Made 
    • The cheapest possible trustworthy option I can think of 
  • BALL: Trainmaster Moonphase, just like the C1 Moonglow, is an excellent offering. The complication is at the centre of the dial here, beautifully framed by stamped radiating guilloche pattern. The lume shots — with the rather different use of Swiss-made tritium gas tubes — are usually excellent, especially the contrast between the yellow of the moon and green-blue lume of the hour markers — barring the 12’o clock marker — and hour/minute hands. Unlike options that I know of, this design only makes use of one moon display instead of two, and a black disc is used to move over the stationary moon. In this comparisons list, in my humble opinion, the BALL option comes closest to challenging the C1 Moonglow, both aesthetically and price wise.
    • Sun-ray pattern textured silver, blue and black dials
    • Stainless steel case 
    • 40mm diameter, 14.55mm thickness
    • BALL RR1801 calibre (version of ETA 2836-2) automatic movement
    • 25 jewels, 4Hz frequency and 38-hour power reserve
    • 50m water-resistance
    • Appears to be discontinued on their online store, but was around ~$2300 USD at the time of launch, and can be found on Jomashop for $1712 USD
    • Swiss Made 
    • Traditional looking dress watch but with a dash of quirkiness 
  • Longines: Master Collection Moonphase ref. L2.909.4.92.0 is one of many affordable moonphase watches from the brand. 
    • Sun-ray finished blue dial
    • Stainless steel case 
    • 40mm diameter, odd 21m strap lug / inter-horn width
    • L899 calibre (base ETA A31.L91) automatic movement
    • 21 jewels, 3.5Hz frequency and impressive 64-hour power reserve
    • Only 30m water-resistance
    • Normal production, $3425 AUD on website
    • Swiss Made 
    • Doesn’t rock for me, too similar to JLC, Frederique Constant and other offerings, but that said, still a very handsome watch and reasonably priced too
  • Raymond Weil: Maestro Moon Phase ref. 2239-STC-00509 is very similar to the above Longines option but its execution with a mix of surfaces is commendable. At the retail price of $2250 AU, it is also a much cheaper but similar looking option compared to Longines or Frederique Constant options that all look very much alike, while the Raymond Weil stands out.
    • Multi-textures finished galvanic dark blue dial, feat. a wave-like motif in the centre, an aperture moon phase at 6’o clock, and peripheral concentric circles 
    • Stainless steel case
    • 40mm diameter, 9.8mm thickness 
    • R4280 calibre — base SW280-1, similar to the Glycine option above — automatic movement
    • 26 jewels, 4Hz frequency and 38-hour power reserve
    • 50m water-resistance
    • Normal production, currently unavailable on website but other dial options are $2250 AUD
    • Swiss Made 
    • When it comes to traditional dress watches with 6’o clock moonphase locations, in this price category the Raymond Weil option is my favourite. 
  • Christopher Ward: the watch in hand, the watch of the hour.
    • Multi-layered and zoned black monochromatic dial
    • Stainless steel case 
    • 40.5mm diameter, 12.35mm thickness and 48.55mm lug-width
    • Comfortable 20m strap lug / inter-horn width
    • JJ04 calibre — base Sellita SW220 base, similar to ETA 2836 of the BALL offering, but is fitted with an in-house lunar module — automatic movement offering +/-20 sec p/day accuracy. JJ04 modifies the Sellita SW220 by replacing the date wheel and the spring-loading assembly with four further wheels to drive the moon disc, and adding two more for the setting mechanism. Some moonphase complications transition once per day, while the JJ04 offers a smooth perpetual action of the moon and if kept wound, Calibre JJ04 will remain accurate to a day every 128 years
    • 26 jewels, 4Hz frequency and 38-hour power reserve
    • Only 30m water-resistance
    • Normal production, $2695 AUD on website with strap, or $2775 AUD on bracelet (with a $10 fee for re-sizing the latter)
    • Swiss Made 
    • Unique dial layout, excellent use of lume, industry disrupting 5-year warranty and 60-days return policy

Christopher Ward Moonglow Hands On Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

C1 Moonglow next to a Glashutte offering

My Two Cents 

As always is the case when we have a watch for extended periods of time, and we actually study it rather than copy/pasting from press releases, that we begin to notice a few details that seem to differ from the finesse presented in any brand’s photoshopped images. I have listed these below, though quite frankly, I would recommend this watch even if these weren’t fixed. In addition, I also list factors I believe make this watch stand apart from the crowd.

Branding on the Buckle 

The watch thankfully comes with a deployant buckle option, which is a marine-grade stainless steel in-house Bader deployant with ‘Christopher Ward’ engraving on the underside. It’s your basic (and comfortable) Omega style clasp and I found it easy to use and wear.

The only thing I would change is add, or rather include, a debossed/embossed/engraved CW logo on it, as without any marking, its brushed surface looks too plain and inexpensive to me. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The Moonphase Dividing Screen

Part of the C1 Grand Malvern premium dress watch line, the C1 Moonglow has got a good dose of dressy elegance. The use of smoked glass in the middle to separate the moons however takes away the premium feel a little bit. Honestly, I don’t have a recommendation — except maybe giving it Perrellet Moon Phase watch style look with an engraved lower portion — here in terms of what they could have done. I know that I like the concept and also its opaqueness; no issues there in regards to say should it have been darker or not. But the feel of it looks a bit non-elegant if I dare say. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

See, back in my architecture days, we used to work on a lot of design models, and one of the many materials I frequently used was acrylic. The way the smoked glass is cut and executed, it reminds me of that, but in a way, architecture models are made. They are not luxury models and feel as such. The same feeling comes when I look at this smoked glass, and maybe that’s just me because I have an association with it. 

The Power Reserve & Water-resistance 

We have already placed this watch in context with others above, and while in the majority of the aspects CW C1 is a very good option, a low 38-hour power reserve kind of drags it behind. If they could increase the power reserve and get it in the ballpark of the Longines option, they would be ruffling some major feathers. 

Also, most of the options we looked at had a 50m water-resistance, and I wouldn’t personally mind owning a watch that I am not afraid to wear while I am simply washing my hands. 

The base SW200-1 doesn’t allow CW to expand the power reserve

The Crown 

Nothing wrong, I like the shape and finish of the crown, and the fact that it is embossed with the Christopher Ward twin flag motif logo. It is also easy to use.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

What I feel is missing is uniformity – the crown on the C65 Trident felt more decorated and had a different treatment compared to the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow’s version. For sake of establishing a more homogeneous look, I would like to see all their watches with the same crown treatment, kind of like a running defining touch. This is just a personal preference though, and shouldn’t really affect what you would like to see or not see. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Other than that, I couldn’t understand why CW would choose to incorporate a ‘push-down’ crown on a 30m water-resistant watch but omit this feature on their 150m water-resistant C65 Trident?

The Stars 

I like that they envelop the moon, but they need to have more edges than five, as they appear a bit cartoonish when I really zoom in. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The Lume 

This is the definitive feature of the watch, and as such is subject to scrutiny because the success of a ‘moonglow’ watch purely depends on how well it actually glows. The verdict here is mostly positive, as I mentioned earlier that my love affair with this watch began after I saw the lume on it.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

But that said, it’s not perfect. 

For starters, the Grade X1 GL C1 Super-LumiNova® coating that brought about the lume needs to stay for longer. The moons and the stars get an excellent glow quickly under light but the stars fade away as quickly. Next, the outer date ring needs more lume, way more lume to match the levels of the moon and hands and markers.

The Sky Full of Endless Charm 

On a dial like this, it is hard to not refer to Star Wars; the hands with their lume remind me of lightsabers, working in tandem to oppose any negative force. After spending time with this watch, there are a fair few aspects that I have enjoyed, and overtime learnt to appreciate even more. 

The Red 

The watch is pretty monochromatic toned, with blacks, grey and whites ruling its canvas. The addition of red to the peripheral sunken date marker and the second’s hand tip is an excellent contrast providing device that brings about that sense of quirkiness I was talking about earlier with the BALL example.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow on paper is very formal and dressy, but the use of red brings in character, and while I appreciate that the use of it is restrained, I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of it, perhaps change all text — including the notorious branding at 9’o clock but excluding the date numerals — from white to red.

It’s a simple move, but I reckon it will add a bit more spark to the overall dial. I also wouldn’t mind having a very small counterweight to the second’s hand in the form of a red circle outline with lume in-filled. This way the red circle subtly matches the second’s hand tip and the lume in-fill will help to see this second’s hand in the lume shots as it completely disappears otherwise. Anyway, I digress; these are all design ideas stemming from my architectural studies and given Christopher Ward has designed an exceptional timepiece, I will leave it to them to introduce more of the colour red if they should choose to. 

The Legibility 

I must admit I wasn’t expecting a very legible day-time watch, that is when the lume isn’t triggered on. I felt with a peripheral date window, a smoky glass, two large moons, the watch would not be legible enough.

Proving me wrong, it ended up being as legible as the C65 Trident, as the tip of the second’s hand along with the brushed, polished and curved steel hands and the raised applied markers worked wonders.

The Dimensions

I have already talked about how I liked the geometry and dimensions of the watch case as a package, so I won’t go into again, except to say that as weird as this analogy may seem to you, the entire time I was wearing this watch I pictured it as the Mike Tyson of watches: it’s got a short, stout characteristic to it, feels solid and tough, while with skill manages to out-beat its competition. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

C1 next to C65

Adding to these perfect proportions is the scalloped underside that features contrasting surfaces, with both flanks being curved or should I say dug into to create recessed concave trenches on the underside.

This not only helps the case to bounce off light impressively but also makes the watch a fair bit more comfortable to wear. 

The Case-back

I am glad to note that the watch has a display case-back for several reasons: one, the romantic moonphase is brilliantly complemented by a decorated movement; two, it showcases the upcoming brand’s technological prowess that can challenge any ancient manufacturer; and third, it’s purdy

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The half in-house, half-bespoke movement features a diamond-like carbon (DLC) finished rotor with twin-flag engravings that is framed by an external exhibition backplate with a unique engraved serial number.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

The Versatility 

I have always associated moonphase watches with formal wear, or at least more dressy occasions. To my surprise I found myself going for this watch even when I was just lounging about or going to the mall.

I figured there were three reasons for it: one, on the leather deployant buckle combo it is a breeze to wear, comfortable and no fuss; two, the big moons actually add a youthful charm to it, rather than the matured look of yellow moon on a blue disc; and three, whenever there was a perceived chance of going from daylight to shade, I wanted to wear this to witness that transition. In fact, just for those fleeting moments of joy when the moons come alive in shade, I would recommend this. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

In terms of pairing this with daily wear clothes, it does feel best at home next to a suit. But that said, I even wore it with thongs — now now, don’t smirk, thongs as in Australian for slippers/sandals — and shorts and casual shirts for a walk out and about and somehow it didn’t feel out of place. 

I would say the watch is a wrist wear embodiment of casual Friday smart-wear dress code. 

Test-drive Results 

On Wrist Performance 

Unlike the C65 Trident, the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow didn’t take long to wear in; it wore like second skin from the start. Compared to the C65 Trident, it also features a lot more polished and shiny surfaces — that were a pain to photograph according to our photographer — and while I liked that, I understand some people may frown upon that. 

Infographic Performance

For a watch that I initially perceived based on marketing images to be solely a dress watch ended up being a pretty good allrounder that also faired well on our Infographics test performance.

Keyboard Performance

I spend most of my working time typing, so a watch’s performance against the edge of the inner wrist and the table is always a vital check.

In this case, when I was typing with it, there was not a single problem, whatsoever. Just so you know the buckle would scratch easy but that’s true for any steel deployant buckle. I remember that this was a problem area with the C65 Trident, and unlike the latter, I was able to wear this watch through whatever the days threw at me without taking it off frequently. 

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It

If you ask me, this is the perfect moonphase watch in the price bracket that I am happy to recommend to anyone and everyone, including myself. For under 3k AUD, a moonphase rarely gets better than this.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Versatile and bursting with romanticism, the C1 Moonglow is a great, everyday watch, that can be easily dressed up or down. While the C65 Trident felt like an outdoors watch, this felt like an indoors watch. Elegant, sophisticated with a splash of bright fun, it is a decent conversation starter.

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

Wrapping this up is another saying by Carl Sandburg, the American poet who we quoted at the beginning of the review that goes: “The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbour and city on silent haunches and then moves on”.

On the dial of the C1 Moonglow, the lume shines on two moons. For a little while under the shade, the brightness sits looking over the night sky and stars on silent curves of the smoked screen, and then moves on, leaving the wearer under an enchanting spell. 

To find out more about the Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow and other Christopher Ward watches, please head to their website here. All images are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It, unless otherwise stated. We would again like to thank Christopher Ward for sending us this watch to review.

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