Christopher Ward was founded on a boat on the River Thames, so it seems only natural that its three founders Christopher Ward, Peter Ellis and Mike France would return to the water as they prepare to set sail for uncharted waters.
The past year has been a busy one for the watch brand which sells its watches directly to the public online, and while they may quibble over boat choice – France likes a kayak while Ward prefers a canoe (“more space for the beer”) – they are unanimous about the moment in the past year that catapulted them into new territory.
“Without doubt, the launch of our own in-house movement, Calibre SH21,” says France. “It has moved the business and the brand into a different sphere completely.”
As part of an integration of the business, Christopher Ward has merged with its Swiss atelier, something Ward says will “allow us to clearly map out the direction of future product development without fear of non-supply”. “It puts us in a very small league of watch brands with the ability to be genuinely innovative and independent,” adds France.
The Christopher Ward business model has always been built on dealing directly with its customers and cutting out as many of the middle men as possible, so this integration is yet another refinement of that strategy. While this does put “a greater burden” on the company, according to Ward, it also yields a much more rewarding experience for this entrepreneurial trio. “The fact that we now control our supply chain and are fully integrated from start to finish will certainly reap benefits in the future,” he adds.
And in that not-too-distant future, the friends, who claim there is no such thing as a separation between work and play, plan to introduce more in-house movements. SH21 is but the first step in a revolution led by Christopher Ward to shake up the luxury watch market.
HOT 100 BRAND CHAMPIONS: Mike France, Peter Ellis and Chris Ward, co-founders Christopher Ward. Image: Kalory.co.uk