THREE MEN IN A BOAT
The Christopher Ward luxury watch company was founded on a boat on the River Thames in 2004 by Mike France, Chris Ward and Peter Ellis. Right from the start the business purpose has always been about finding a way for everyone to enjoy the truly visceral pleasure derived from owning and wearing a premium quality Swiss made watch, especially one where the value for money is without question
VIVE LA REVOLUTION!
Having learned from insiders in the Swiss watch industry just how the industry pricing model works with much of the purchase price of a typical luxury Swiss watch being made up of marketing overheads, celebrity endorsements, sponsorships and a pre-internet age distribution model, the three friends set out on a mission to turn the industry on its head and create a revolution in watchmaking.
We had a single, simple aim: To put premium grade watches within the reach of everyone.
Details of how this was turned into a business model that challenged the world of luxury watchmaking can be read about in WHY CHRISTOPHER WARD?
D-DAY JUNE 4TH 2005
Having spent the best part of a year designing the first two watches, the C5 Malvern Automatic and C3 Malvern Chronograph, we launched these soon to become classics on www.christopherward.co.uk onto an unsuspecting world in June 2005.
THE POWER OF THE INTERNET
After a slow start, sales started ticking up and we suddenly found ourselves sending our luxury watches to all parts of the world. In all honesty we had no idea why until in December of 2005 a Dutch guy, Hans Van Hoogstraten, called us to ask if we would be happy for him to set up a forum dedicated to our fledgling brand. Curious as to why he might want to do this, Hans explained he had bought one of our watches after reading about us on Timezone.com, at the time, the world’s largest watch forum at the time – and in so doing had become an instant fan??
Hans explained that an Australian professor, Dave Malone, had seen a British based ad in for our C5 Malvern Automatic and bought one of them with the intention of exposing us on Timezone for the fraudsters we clearly were, as it was impossible we could be selling a luxury Swiss watch with such a high specification at such a low price.
To his eternal credit (and our good fortune) Dave, who knows a thing or two about watches, was bowled over by what he received and instead of posting an expose, posted a eulogy which sparked a frenzy of interest, hence those sales and the frenzy of fans such as Hans. It seems Christopher Ward was being talked about more than Rolex as dozens of members started posting positive comments about their CW purchases.
Michael Sandler, who was then the moderator of the Timezone forum, but of whom we had no knowledge (we didn’t even know Timezone existed!!), decided we must be paying for this incredible publicity and started to ban members, Hans being one of them. Of course, nothing was further from the truth and Hans, incensed with his treatment, made that call to us. From a handful of members in early 2006, www.christopherwardforum.com has become one of the best watch forums in the world with thousands of members and tens of thousands of posts. It has always been editorially independent but in 2014 we bought the forum from Hans, who wanted to get on with the rest of his life(!) although we still insist on its editorial independence and we do not influence its content in any way.
Now with social media such a large and important part of many people’s lives it’s easy to forget how lucky we were that our “word of mouth” approach to marketing received such an early turbo-charge thanks to Dave and Hans. Now in 2015 the forum and social media live in parallel as two of the key platforms in our customer engagement success.
SYNERGIES HORLOGÈRES & CALIBRE SH21
When Jörg Bader, the founder of Synergies Horlogères, came into our lives in 2008 we immediately understood this was another huge piece of good fortune. Born in Grenchen, Switzerland and steeped in watchmaking his entire life (his father was a watchmaker) Jörg had recently started a new watchmaking business in Biel/Bienne and was looking for like-minded brands to work with. In Christopher Ward he found a partner with a different and refreshing philosophy to any watch brand he had ever known. He was excited by the challenge and the opportunity and after taking on Johannes Jahnke, one of the most talented young watchmakers in the world, it wasn’t long before our two companies were working on pioneering projects such as the JJ Calibres and then in 2009/10, the ground-breaking, entirely in-house designed and developed, Calibre SH21 which was launched, once again to an astonished industry, in July 2014.
CW & SH MERGE
On the day of the Calibre SH21 launch we also announced a merger between our two companies, creating in the process the world’s first truly vertical, direct to the consumer, luxury watch brand. It was the biggest day in our short history and the cornerstone for the next stage of our story which promises to be even more exciting!
In May 2015, Christopher Ward achieved the position of 77 in the inaugural Sunday Times BT Business SME Export Track 100. We are the only British watch brand to feature in this ranking of the top 100 SME exporters.