Limited to just 500 numbered pieces, the Chr. Ward C7 Italian Racing Red Chronometer will try to replicate the success of the last year’s C7IRR model that (as the British brand claims in their press release) was sold out in a matter of weeks. Priced well below the $1000 mark and featuring a high-end Swiss quartz movement, it is almost destined to succeed.
However, this is not a re-issue of the original timekeeper. If you compare the new version to the one that was delivered to three hundreds of customers last year, you will immediately notice that the dial layout is slightly different with the new watch featuring a more symmetrical face, a lot smaller date aperture and a lot more Superluminova covering its main elements (for example, the Arabic numerals that were influenced by Tag Heuer chronographs finally feature enough luminous compound to light a small room).
The color scheme is also a little bit more different. Although one of the central chronograph seconds hands almost makes my eyes bleed with its green color (this is probably something idiosyncratic since the combination of red and green reminds me of Soviet-inspired national flag of Belarus: the last dictatorship of Europe that turns into a European North Korea with an alarming speed, but nobody gives a damn about it), the new color combination is a lot more interesting than the original one that featured a more mundane combo of red and polished steel.
The mechanism that powers the watch is, on the other hand, light years more advanced than the Ronda 3540.D that animated the original C7 Rapide that the previous C7IRR was based on. The new version features a lot more expensive ETA 251.233 Thermoline thermo-compensated quartz movement: the kind of calibers that power quartz versions of Breitlings. Officially certified by COSC as a chronometer, the mechanism offers a nice combination of high quality and relative affordability.
Beating at a frequency of 32,768 Hz and practically ignoring sharp drops and rises in temperature, the mechanism offers you an almost insane accuracy of plus/minus 5-10 seconds per year: something that will be appreciated by those living in countries that finally abolished Daylight Saving Time switching and don’t have to correct their watches twice a year.
As usual, I feel compelled to warn you that this is a big watch. Yes, by today’s standards its size of 42 millimeters in diameter doesn’t look particularly intimidating, but you must understand that even on a normal wrist this beast will take a lot of space covering basically all its width.
Trying one on your own wrist before ordering one is almost impossible since the brand sells its timekeepers only online. However, they have a handy “no questions asked” 60 days return policy where you can either get a full refund or order a different model instead.
As you can see on the photos, the watch is supplied in three versions that differ only with the kind of straps that secure the timekeeper on your wrist. While the one on stainless steel bracelet looks the most practical among the three, it the version on Toro Bravo leather strap with Bader deployment clasp that makes it shine. Given the fact that at $825 the latter is $74 less expensive than the former, the choice is almost obvious.
Photos: Christopher Ward
Build quality: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5
Chr. Ward C7 Italian Racing Red Chronometer specification
Price: $899 (stainless steel bracelet) / $825 (rubber band or leather strap)
Movement: Quartz, caliber ETA 251.233, COSC-certified chronometer, Thermoline family, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 27
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, 1/10th seconds chronograph
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 10.70 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Dial: Italian Racing Red
Hour markers: White
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet / black rubber / Toro Bravo leather strap with Bader deployment clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective