One of the biggest watch stories last year, other than the MoonSwatch, was Christopher Ward launching the C1 Bel Canto in November. This elegant mechanical watch features a hammer that chimes every hour, like the bell of a church tower clock. It's what the Swiss call a Sonnerie Au Passage complication, and is pretty rare when it comes to watchmaking.
Rare must mean expensive, right? Well, yes and no... The C1 Bel Canto is priced at £2,995 with a leather strap and £3,305 on a titanium bracelet. That's one of Christopher Ward's most expensive watches, but compared to chiming watches from other brands (such as Omega, JLC, and Patek), this is an absolute steal!
The original Blue dial was limited to just 300 examples and Christopher Ward sold out in minutes. Luckily, the brand is bringing the model back, this time not limited edition and available in more colours.
Now, I've been a big fan of Christopher Ward watches for a long time - ever since the brand collaborated with T3 on a Limited Editon C6 Kingfisher - so I was very excited to get hands-on with the C1 Bel Canto.
The C1 Bel Canto is powered by an in-house movement called the Calibre SH21, which features 50 new components over the SW200-1 automatic movement on which it is based.
A button at the four o'clock position can be pressed to turn the chiming complication on or off, so as not to disturb you at night, and a red hand at the same position on the dial indicates if the watch is muted or not.
Now, originally I wasn't sure why you'd want your watch to chime every hour (after all, I don't appreciate constant notifications from smartwatches) but after spending some time with it, I've found it genuinely useful. It's a gentle reminder that time is passing and I think it stops the day from flying quickly with you realising (which can happen from time to time).
Moving away from the complication, the other good news is that the Bel Canto is comfortable to wear, with a 41mm case made from grade five titanium. It has a height of 13mm and a lug-to-lug measurement of 48mm. That titanium case means it's very light, making it easy to forget you're wearing it.
The watch is water resistant to 3ATM (about 30 metres) and has a power reserve of 38 hours.
If you're looking for a complex watch that stands out and doesn't require a mortgage to purchase - you can't go wrong with the Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto.