top of page

Designing a watch with Christopher Ward


For years the Horological Society of Utah has been looking for opportunities to create our own watch. When I learned that Christopher Ward is an industry leader of bespoke projects, I was thrilled, and immediately alerted our creative committee. We got to work right away in coming up with potential collaboration ideas.


We discussed several models as possibilities, but landed on the 40mm stainless steel Twelve. It is Christopher Ward's best-selling model, and for good reason. The size fits most wrists, the quality is real, and easily noticeable. But most importantly it is attainable from a price perspective.


Admittedly, my initial thoughts were a little grandiose, and didn't quite have the everyday watch collector in mind. I mocked up semi-precious stone dials, black DLC cases with sapphire dials, and more. I started with extremes.


After some discussions with Peter France, the Business Development Manager at Christopher Ward, I learned the various design boundaries of what is realistic for a low number custom project.


The Twelve is known for its lovely twin flag repeating dial texture. It is subtle from across the room, but highly dynamic up close. I wanted a similar experience with our Society Twelve.


Utah's nickname is 'The Beehive State.' So I designed a glossy black dial (a color not currently found in the 40mm Twelve lineup) with a raised honeycomb texture. A subtle celebration of our state nickname. I think this feels 'at home' in the current Twelve lineup, but at the same time is distinctive to Utah. It is understated from across a room, but intricate from arms length. Very similar in experience to a standard production version of the Twelve.



The hidden meaning doesn't end with the dial texture. I placed a honeycomb yellow marker at the 45 position on the chapter ring. This is in reference to Utah becoming the 45th state to join the United States in 1896. Like the dial, this detail isn't noticeable at first glance, but becomes noticeable upon closer inspection. I took the same honeycomb yellow color and placed it on the numbers in the dial-matching date wheel.


It was important to me that the 'star of the show' be the dial. So no traditional dial text is present. No water resistance designation, automatic lettering, or even HSU branding. The dial is meant to be balanced, simple, and clean. I think the dimensional applied markers and bi-finish hands will really stand out against the deep color, and compliment the honeycomb pattern well.


After approval from our creative committee, we turned our attention to the caseback. This is where we had some difficulties in agreeing on a design concept. There were multiple aspects to consider, like how much of the movement did we want to see? How prominent should our Society branding be? And how closely the design should tie in with the dial side of the watch? We explored several concepts and variations of our logo.



Above are some of the ideas we discussed. I found it interesting that the most challenging part of the watch to design was the caseback, and not the prominent dial side.


Another founding Board Member, and member of the creative committee- Josh Alfaro presented a very compelling design. One that ties into the dial side nicely.



This is a black circle printed on the crystal that mostly covers the SW200 movement. It is scaled so that it reaches the angled portion of the rotor beyond. This brings 'HSU' to the focal point (it is not found on the dial side after all) while still allowing the eye to notice part of the balance oscillating, and the rotor rotating. So the owner can see that they have an automatic caliber, but they aren't focused on the movement or it's finish.


The 'HSU' is transparent, so you can see traces of the Sellita caliber through the Society branding. A final fun feature is the offset inclusion of '801' done in the same honeycomb yellow color. 801 is Utah's first telephone area code. It was assigned to the entirety of the state back in 1947.


We took a vote as a board, and this design won the majority support.



At this point Christopher Ward accepted our designs and produced final renderings, along with detailed pricing. I want to note that Peter France was a real delight to work with. He was helpful, responsive, and supportive. He really put in effort to help our ideas become feasible. I have every confidence that the final product will look better than we ever anticipated. Christopher Ward's Business Development Department is in excellent hands.


Pricing for the HSU Twelve will be $1225 on the lovely integrated bracelet. Or $995 if you would prefer it on the black rubber strap. For those of us who want both options, we can bundle both for $1305. This pricing includes import and shipping fees. There will be no hidden costs with this watch. I love the fact that Christopher Ward is making this available to us at the same retail price as a production version of the Twelve. They are not charging a premium for the customization, or for the very limited production numbers.


When the watch is ready to order, Christopher Ward will create a private section of their website that will require a password to access. Interested individuals can then sign in, and order the version of the watch they desire. The watch will come in CW x HSU co-branded packaging, and will be sent directly to the address you provide. Naturally it will have a full factory warranty. The process couldn't be easier.


We anticipate the final product to be on our wrists before the end of the year. It really is a quick turnaround from idea to watch in hand. Another testament to Christopher Ward being an industry leader for bespoke projects.



The Horological Society of Utah's mission statement is to support the culture of horology through education and community outreach. In an effort to help our Society fulfill this mission, Christopher Ward will be donating a small portion of each sale back to the Society. It is an extremely generous commitment, and one we greatly appreciate. So by ordering one of these watches, you are helping our Society continue to put on monthly events (We are hosting Christopher Ward in August of 2024), and save for our further goals of creating classrooms and offering on-going educational classes.


This watch, and its design process will be an experience I will never forget. And one I will always be grateful for. I feel the end product will be absolutely fantastic. A must-have for any watch lover with ties to the state of Utah. I look forward with excitement to the completion of this (hopefully first of many) bespoke watch project.


-Bruce Williams




418 views4 comments

4 Comments


Lincoln
Lincoln
Apr 20

I would love to see a gold honeycomb dial version of this in the future.

Like

Chad Carter
Chad Carter
Apr 19

I think that yellow 45 dot is my favorite detail. Great work on this.

Like

Lincoln
Lincoln
Apr 19


Like

Lincoln
Lincoln
Apr 19

Amazing Bruce! This is Killer Beehive State Cool! I really appreciate your work on the design and working with Christopher Ward in making this happen. Really well done article to tell us all about it as well. Thank you so much! - Lincoln

Like
bottom of page