The Opel and the MINIs

Beastmaster and Peanut Adventures

Watches that are part of My Journey Through Time

Journey Through Time

Watches have long been a fascination for me. My watch collection is modest but varied and started way back when I was 5 with a Timex Donald Duck watch! The journey marches on through time with my most recent watches being a Chopard Mille Miglia GT XL Power Control and a Christopher Ward Malvern Aviator. This is the story behind each watch on my journey through time...

Timex Donald Duck And Watex Revue

My very first watch was a Timex with Donald Duck written on the face which was white with blue lettering and numbers.

 It was a birthday present from my Auntie Vera and Uncle Henry, given to me in 1966 and although I no longer wear it, I still have it in my watch collection - cherished for being my first ever watch! In my twenties I inherited my Uncle Henry's gold watch so he played a large part in my journey through time.

The Watex Revue belonged to my Granddad on my Dad's side. I wore this watch in my early twenties but have not wore it much since. It is now in need of a little tender love and care and requires a new winder.

Nonetheless a fine gold watch and it definitely has its place in my journey through time.

 

Vertex Revue Gold watch

In 1960 my Uncle Henry was awarded a gold watch from his employer Joseph Crosfield & Sons Ltd for long service. Coincidentally, this was the year I was born and when he passed away, (while I was at university) the watch came to me. It is a very neat watch and one which I treasure greatly.

 

I wore this watch every day for several years in my twenties and it served me well. Now it is reserved for formal occasions and worn in memory of a loved uncle, who helped start me on my watch journey.

Thomas Russell Gold watch

This was my Dad's Gold watch and it is made by Thomas Russell and it dates back to 1956.  It came to me when I was 26 after my Dad passed away and i wore it regularly in my late twenties. Now I wear it as a dress watch as i do my Uncle Henry's watch. Thomas Russell was one of the great names of 19th century watch making – though surprisingly little is known about him outside Liverpool. He was, along with Joseph Sewill, at the forefront of the Lancashire watch and clock industry. Thomas Russell, created fine timepieces and received royal patronage from Queen Victoria, though he was more famous for his pocket watches and  suffered when watches changed to wrist watches. Nonetheless, this is a fine gold watch from a respected watch maker. Without doubt it is my most cherished watch, albeit not my most expensive.


As my watch journey continues another watch maker has come to my attention - Christopher Ward of London. Christopher Ward makes high quality quartz and automatic watches selling them directly on the internet. He himself comes from Prescott near Liverpool and so was first inspired by Thomas Russell and his first watch was a homage to Thomas Russell - The C1 Russell which has a similar face to a Russell pocket watch. Other watches in the Christopher Ward stable are The C3 Malvern Chronograph, The C5 Automatic and The C5 Malvern Aviator and more recently, a C7 Rapide and C8 Big Pilot. Malvern is my home town, A Thomas Russell was my Dad's watch - is it fate that I should have a Christopher Ward watch in my collection. He does a very nice C6 Kingfisher Diver-Pro with yellow dial and black silicon rubber diver strap!

Casio Digital

Back to the early nineties with this watch. I was holidaying in Cyprus and was enjoying waterskiing and going on the jet skis every day. Jet skis were hired for twenty minutes at a time which was long enough to be charging about the seas at full speed - great fun! However, I wanted a waterproof watch that had a timer on it so i could maximise my time on the jet ski. This nifty Casio watch beckoned me from one of the local shops and I enjoyed wearing it for many years through the Nineties! As you can see in the photograph it is still going strong as of the 15th February 2009!

MINI Watch

From my love of our BMW MINIs  came this watch. In 2002, we bought our first MINI - CooperBeast a Chili Red Cooper - and we have been hooked ever since. Like all hooked enthusiasts for a brand, be it a watch or a car, we are suckers for the merchandise that goes with it. It goes without saying then that a watch had to follow and this was our watch purchase for 2004!

Storm Watch

In my early twenties I first came across Storm watches and loved their innovative eye catching designs. I had hankered after a Storm watch for a long time before finally getting my very own Storm watch. My final choice was in truth one of Storm's more conservative designs apeing the style of Breitling and Tag a little. It was a gift from my wife for my 46th birthday. It is the Storm Multi Sation in silver and is part of their model line up today, retailing at £79.99. A great value, stylish watch from a stylish budget watch supplier. See their web site - www.stormwatches.com

This watch still gets wrist time today and is a comfortable and stylish workhorse for me!

Breitling Navitimer

I cannot remember when Breitling watches first came to my attention but it was a long, long time ago. As my interest in the brand deepened and I explored their history and the long association they have had with aviation, my desire for one just got more intense. As a young boy I had avidly read every Biggles book I could lay my hands on and I concluded that as surely as Bond wears an Omega, then Biggles would sport a Navitimer! If it was good enough for Biggles then it was good enough for me.

Breitling's own website describes the Navitimer as follows:

THE INSTRUMENT THAT HAS SYMBOLIZED THE BRAND SINCE 1952

In launching the Navitimer in 1952, Breitling gave pilots a genuine wrist instrument. Ingenious and efficient, this chronograph is endowed with a built-in "navigation computer", a circular slide rule capable of performing all calculations a flight plan requires. The Navitimer thus became the official watch of the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), the world's largest grouping of pilots. In over 50 years of existe, the Navitimer has achieved cult object status, therby joining the select circle of modern, ultra-functional and timeless objects that have made their mark in the 20th century. Since the famous "806" model in 1952, the Navitimer has found its way through the years unchanged in either form or spirit. Continuously produced throughout this period, it is now the world's oldest chronograph.

This history convinced me that this was Biggles' watch and I had to have one. In 2005 I was in Northampton for a dinner dance with MINI2 (A BMW MINI car forum) and I saw a Navitimer in a jeweller's window in the town. It looked absolutely huge and my dream of having this beautiful watch faded, as I looked at my slim wrists! I told my wife that I would just try it on so that I could dismiss this dream once and for all, so inside we went. Well the watch looked stunning on my wrist and I wanted it there and then. How I agonised that day and at that moment in that shop, as I wrestled with temptation. The truth was though, I just did not have that kind of money in my back pocket ready to blow on a watch. No, if I wanted that watch it would have to come my way by old fashioned saving up.

Finally in October 2007, some 2 and a half years later, I had got the money together and after checking out every Breitling shop that I passed, I finally got one from Fraser Hart in Solihull. We had gone to Solihull for a  shopping trip and when I saw the jewellers we checked them out. The Breitling was there but with batons and I wanted an arabic face - this watch has a busy face so let's really go for busy, was  my thought! I made the chap ring all the other branches and he tracked one down for me. This was a Sunday and on the following Wednesday evening I returned to collect my watch. My Navigation through time, for a Breitling was at an end! Or was this the beginning...

For the watch enthusiasts here are the specs: 


Caliber: Breitling 23
Movement: Selfwinding mechanical
Power reserve: min. 42 hours
Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
Jewel: 25 jewels
Calendar: dial aperture
Case: Steel
Water resistance: 3 bars
Bezel: Bi-directional, slide rule
Crown: Non-screw-locked, two gaskets
Back (or caseback0: Screwed in
Crystal: Cambered sapphire, glareprofed both sides
Diameter: 41.80mm
Thickness: 14.60mm
Weight: 79.40 gr.
Interhorn width: 22/20mm
Beauty rating: 5 *

Hamilton Ventura Automatic

I first saw the Hamilton brand in 2007 at Nice airport while waiting to fly back to England. The watch that caught my eye was  the Hamilton Khaki Air Race GMT on a black rubber strap with orange stitching that matched the orange numbers on the black faced dial. The watch was water resistant to 200 metres and came with a decent automatic movement which you could view through the back. It fitted my wrist a treat and was indeed a very tempting watch. When I returned to England I began to look at Hamilton's in earnest and quickly visited their web site www.hamiltonwatch.com. Their history caught my eye and I was drawn to the Ventura. This watch is iconic in the watch world for a number of reasons. First, it was the first ever battery powered watch introduced in 1957, secondly it came wrapped in a very modern stylish case designed by Richard Arbib who was also famous for putting the fins on the rear of the huge American motors of the fifties.  It was the watch that began the journey into quartz watches which almost killed off the Swiss watch industry. Now this fine American watch company manufactures in Switzerland and is part of the Swatch group! Finally, for me the discovery that Elvis Presley wore one in his movie Blue Hawaii sealed the deal and I knew I had to have a Ventura! However, I could not see where it fit into my plans for a watch, as by now I had my Breitling Navitimer for general wear and the next watch that I wanted was a more sporty watch that I could wear on the beach and for swimming etc.

However, the ladies version looked great and they also did a ladies version on a full stainless strap which looked very nice so I thought perhaps a Ventura could join the family as a watch for my wife Peanut. Still exploring the brand we looked for a local dealer and found the nearest one to us was in Knowle near Birmingham. This was close to Solihull where we like to shop on occasion so it was perfect. 

KNOWLE GOLDSMITHS LIMITED, 1644A High Street Knowle, SOLIHULL, B93 0NA Tel. 01564 772827 was the jeweller and we visited on a day when we met some friends of ours in Solihull who had come up from Boston near Lincoln. We had a delightful time in this lovely jewellers and spent well over an hour there trying on all his Hamiltons, asking loads of questions and finally coming away with just a catalogue! They had a ladies Ventura on a white leather strap which Peanut tried on but she wasn't convinced about the strap. However, the jeweller said he was getting a Ventura on the bracelet and would ring us when he had one in. A few weeks later he rang but it was about two months before we could find time to visit again.

Meantime, I had been reading some fascinating debates about dress watches on some of the watch forums on the internet and had kind of seen a gap in my watch collection, where I didn't really have a  modern watch that you could wear for a dressy occasion. I mean let's be honest, the real James Bond would never wear an Omega Seamaster with a dinner suit. If he did wear an Omega it would be a Deville surely? However, I had given no real thought to the matter beyond  reading the forum debates with interest and anyway I had two gold watches for that already!

Finally we paid a second visit to Knowle Goldsmiths in Knowle and saw the Ladies Ventura on a stainless strap. Both of us fell for it instantly - it was gorgeous. Peanut tried it on and great disappointment followed. Her wrists are very tiny and the bracelet was very big and the jeweller thought that he just could not make the bracelet small enough. We were very disappointed. Anyway we carried on looking and mooching and talking and kept trying the Ventura on. Meanwhile Peanut had spotted a man's Ventura - an automatic on a croc style strap with a visible movement. It looked great and very stylish. I tried it on and it looked lovely and was very comfortable sporting a very swish deployant buckle. Meanwhile, the jeweller decided that nothing was to be lost trying to make the strap smaller. Ten minutes later he emerged from his back room and success - the watch looked stunning on Peanut's wrist! The automatic Ventura had still not come off my wrist and in my mind it filled the gap in my watch collection that I had just invented. It was the perfect dress watch for me - not a dress watch in the conventional way as it is quite a busy watch with the skeleton style face, but really on the croc strap it couldn't be anything else. So there you have it - my new dress watch!

It was an absolute delight visiting this shop and the guys in there were so friendly and helpful. Final outcome - two happy bunnies left the shop sporting his and hers Hamilton Venturas!

Postscript. My Hamilton Ventura Automatic to me encapsulates  a huge chunk of modern watch making history in one ironic watch. The first ever battery powered watch now come with a prestige swiss automatic movement inside! A full circle so to speak!

Ladies Hamilton Ventura

The Christopher Ward Adventure

I have already mentioned Christopher Ward of London before and explained the attraction I felt for this brand. His watches are sold via the Internet, are designed in London and manufactured in Switzerland using high quality Swiss movements for  both the Quartz and automatic models in his range.
The Kingfisher was the first to  really catch my eye and when I received it I was even more bowled over by the beauty of the yellow dial and overall quality of the watch - it is a real eye catcher and a pleasure to wear.

As I further explored the Christopher Ward watch collection I discovered a limited edition watch - The Malvern Aviator. This was based on the 1936 
Aviator watch by IWC, so this hook worked for me with my love of all things to do with aviation - no doubt started by my fervent reading of Biggles as a youngster. The next hook was having "Malvern" in its name - well I live there - so that was that and a Malvern Aviator was ordered. This comes with a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement which has been beautifully dressed and is stunning to view via the rear view case. This watch is a quiet delight and gets a lot of wrist time, especially being so clear and easy to read and it is limited to 1936 pieces. This man is on a roll right now with some stunning watches to lust after such as the C8 Pilot or the C7 Rapide both for him and for her to mention but a few. Visit the web site at www.christopherward.co.uk and join the CWL Forum to see for yourself and to get sneak previews of upcoming watches.

Chopard Mille Miglia GT XL Power Control


We have decided to have a driving holiday in Europe touring Italy and an easy way to plan the route is to follow the route of the famous Mille Miglia road race that ran from 1927 to 1957 and which has been revived as a classic car event. Chopard sponsor the event and commemorate the fact by producing their Mille Miglia range of watches. This is quoted from Chopard's web site, "Passion, performance, precision: these are just a few of the striking similarities between automotive engineering and mechanical watchmaking. The Mille Miglia collection links these two worlds and perfectly represents the spirit of la corsa più bella del mondo....
Chopard has been actively supporting the Mille Miglia as a main sponsor and official timekeeper since 1988. This longstanding partnership has given rise to a collection of precision sports watches reflecting this unparalleled passion and performance". After spending a few months listening to me practising "Showpar" and "mee-lay meel-yah" my lovely wife could take no more and  bought me this watch on Valentines Day!

It is a lovely watch, powered by the Valgranges movement, which by the way is the noisiest loudest movement I have ever encountered but hearing it grunt and groan makes the watch seem alive on 
my wrist. Check out this link to ETA's page on the Valgrange. Now I'm fully equipped to trace the route of the Mille Miglia.

Christopher Ward C70 DBR1

The Driver's Watch

Christopher Ward watches are sold via the Internet, designed in London and manufactured in Switzerland using high quality Swiss movements for  both the Quartz and automatic models in his range. The C70 range began life as a collection of 6 models each celebrating the first Grand Prix race held in the particuar country the watch celebrates. Each was limited to just 500 watches.

The C70 DBR1 is a stand alone model in the same style and again it is limited to 500 watches. It celebrates the 1959 Le Mans Victory of the Aston Martin DBR1.

Aston Martin is one of the great English marques that inspires the Christopher Ward team. As CWL say, the understated beauty of every Aston Martin is combined with a precision and power that is unique in the world of motor manufacture and is even the case when they turn their hand to motor sport.

David Brown (the DB that pre-fixes their model names) bought Aston Martin in 1947 and was determined to build on the company's motor racing heritage, a vision that reached its ultimate fruition in 1959 when the magnificent DBR1/300 car took first and second places in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and ultimately went on to win that years World Sportscar Championship.

The C70 DBR1 is the perfect watch for anyone who admires this quintessentially English sports car marque.

I had wanted a C70 as soon as the range was launched and my initial dilemma was deciding which one to pick, I liked them all, but narrowed it down to The Brooklands (The British Model) or the Italian Rossso Corsa. Funds also meant the purchase would not be impulsive. In the interim The DBR1 was added and this really grabbed my attention. The DBR1 car is green with white circles with the racing number on and the design of the CWL C70 DBR1 captures this perfectly and the lovely green bezel was simply icing on the cake. This was to be the model. Meanwhile two of my friends from the MINI community had jumped in and bought one each. That was it, I had to be a part of that club and this week I took the plunge and got my very own C70 DBR1.

I got home from work to find the parcel waiting for me, smothered in brown wapping tape and like a 5 year old on Christmas day I battled with the tape to get to the contents. I have to say the presentation box is first class, right up there with my Breitling Box and probably better than my Chopard case, even if that did come with its own DVD!.

I opened the box and there it was nestling on a soft green background, with its own plaque denoting its limited edition serial number. The watch looked simply stunning and I examined it all over quite frankly in complete awe. Not a blemish on it and bulit to first class standards. This watch really does box above its weight, the quality is weigh above its current £330 price point.

Next step a quick adjustment to the buterrfly clasp to size it to my wrist and on it went. My next happy surprise was how comfortable it was. I think this is the most comfortable to wear watch in my whole collection. I have to keep checking to see if it is on my wrist and then I am mesmerised by its beauty. Someone at work saw me glance at my watch and as I turned away asked me the time. I had to look again as I hadn't clocked the time I had just been admiring the beauty of the watch!

Three days later and the watch is still the one that goes on the wrist. Soon it will go on rotation with my other CWLs and the rest of my collection but this one is right up there with my favourites and I think having seen this in the flesh and knowing how comfortable it is, another C70 might well beckon!

Features:

  • Worldwide limited edition of only 500 pieces
  • Swiss made
  • 22 jewel Swiss quartz movement
  • Convex Anti-reflective sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Adjustable quick-release butterfly clasp
  • Screw-in crown
  • Chronographic dials with split minutes / seconds /1/10 seconds
  • Tachymeter bezel
  • Deluxe box upgrade
  • Water resistance 10 atm
  • Spanish ’Toro Bravo’ Italian leather strap
  • Unique engraved individual serial number
  • Beautiful presentation case and owner’s handbook

Technical:

  • Diameter: 42mm
  • Height: 10.7mm
  • Weight: 90g
  • Calibre: ETA 251.272
  • Vibrations: n/a

Christopher Ward C70 IT Rosso Corsa


The High Octane Watch

Christopher Ward watches are sold via the Internet, designed in London and manufactured in Switzerland using high quality Swiss movements for  both the Quartz and automatic models in his range. The C70 range began life as a collection of 6 models each celebrating the first Grand Prix race held in the particuar country the watch celebrates. Each was limited to just 500 watches. The Rosso Corsa was one of the original six. Later Christopher Ward added some stand alone watches to the C70 range a DBR1, which I have in my collection and a very attractive C70 Monte Carlo.

Christopher Ward writes about the C70 IT:

"The 4th September 1921 was the date of the first Gran Premio d'Italia at the Montichiari course in the Northern Italian town of Brescia.

Although the French driver Louis Wagner took pole position on the starting grid it was his compatriot Jules Goux who won the 30 lap race (Wagner finished 3rd) in a time of 3 hours, 35 minutes and 9 seconds.

The C70IT is dressed in the Italian racing colours Rosso Corsa (race red) which legendary Italian racing car marques such as Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Ferrari made famous."

When the C70 range first came out, I would have liked all of them but funds just would not allow this so I narrowd my wish list down to the C70 IT or the British Brooklands model. I was still dithering when The C70 DBR1 was introduced to fill the gap left by the Brooklands selling out, so I plunged for this one as a stand alone model not really a part of the original six. However, the collection has almost completely sold out and only a few Rosso Corsas now remain. They were cleared out at half price, so I could not resist and added it to my collection. Interestingly, it is the last one in the range to sell out, which might suggest that it was the least popular, yet to me eyes it is simply gorgeous and I think if I had to pick between this and the DBR1, I would choose this one. I suspect it is the loudest and boldest of the range  and hence the last to sell out. Perhaps that says everything about my taste in watches!

The Christopher Ward C60 FLE

The Trident Watch

This is my fifth Christopher Ward watch, so clearly they are doing something that I like. Put simply they have the right combination of quality, style and prestige at an affordable price. At a price that allows me to become a watch collector.

This model, known as the Trident due to the rather stylish Trident design that sits on the back end of the seconds finger is an exclusive limited edition run. It has been commissioned for the independent Christopher Ward Forum as the 2012 Forum Ltd Edition. Christopher Ward is a keen supporter of the forum, while at the same time recognising the imprtance of it remaining fully independent of his business. His support has resulted in a limited edition most years of the Forum's life. This year he offerred the Trident as the base model and the colours were chosen by Forum members. This resulted in a limited edition of 100 watches, 50 in the blue you see here and 50 in red.

This is my first Forum Limited Edition and I am nothing short of delighted about it. The watch has 3 features unique to its limited edition status. First is the blue bezel, which for me is the perfect shade of blue - bright enough not to be mistaken for black and understated enough to be classy. Second is is the blue matching face with a subtle wavy pattern, which for me underpins the watches credentials as a dive watch, especially when combined with the Trident second finger. The third unique feature is the back. This is adorned with the Trident symbol (as are all the Trident models) but uniquely  states "Forum LE 2012 020/100." I like this, it makes the watch feel extra special. The unique Forum LE blue dial and face are simply beautiful and the watch can be dressed up to a suit or dressed down to jeans. Er... I guess it all boils down to what attire you prefer to dive in!

The watch's diving credentials, as have been stated are underpinned by the Trident second finger and back, allied to the wavy styled face. More serious credentials though are the 1000 feet dive capabilty, the 4.00 mm anti-reflective saphire glass, the uni directional bezel and the diver's extension built into the bracelet clasp, so that the watch can be worn over a diving suit, simply by opening the folding extension. In my case a spot of beach snorkelling is the most serious work it will do but the geek in me still likes this neat touch.

When I first opened the box and saw the watch, I was immediately smitten. It oozed quality, I loved the onion style fingers but what I really like is the way they taper to a very fine point, which shouts precision at me. I hadn't really appreciated this from seeing photographs of the watch. I love the simple use of colours too - blue face, blue bezel, white hands and numerals, white date back and a hint of red on the tip of the second hand. Quietly stylish and the 4.00 mm anti-reflective saphire glass really lets you see this style.As I picked the watch up its weight impressed me too. I like a watch with a bit of weight it gives it a solid, sturdy feel. I had just taken my Breitling Navitimer off to try this one on and both felt suitably and similarly weighty in my hand. I removed three links and got the perfect size for me.

 

I have picked up on two criticisms that have been levelled at this watch. First the date hole, which is at for o'clock, rather than three as on the Rolex it takes a bow to. Only actually it isn't. The top of the rectangular date hole lines up with 4 o'clock with the date hole dropping down from this point.  Many hate this lack of symmetry and feel that the date hole should be exactly where the batton for 4 would be, that is equi-distant between the baton for 3 and the dot for 5. It isn't. If I stare at a blown up photograph of this watch for long enough I can convince myself that this is a problem. However, in the flesh it just isn't an issue for me whatsoever and quite simply I see it as an endearing Christopher Ward quirk that sets the watch apart from the rest. Secondly, this watch sports a brand new bracelet from Christopher Ward, which includes a diver's extension concealed in the clasp. The clasp has a 5 position micro adjustment but due to the concealed diver extension, two of the micro adjustments cannot be used as they would leave no room for the diver's extension to reside in. I have no answer to this. In my case the micro adjustment is set in the middle postion so it is not a problem to me. The bracelet is very comfortable and the combination of polished and brushed links looks fabulous and combines well with the watch case itself.

There is not a lot more for me to say. I am just a very happy chappie with a very good looking watch that oozes quality. Just buy one. Oh you can't it's a limited edition! Shame. Still all is not lost Christopher Ward has a range of C60 watches for mere mortals. Check those out!

Timex IQ Flyback Chronograph

The Vintage Watch

 The Timex T Series™ Racing collection traditionally takes its design cues from a racing motif. The design platform has evolved but continues to deliver a bold and masculine design motif. The Timex T-Series™Fly-back Chronograph with Intelligent Quartz™ technology advances the design aesthetic of this collection and features a fly-back chronograph movement and second time zone. The model I have wanted for such a long time and finally have here is the T2N700 version with a black face and case and a beige vintage leather strap. A cross then between an automobile racing chronograph and a vintage aviator!

In truth the watch got off to a false start with the first releases having an incorrectly printed face and the numerals off the bottom hand running 1, 3, 6, 8, 9 instead of 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 as they should. I had to wait a while for this to be corrected and  the new batch released for sale. I finally saw an example of the correct face on the Christopher Ward Forum so immediately went hunting on the Internet. First Class Watches.co.uk came up trumps with a great price and I was able to phone them to check on the face design before placing my order. I ordered it on Saturday and the watch arrived Wednesday after the Easter Bank Holiday Monday so first class service guys!

I have already written about my fondness for this vintage look when I looked at this watch along with a Bell & Ross 123 Vintage Heritage, A Christopher Ward C8 Vintage and a Steinhart Vintage Chrono. To put this in perspective, the Timex comes in at around £124, a third of the price of a CWL C8 and a lot lot less than the almost £2000 Bell & Ross. So having it on the wrist what do I think? Well at over £100 many would regard it as an expensive watch and in that market it doesn't disappoint, good quality, good looks and great featues and I am nothing short of delighted with it.

However, is the quality up there with The Steinharts or the Christopher Wards or the Bell & Ross? Simply put - no. The pushers are a tad cheap looking, The glass is mineral not crystal, the strap is chunky and acceptable but not in the same class as a Bell and Ross or a Christopher Ward. That said the strap does fit my wrist straight out of the box, which is more than can be said for a Christopher Ward C8 which comes on standard straps which are just frankly too big! The movement is quartz and not an automatic but to me that means the cheaper movement allows more investment in the glass and case and strap and from that view point the quality isn't there.

Put simply you do get what you pay for but as with most goods the more you pay the less you get for your extra money. To explain, the Christopher Ward at 4 times the price is not 4 times better, but being great value is perhaps three times better. The Steinhart at 8 times the price is also only 3 times better and the Bell & Ross at 16 times the price is probably only 5 times better. An  arbitrary scale plucked from the top of my head but you get the idea. The less you pay the more you get for your money but none of us chooses the cheapest every time and especially not if you are a watch geek!

In summary for the money I can't fault it at all and it will get a lot of wrist time!

Features

  • IQ™ Fly-back chronograph movement
  • INDIGLO® night-light
  • Second time zone
  • Date feature
  • Stainless steel case
  • Genuine leather strap
  • 100 meter water resistance
  • Case size: 43mm
  • Lug size: 20mm
  • Mineral glass

Christopher Ward C70 Monte Carlo

The MINI Watch

When the Christopher Ward C70 Monte Carlo first came out I wanted one immediately, quite simply it ticked all the right boxes for me. However, having already got two C70 watches, I could not justify a full price purchase even for a limited edition. However, as the watch comes to the end of its run a 30% off sale forced my hand and the watch has been added to the collection.

The Monte Carlo Rally is a big deal in Beastie Folly. First we love MINIs and secondly we holiday every year in the South of France. In 2004 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Mini winning the Rally in 1964 by taking CooperBeast our BMW MINI Cooper to Monte Carlo to drive one of the legs of The Rally. We left St Tropez in 20 degress and lovely sunshine and parked in the snow at Col de Turini for lunch! Great, great fun.

In 2006 we were there again with our friends RVW and Storm to drive the rally route again, this time in CheckBeast  our BMW Mini Cooper S JCW and again the fun was incalculable.

The connection that Mini has with the rally is well known and we have documented it here. It is this association that almost guaranteed that this watch would end up in our collection. We love MINI, we love the Monte Carlo Rally and well let's face it this is my sixth Christopher Ward watch so there is lots of love there too.

Recently, we went to the Le Mans 24 hour Classic event and we were smitten by the Renault Alpines on show. This one caught our eye as it nodded its respect to the 1973 Renault Alpine Monte Carlo winner driven by Jean-Claude Andruet . Returning from this event and finding the C70 Monte Carlo on sale, was just too much to resist!

The watch itself is a joy to behold. it is more understated than the rest of the C70 series, as if it has grown up. This gives it a broader appeal, it is less in your face, less offensive than say the garish C70 IT which I have in glorious rossa. If it was a car then it would be a Mercedes Benz in silver. Like the car it is designed with one eye on the resale value, cometh the day that the collector decides to move it on. I can however, cope with its maturity and forgive it, its nod to middle class conservatism, because it achieves that while still kicking back to its teenage rebel days - the red stitched matt finished strap for example, is very racy. The chronograph function is very neat on this model as there is a full circle of markers on the watch face on this design, which allows accurate reading whenever the chronograph is stopped. This is not the case with the  more rebellious rest of the C70 range!

In conclusion, a sexy looking, grown up C70 which pays respect to the marvel that is the Monte Carlo Rally. Yep it's a winner!

Specs and description below courtesy of Christopher Ward.

Long distances, glamorous locations and, of course, fast cars rallying is one of the inspirations for Christopher Wards motor sport inspired collections, and the Monte-Carlo Rally epitomises that inspiration. Marking the 100th anniversary of the Monte-Carlo Rally and forming part of the Grand Prix range, the C70 Monte-Carlo has its own distinctive look, featuring the colours and icons of the Principality of Monaco. This superbly executed timepiece features all the chronograph functions associated with motor racing and is powered by the superb ETA movement. The C70MC is limited to 500 pieces worldwide.

Features

  • Worldwide limited edition of only 500 pieces
  • Swiss made
  • 22 jewel Swiss thermo compensated quartz movement
  • Convex Anti-reflective sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Principality crest on reverse and chequered dial
  • Adjustable quick-release butterfly clasp
  • Screw-in crown
  • Chronographic dials with split minutes / seconds /1/10 seconds
  • Tachymeter bezel
  • Deluxe box upgrade
  • Water resistance 10 atm
  • Spanish 'Toro Bravo' Italian leather strap
  • Unique engraved individual serial number
  • Beautiful presentation case and owner's handbook

Technical

  • Diameter: 42mm
  • Height: 10.7mm
  • Weight: 88g
  • Calibre: ETA 251.272
  • Vibrations: n/a

 

Hamilton Khaki Air Race GMT

 

The GMT Watch

I first saw the Hamilton brand in 2007 at Nice airport while waiting to fly back to England. The watch that caught my eye was the Hamilton Khaki Air Race GMT on a black rubber strap with orange stitching that matched the orange numbers on the black faced dial. The watch was water resistant to 200 metres and came with a decent automatic movement which you could view through the back. It fitted my wrist a treat and was indeed a very tempting watch. When I returned to England I began to look at Hamilton's in earnest and quickly visited their web site www.hamiltonwatch.com.  In the end this resulted in us buying His and Hers Hamilton Venturas and you can read about that here.

The Khaki Air Race GMT never left my mind but the right opportunity never came along, the price kept creeping up and then Hamilton revamped the watch with a new face, which in truth, I did not like as much as the original. It looked like this watch had slipped through the net and perhaps it was not meant to be.

I have half a dozen watches in the collection from the Christopher Ward stable and a consequence of this is that I enjoy a mooch about on an independent forum dedicated to Christopher Ward watches. I know of at least three regulars on this forum who have this Hamilton watch and every now and then they would post pictures of their pride and joy, which would torment me no end. Inevitably I would post on the thread telling the tale of first seeing the watch in Nice Airport and that if ever they wanted to sell to let me know...

Well last week My Name is Pete on the forum did just that and so I mailed him straight back asking him how much he wanted for the watch. This is where it gets interesting. Pete is aware of my battle with the Big C through this blog and also because I have mentioned it on the Christopher Ward Forum and indeed he has suffered a very personal loss at the hands of cancer himself, when he lost his wife last year through brain cancer. He went on to suggest not a price but that I make a donation to a cancer charity and he will send me the watch!

I was bowled over by this wonderful idea and immediately put my thinking cap on. I donate every month to Cancer Research already, so after a little think I suggested to Pete that if I donate over the next three months I can actually donate more than by making one larger donation. The deed was done and now I am the proud owner of a watch I have wanted for the last 5 years!

I cannot thank Pete enough for this. Not only have I got a dream watch, but all of the cost has gone to a great cause, personal to both myself and Pete. The charity almost certainly has more money than if Pete had sold it on eBay and donated the money, but more than that, I like to think that Pete knows that the watch has gone to a good home and to a bloke who will know the real value and meaning of this watch every time he uses it to check the time.

I love this watch, I have hankered after it for a very long time, but I cannot explain to you just how much Pete's kindness has made this watch extra special to me!

Vintage Rolex Precision

 

 

The Vintage Rolex

My Mum's brother - Uncle Roy - aware of my passion for watches has given me two of his watches an Omega and this Rolex Precision. It dates from 1961 and comes with original boxes, original guarantee and original receipt. Currently the watch, in gold case with gold case back, is not working so the next step is a service and a clean to breathe new life into this fantastic gift.  methinks it might be worth a tad more than the original price of Thirty seven pounds five shillings and sixpence!

Oh and for the record the receipt from Watches of Switzerland shows that back in 1961, Uncle Roy got a 7.5% discount on his Rolex!

The watch was my Uncle Roy's 21st birthday present so I feel very proud to be the second owner of this wonderful family watch.

 

 

The Vintage Omega

The Vintage Omega

This is the second watch that my Uncle Roy gave me, a gold cased Omega and I will update this thread once it has been serviced and cleaned. 

Christopher Ward C70 US Cunningham

 

The Cunningham Stripe Watch

 

To begin with I got a C70 DBR1. This was a Christopher Ward limited edition of 500 pieces and it followed on from the original C70 series of 6. I had wanted all six of the original set but knew I couldn't afford this and was agonizing over a UK Brooklands or the Italian Rosso Corsa. The DBR1 came along and I went for that. Then Christopher Ward cleared the last few out cheaply so I did pick up the C70 Italian job. They then brought out a C70 Monte Carlo and with a good sale price I could not resist that. Without realising it I had begun to collect the C70 watches. I bid for a few on eBay but was outbid as they were starting to fetch very high prices. I just lost out on a C70 US Cunningham and Jan from the Christopher Ward Forum contacted me. He had not bonded with his C70 Cunningham  so he would sell it if I wanted it.  He wanted it to go to an enthusiast who would give the watch the love it deserves so we agreed a price and today this beauty arrived at the Post Office. Thank you Jan it has been a pleasure to deal with you.

We are big MINI fans in the car world and we have two MINIs, a Clubman and a MINI Coupe and both of these have Cunningham style stripes on, so I am very pleased now to have a watch with these stripes on too.

Tommy Milton drove his Miller 122 to victory in the 1923 Indianapolis 500, which was the first time this legendary race was considered part of the International Grand Prix series. Although the Cunningham racing stripe was not introduced by American, Briggs Swift Cunningham II until much later, as the first ever racing stripe.

It is highly appropriate that it is sported by the C70US as the famous blue parallel lines on white ground have become synonymous with American motor racing. 

Features

  • Worldwide limited edition of only 500 pieces
  • Swiss made
  • 22 jewel Swiss thermo compensated quartz movement
  • Convex Anti-reflective sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Cunningham stripe on watch face and bezel
  • Adjustable quick-release butterfly clasp
  • Screw-in crown
  • Chronographic dials with split minutes / seconds /1/10 seconds
  • Tachymeter bezel
  • Deluxe box upgrade
  • Water resistance 10 atm
  • Spanish 'Toro Bravo' Italian leather strap
  • Unique engraved individual serial number
  • Beautiful presentation case and owner's handbook

Technical

  • Diameter: 42mm
  • Height: 10.7mm
  • Weight: 88g
  • Calibre: ETA 251.272
  • Vibrations: n/a

 

Chronology of My Watches

 Just for fun I wanted to create a timeline for the watches in my watch collection.

 

  1. 1966 March - Timex Donald Duck
  2. 1978 Month unknown, year is approx - Watex Revue
  3. 1981 Month unknown - Vertex
  4. 1986 July - Thomas Russell
  5. 1992 Month unknown, year is approx - Casio
  6. 2004 Month unknown - MINI Watch
  7. 2006 March - Storm
  8. 2007 October - Breitling Navitimer
  9. 2008 March - Hamilton Ventura
  10. 2008 May - Christopher Ward C6 Kingfisher
  11. 2008 August - Christopher Ward C5 Malvern Aviator MkI
  12. 2009 February - Chopard Mille Miglia XL GT Power Control
  13. 2011 January - Christopher Ward C70 DBR1
  14. 2011 August - Christopher Ward C70 IT Rosso Corsa
  15. 2012 March - Christopher Ward C60 Trident Forum Ltd Edition
  16. 2012 April - Timex Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph T2N700
  17. 2012 July - Christopher Ward C70 MC Monte-Carlo
  18. 2012 August - hamilton Khaki Air Race MkI
  19. 2012 October - Vintage Rolex Precion
  20. 2012 December - Christopher Ward C70 US Cunningham

Where Next?

There are some fantastic watches out there by the brands that have caught my eye , the Breitling Superocean Heritage 38mm on an Ocean Racer strap, the Breitling Aerospace Avantage, a Christopher Ward of London C700 Automatic Chronograph or a C8 Pilot's watch, a Hamilton Rose Gold and carbon fibre X-Wind or even an Opel GT Chrono watch. Then there are all the brands that I am less familiar with but which have caught my eye - B.R.M. (The French connection?), U-Boat (everyone needs a submarine?), Panerai or IWC perhaps? The fun is in the chase, the pursuit or waiting for the story to unfold because I have realised that each watch  I have has a story to tell, a reason why if you like. The Navitimer was Biggles, The Hamilton was Elvis, The Malvern Aviator was Planes and Malvern, The Chopard was the Mille Miglia and so on. 2012 has seen Christopher Ward's C60 Forum Ltd Edition, the Timex IQ Chronograph and Christopher Ward's C70 Monte Carlo added to the collection. So where next... A casio G-Shock, a Suunto, A Bell & Ross Vintage or Autodromo have all caught my eye, but wouldn't it be nice to catch one from the past, a vintage Omega or Breitling...

Who really knows but my guess is that it is time to spec a watch for Peanut. She has her Ventura, which is great for dressy times but needs a sporty watch - one to match her love for motors. BRM watches are perfect for the Francophilian car enthusiast so maybe they need checking out, Christopher Ward has a great W7 Rapide but also I know she has her eye on a Hamilton Route 66 a 2008 limited edition but can she track one down...

A Breitling Service

Ever wondered what is involved in servicing a breitling and whether it gets any real love while in for a service?

Check this out and then decide!

Video of Breitling Service



  


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