In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Discuss Christopher Ward watches

What should Christopher Ward do with their branding?

Keep it as it is - the rebrand is good
17
43%
Revert back to their old Chr.Ward brand and refresh it
18
45%
Create a 'heritage' and a 'modernist' line of watches
5
13%
 
Total votes: 40

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In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by jf72 »

The brand's ultimate ambition - to remove 'Christopher Ward' from the dial and move to 'twin flags logo-only' has finally been realised, so I thought it now a good time to ask: was the rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Much of the criticism was directed at the logo - specifically the 'Christopher Ward' namemark. So along comes the Aquitaine with it nowhere to be seen and only the supposedly universally loved twin-flags logo...and the result is...underwhelming. The watch looks little more than a kickstarter brand watch.

For me the rebrand was much more than the logo. On the Trident specifically, the date window had a metal frame and is now just a painted square, the sword hands are less original than the onion hands, the trident counterbalance looks cheaper, the bezel is now thinner, the red text (rather than orange) is too similar to the Seamaster and Sea dweller. The waves dial was replaced with an ordinary lacquered dial instead of ceramic, the case opening grooves look like mini-gutters... worst of all for me was the middle-finger to traditionalists, who saw Chr.Ward could have become the F.P. Journe of sports watches.

Proponents of the rebrand will say sales are through the roof, but that is only after MASSIVELY increased marketing spend and the company is making a loss.

What do you guys think? Personally, rather than doing a 'New Coke' U-turn, I would like to see a separation of two brands into a 'heritage' line (Chr.Ward) and a 'modernist' line with the twin flags. Adidas has done this successfully with the 3-stripes logo for their sporty attire and the Treefoil logo for their upmarket casual wear.
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

It seems odd to say “welcome to the forum”, as you have been a member for almost 5 years. But…welcome anyway, and by all means visit the Member Introduction section and tell us about yourself. :thumbup:

You raise something of a Titanic question there. I certainly agree with you about one thing; the V2 logo “CHR. WARD” is far and away my favourite. Like the V1 logo, I suppose it could almost always make a comeback, albeit briefly, on a limited edition; but I think it would be folly to assume that it might ever come back on a permanent basis.

Although that is my favourite version, however, I am largely ambivalent about the others and would never allow the presence or absence of a given logo to interfere with my decision to buy a watch, or indeed not to buy one.

I think that particular horse has long since bolted, and in the grand tradition of Scandinavian parrots, has drawn down the curtain and gone off to join the choir invisible.

One can but dream…
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by jf72 »

Haha, thank you very much for your warm welcome... ashamed to say the Scandinavian parrot reference has gone over my head!

I'd like to make my thread about the branding in the widest possible terms rather than fixating on the logo... to this day CW are still producing 'vintage inspired' (like the Aquitaine) or 'military inspired' (the Sealander) watches, but the kinds of guys who fetishise about the military are exactly the traditionalists who are into 'faux-luxury' as I think Mike France put it, which to me feels out of step with the modernist branding, which seems aimed very much at the younger market who have very different interests!

I would love to see some limited editions with the old logo... I even think the trident logo of the MKII counterbalance could work as well as the Rolex Crown, Tudor Shield or Omega Ω
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by Bahnstormer_vRS »

jf72 wrote: Sun May 01, 2022 7:57 pm . . ... .

I would love to see some limited editions with the old logo... . .
CW are ahead of you on this with the C5 Malvern Revival Special Edition sporting a V_1 logo and the C8 Pilot Revival Special Edition sporting a V_2 logo; both released in January this year.

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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by jf72 »

Bahnstormer_vRS wrote: Sun May 01, 2022 8:35 pm
jf72 wrote: Sun May 01, 2022 7:57 pm . . ... .

I would love to see some limited editions with the old logo... . .
that Malvern is an absolute beauty! pretty much the perfect dress watch IMO. I would be on if if it wasn't 41.5mm :frown:
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by Bahnstormer_vRS »


jf72 wrote:
that Malvern is an absolute beauty! pretty much the perfect dress watch IMO. I would be on if if it wasn't 41.5mm :frown:
So, what's wrong with it being 41.5mm?

Its the C1 Grand Malvern case which is gorgeous and perfect as a dress watch.

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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by biggus_richus »

jf72 wrote: Sun May 01, 2022 9:34 pm
that Malvern is an absolute beauty! pretty much the perfect dress watch IMO. I would be on if if it wasn't 41.5mm :frown:
Good news; it’s 40.5mm!
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by Kip »

jf72 wrote: Sun May 01, 2022 3:41 pm The brand's ultimate ambition - to remove 'Christopher Ward' from the dial and move to 'twin flags logo-only' has finally been realised, so I thought it now a good time to ask: was the rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Much of the criticism was directed at the logo - specifically the 'Christopher Ward' namemark. So along comes the Aquitaine with it nowhere to be seen and only the supposedly universally loved twin-flags logo...and the result is...underwhelming. The watch looks little more than a kickstarter brand watch.
I get the definite impression that you are not a fan of the new Retro dive inspired C65 Aquitaine with the new sapphire bezel and "Dry Marshal" safety indicator. Not to mention the enhanced C65 light catcher case with the reduced lug to lug length. You are entitled to your opinion.

For me the rebrand was much more than the logo. On the Trident specifically, the date window had a metal frame and is now just a painted square, the sword hands are less original than the onion hands, the trident counterbalance looks cheaper, the bezel is now thinner, the red text (rather than orange) is too similar to the Seamaster and Sea dweller. The waves dial was replaced with an ordinary lacquered dial instead of ceramic, the case opening grooves look like mini-gutters... worst of all for me was the middle-finger to traditionalists, who saw Chr.Ward could have become the F.P. Journe of sports watches.
The C60 Trident Pro 600 never had a ceramic dial as far as I know. Only a ceramic bezel. The MKIII did transition away from the the original hands. All this was viewed as a modernization/evolution of the model. Although I too was sorry to see the original hands and wavy dial go, many thought that the dial was too reminiscent of the Seamaster and the hands looked dated. CW got it right a sales continued to grow. As to becoming the F.P. Journe of sports watches, I think that ship sailed ling before the MKIII and logo change came about.
Proponents of the rebrand will say sales are through the roof, but that is only after MASSIVELY increased marketing spend and the company is making a loss.
Personally I was not a proponent of the brand and frankly like the original logo best until now. Where do you get your information regarding a "MASSIVELY increased marketing spend"? I don't think we have seen that anywhere. They have tended to spend according to projected income. They did try some TV ads for the first time during the pandemic when rates were extremely favorable, but I wouldn't call that a massively increased spend.

What do you guys think? Personally, rather than doing a 'New Coke' U-turn, I would like to see a separation of two brands into a 'heritage' line (Chr.Ward) and a 'modernist' line with the twin flags. Adidas has done this successfully with the 3-stripes logo for their sporty attire and the Treefoil logo for their upmarket casual wear.
I wouldn't call the rebranding a "New Coke U Turn" but I see your point. Not sure if CW needs or wants to do two brands, but I suppose it is worthy of a discussion.
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by Mikkei4 »

The branding mistake was using the name "Christopher Ward" when they started out. Sure at the time there were (and still are) several renowned long-standing watch brands with long(ish) names but in hindsight they should have made up a short brand name with accompanying logo that wasn't the name of somebody in the Company because people leave companies.

Of course the above is "in hindsight" but maybe it would have also prevented the disaster (IMO) of the asymmetric logo name at 9 o'clock.

So what now?
Please don't create separate and pigeon-holed "heritage" or "modernist" watch lines.
Re-use the V_2 logo maybe for a very occasional appropriate LE.
Twin-Flag only logo? Again it's IMO, but it's too made-up, too contrived and doesn't mean anything or reflect what should be / could be the Company's brand name. I understand they started this logo 5 years ago but they should have dumped it, totally re-branded with a new name and appropriate logo then gone to town in marketing the totally new identity. Instead are they now still Christopher Ward or do we call them "Swish" watches because that's what they call the TF logo?

BTW - I haven't placed a vote on any of the above options as I'm not sure my opinion fitted in anywhere.
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by exHowfener »

Well, just to add an alternative point of view - I think the 'Chr.Ward' branding was awful. It's so faux antique and totally inappropriate for a 21st century watch company. To my eyes it always reminds me of those watches advertised at the back of Sunday newspaper supplements. You know, buy two velour jogging suits and get a free watch.
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by 0uatiOW »

I wasn’t a fan of the full Christopher Ward wordmark, left-aligned at 9. I think it was a mistake, but a) it’s not my company and b) me not liking it doesn’t make it a mistake, and c) your poll is asking about next steps. One doesn’t always correct a mistake by undoing it. Sometimes you just move on, which seems to be happening right now, to the chagrin of some. You just can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Mike France has reported that the rebrand led to a huge rise in sales. It’s difficult to argue against data, however, it did coincide with a rather eye-catching C65 (some say it was an homage to the Oris Diver 65) and then the new C60, both of which, we are told, sold very, very well. Mike also stated at the time that CW had attracted a huge number of new (and younger) customers. Again cause and effect are difficult to separate, but I accept his assertion that the full name in the cleaner, sans serif font appealed to a younger demographic that the relatively old fashioned Chr.Ward, in a more traditional font. As an older customer, I preferred the “older” logo.

No-one will ever know whether the same new watches would have sold in greater or lesser quantities with the Chr.Ward logo, but if the sales volumes exploded as we have been told, if it was a mistake, then it wasn’t fatal. One final thought - if the whole ruse was to attract new, younger customers, at an earlier stage in their watch buying journey, then it seems to have worked.
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by asqwerth »

Were the onion hands really more original? Don't get me wrong, I like them, but at the time, there were people saying it was too much like the Bremont Supermarine S500. So moving the trident models away from that could be justified for that reason.

Anyway I didn't answer your poll because I've never been that bothered by any of the logos.
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by jf72 »

0uatiOW wrote: Mon May 02, 2022 1:32 am I wasn’t a fan of the full Christopher Ward wordmark, left-aligned at 9. I think it was a mistake, but a) it’s not my company and b) me not liking it doesn’t make it a mistake, and c) your poll is asking about next steps. One doesn’t always correct a mistake by undoing it. Sometimes you just move on, which seems to be happening right now, to the chagrin of some. You just can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Mike France has reported that the rebrand led to a huge rise in sales. It’s difficult to argue against data, however, it did coincide with a rather eye-catching C65 (some say it was an homage to the Oris Diver 65) and then the new C60, both of which, we are told, sold very, very well. Mike also stated at the time that CW had attracted a huge number of new (and younger) customers. Again cause and effect are difficult to separate, but I accept his assertion that the full name in the cleaner, sans serif font appealed to a younger demographic that the relatively old fashioned Chr.Ward, in a more traditional font. As an older customer, I preferred the “older” logo.

No-one will ever know whether the same new watches would have sold in greater or lesser quantities with the Chr.Ward logo, but if the sales volumes exploded as we have been told, if it was a mistake, then it wasn’t fatal. One final thought - if the whole ruse was to attract new, younger customers, at an earlier stage in their watch buying journey, then it seems to have worked.
hmm when they changed their logo I recall they had an enormous 'reduced-to-clear' sale... they were selling old stock at like a 50% discount and annoying some CW owners at the time who worried it was devaluing their stock. i reckon that contributed to sales. i don't have access to data, but anecdotally, i don't hear the brand spoken about any more or less than before, their social media followers have increased only a bit in 5 years and the forum feels like busy than it used to (but that may just be a reality of the time)
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by Radboud »

The historic mistake is using Christopher Ward for the brand name..
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Re: In hindsight...was the Christopher Ward rebrand of 2016 a historic mistake?

Post by thomcat00 »

I’ve said elsewhere Christopher Ward should stay with the twin flags logo. The earlier use of the brand name on the dial has been fine with me in several iterations. The cleaner, Swish-only look suits the watches and sits well with me.


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