WHY CHRISTOPHER WARD?
With so many watch brands to choose from it’s a good question. However, if you are interested in luxury Swiss watches, you might want to consider this small English company that has been causing a stir in the global luxury watch industry since 2004.
Discovering they could access the same components and superb manufacturing as many of the Swiss big boys, three friends, Mike France, Chris Ward and Peter Ellis decided they would turn the industry’s distribution model on its head and launch the world’s first online only luxury watch brand with a simple aim, “…to put premium watches within the reach of everyone.”
More than ten years on, the Christopher Ward brand has become synonymous with creating superb timepieces at remarkable prices. So how does David take on and beat the Goliaths of the luxury watch industry?
- Our watches are all made in Switzerland – the universally acknowledged home of fine watchmaking.
- We have a unique business model that puts the customer directly in touch with the watchmaker and takes out all the expensive middlemen.
- We apply fair margins to our cost prices, and we’re open about that, resulting in honest pricing.
- The sort of customer care you may have thought had vanished in the last century but which is alive and well at Christopher Ward and under-pinned by our industry-leading 60:60 Guarantee.
MADE IN SWITZERLAND
We’re an English company with our HQ in Maidenhead, Berkshire, so it’s perhaps no surprise that our watch designs are heavily influenced by English narratives and our aesthetics are often discreet and understated in that quintessentially English way. But to ensure a level of quality that it’s just not possible to procure by manufacturing in Britain, all our watches are made in Switzerland under the auspices of our own workshop in Biel/Bienne, where we count Omega, ETA and Rolex as neighbours.
It’s simple. The Swiss have the best watchmaking infrastructure in the world which trains, develops and attracts the very best watchmakers in the world. We are very fortunate to have some of the finest young watchmakers in Switzerland working for us, and we give them the freedom to craft remarkable innovations (like the development of our own in-house movement, Calibre SH21, launched in 2014). For these guys nothing is too much trouble to ensure our watches consistently reach the highest quality levels.
UNIQUE BUSINESS MODEL
We turned the traditional luxury watch distribution model on its head by deciding to handle the direct selling of our own watches, rather than relying on third party retailers. By launching online with no cost of running stores we were able to immediately halve the selling prices of our watches compared to other luxury watch brands. However, we didn’t stop there.
There’s no doubt that paying celebrities to promote a brand is the fastest way to grow sales. It’s also extremely expensive and the enormous costs involved are passed on to the customer in higher selling prices.
We took the view that there’s a growing constituency of well-informed people who understand this and who don’t need and, moreover, don’t want the endorsement of an arbitrary yet expensive face trying to sell them a watch, preferring instead to do their own research, often online, before making their decision. So, if you see someone like Brad Pitt or Nicole Kidman wearing a Christopher Ward watch (and you’d be surprised just how many celebs own a CW) you can at least have the satisfaction that they paid for it themselves!
Well, not in the traditional way at least. You won’t see Christopher Ward on an F1 car or Premiership football shirt anytime soon – although to date we have been approached by two of the former and five of the latter- because the costs are extraordinary. However, we introduced our Christopher Ward Challenger Programme in 2013 to offer support to young people with world-class potential to achieve their goals against the odds, but who are desperately in need of funding – against the world, against all odds, as it were. This chimes with our own mission to take on and beat the big Swiss brands, has huge positive impact for the Challengers, and we are proud to have already had several world champions including Olympians, Sam Brearey yachstman, skeeter Amber Hill, rower Will Satch and wheelchair athlete Sammi Kinghorn.
FAIR MARGINS, HONEST PRICING
Again, it’s a simple philosophy that informs our approach to pricing our Swiss watches. Whatever the cost price of the watch, we multiply this up to 3 times and that is the selling price, including VAT. This gives us just enough to make a fair margin after covering the running costs of the business.
Our competitors may start with a similar cost price but that’s where the similarity ends. Their overheads, including those celebrity endorsements and Formula 1 sponsorships, aren’t small. They then sell to the distributor at a price which includes enough margin to make a profit after taking those big overheads into account. Of course, the distributor has big overheads too, especially as luxury goods tend to be sold from very expensive retail premises on the world’s most expensive High Streets – and they, of course, need to make a profit too. This usually means the price they paid the watch company needs to be doubled at least…all financed from the pocket of the customer.
This means a watch of the same quality and cost as a Christopher Ward, but from a brand using the traditional wholesale model, will usually be sold to you at between 7 and 12 times the cost price compared to our x3.
We aren’t naive and understand the world of branding and the costs that can be associated with creating “brand halos” but in a world that is increasingly able to see beyond the logo we are proud to be a pioneer in the democratization of luxury watches. Vive la Revolution!
UNRIVALLED CUSTOMER CARE
We have an unashamedly old-fashioned approach to customer service that eschews platitudes and relies on respect, courtesy and common sense. It’s borne of an acknowledgement that our success is entirely dependent on your satisfaction and delight. And that’s what we aim for every time.
We introduced our famous 60:60 Guarantee so you can buy with complete confidence and our approach to value extends to our service and repairs programme which will keep your Christopher Ward watch in tip top condition during a lifetime of precision timekeeping.
When we get things wrong we aim to put them right quickly with the minimum of fuss and hassle for you. And if ever you are unhappy or frustrated with our service (or delighted and wanting to share the love) you can contact one of the founders of the business at the email addresses below and be sure one or more of them will help you out.