C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

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Amor Vincit Omnia
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C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

NB. Not part of the current catalogue. In production from July 2015 to March 2017.

Marine Chronometer. In my very layman-like and non-technical reading around the subject of horological history, this is the term that makes my heart beat a little faster, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, provokes an emotional reaction unlike any other.

Why so? If you are unfamiliar with the story and want the full explanation, you should read Dava Sobel’s wonderful book “Longitude” or watch the TV miniseries based on it. How to prevent thousands of needless deaths at sea, in miserable conditions aboard disease-ridden ships? Deaths caused by a lack of knowledge, and in at least one case by the pigheaded intransigence of high command.

It’s the story of John Harrison (1693-1776) and his lifelong work to produce a horological solution to the “Longitude Problem”. Although to my grandmother’s annoyance and disappointment I didn’t follow my father and grandfather into the Navy, it’s still in my blood and I’m never happier than when I’m on a ship, even if it’s only the Portsmouth to Cherbourg ferry. I have stood before the Harrison clocks at Greenwich several times, and I don’t mind admitting that I feel pretty emotional when I see them.

Long history, short account: the box chronometer, developed in the late 18th century, remained an essential part of every ship’s navigation equipment until the age of GPS. The pocket chronometer or deck watch was used in conjunction with it to carry the results of astronomical observations to the ship’s chronometer.

Box chronometer and pocket chronometer:

F90D037E-266A-4095-9629-A59AE52B48AC.jpeg
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Fast forward to the age of the wristwatch, and pieces produced by several manufacturers that are essentially a homage (excuse the term, but I think it’s appropriately deferential here) to the style of the pocket chronometer: Ulysse Nardin, Nomos, Stowa and others. My personal favourite from a brand I love:

C056DF4C-5971-4584-83A3-5AAE33B2EAA5.png

I was in the forefront of forum members hoping that Christopher Ward would eventually produce something along those lines. When the C9 5-Day Small Second with the SH21 movement made its appearance all my ducks seemed to have lined up: wearable size, hand wound, Roman numerals, small seconds subdial, elegant blue hands, chronometer movement, undeniably a thing of beauty…and I didn’t buy one! My main reason was that I didn’t think it was slim enough; I was also looking at something different at the time.

However, I kept looking at this watch and feeling considerable regret that I had not gone for it from the outset. Finally something made me put up a WTB post and within a short time I had one in my possession, courtesy of a long-standing and highly respected forum member.

Case: the perfect dress watch? I must admit that with a case diameter of 40 mm and a height of 12.3 mm it is perhaps a little large for that function, though it does slip under a cuff. As with many of the older CWs it has a slightly slab sided appearance, but they hadn’t got around to the Lightcatcher case at the time. The L2L of under 48 mm means that it doesn’t actually wear too big.

All of these things, of course, cease to matter when you turn the watch over and look through the exhibition case back; it seems as though they used the smallest case that was viable for the movement. And what a movement, but more of that later.

Dial: I would say almost perfect. The company’s greatest ever logo is centred below 12: CHR. WARD LONDON. The small seconds subdial is lovely, though I feel that a railway track and Arabic indices every 10 seconds would have been perfect. The Roman numerals are beautifully printed, if a little on the small and thin side; whilst this approach, the polar opposite of that taken by Cartier or Ulysse Nardin (q.v.) is undoubtedly very elegant, it does leave quite a lot of space on the pristine white dial. I would also have preferred the more traditional IIII to IV. I love the blued hands which, although delicate, have great contrast in most light conditions. Useless in the dark, of course, but I think lume would ruin this dial in any form. The date is both legible and unobtrusive.

Image

Movement: as I implied above, the SH21 is a sizeable movement. It is, as many will know, a hand wound 5-day chronometer movement that uses twin barrels to power the watch for an advertised 120 hours. The movement diameter means that the exhibition caseback is able to cover almost the entire diameter of the watch. There is a good view of the barrels and the balance wheel, though a very large bridge covers most of the movement. Although hand finished, this is decorated in a rather minimalist way, though the gold filling on the numbers and letters is a nice touch. No Côtes de Genève or Perlage here.


Image

The movement performs its function extremely well, and is surprisingly easy to wind up to full power. Mine appears to lose less than one second per day if full power is maintained, though timekeeping does drift a little by the fourth and fifth days. It also ran for over 131 hours, therefore easily surpassing the claimed 120 hours.

Bracelet/strap: this watch came on the bracelet, but I will need to have it resized at some point. As the bracelet is not adjustable to 5 positions and is quite shiny overall, I might just keep it on straps. I had a beautiful unused blue alligator that looks purple in some lights and just suits the watch to perfection.


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Conclusion: I think this is a superb watch. I was a fool not to get one when it first came out, but I’m really glad to have one now. Visually it is elegant, clean and classy – no garish colours here, thank you. I once described the Nomos Tangente as “JS Bach for the wrist.” I think this one has similar qualities. Calm seas and a prosperous voyage, shipmates.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by cincfleet »

What a superb post Steve, interesting and great accompanying photos. The C9 5-Day Small Second is my favourite and the one I regret not purchasing.
Thanks for the post :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by missF »

It’s a righteous tale of a watch going to its rightful owner. And a tale well told :D
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by strapline »

A fine thread, Steve. Your delight at finally realising ownership of your C9 SH21 is palpable and rewarding for all onlookers. It would appear that the ebb and flow of watch collection has finally lead you to where you were meant to be.

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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by jkbarnes »

This is a CW grail for me. Someday I’ll hopefully have one. When I look at the dial, I think dress watch. When I look at the rather tall, slab sided case, I think utilitarian. Given the history of this style of watch, I think the utilitarian looking case is appropriate.

Great review and fantastic pics. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by MiniMpi »

A great review of this now Classic CW model Steve :clap:
It's currently the only 40mm model I own but because of the crisp white dial with a small bezel, it works very well on my wrist.
The movement view is stunning and well done in my opinion.
A real favourite in my collection.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by jkbarnes »

MiniMpi wrote: Thu Mar 24, 2022 9:22 pm A real favourite in my collection.
A real favorite of mine in your collection, too! :lol:

I’m jealous of you both. That’s an exceptional watch.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by Martin »

I enjoyed reading this. It struck me as I read it that it was ( big subjective comment alert) a better piece of writing than the example of your travel writing presented fairly recently. Or, I just enjoyed this piece more. It led me to imagine a piece that described a journey from the east of England to Greenwich that incorporated, in historical terms, the journey from Harrison's chronometer to the CW recently purchased.My next thought wondered how a watch like the Meistersinger came about. Why was it created? When I first saw such a watch it threw me completely: I just did not understand it. A bit like some of the extra buttons many watches have. What do they do? When I first joined the forum it was largely to learn, my starting point with a watch then was 'I can tell the time and that is what a watch does.'
Agree completely about 'Longitude'. A journey within a journey about many thousands of journeys. Anyway, enough waffling, thanks again for all the time taken to show your watch in such an engaging way.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Martin wrote: Fri Mar 25, 2022 5:56 am I enjoyed reading this. It struck me as I read it that it was ( big subjective comment alert) a better piece of writing than the example of your travel writing presented fairly recently.
An excellent post and lovely comment; thank you. I’m not quite sure which piece of travel writing you are referring to. I’m currently on a rather nice boat watching the sun rise over the Nile. I only have the phone with me so research facilities are limited. PS. This could well be a journey with a book in it!
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

I thought I’d revive this thread. I didn’t have long with the watch when it arrived, as I was preparing to take the MeisterSinger on an epic Nile trip.

Well, when I returned from Egypt at the end of March I got this one out of storage, wound and set it. I have worn it for the odd day here and there, and have probably wound it on average every two days. Checking it this afternoon, after more than two weeks, it appears to be one second slow. I think we can rightly called this a chronometer. Mr Harrison would have been impressed.

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C9SS 16 04 22
Notes for the purists: I was aware that I hadn’t quite aligned the minute hand perfectly when I set it, but I couldn’t be bothered to stop the watch and reset it. :lol:
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by albionphoto »

This is definitely not to my taste. This is a great review though and I do like to read about CWs that pre-date my interest in CW. Thanks.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by JAFO »

It's definitely to my taste, Steve. I'm not normally so keen on Roman numerals, but these are done with a good deal of delicacy. The date is unobtrusive, but it would also have looked good without a date. I just checked the thickness, and 12.3mm is perhaps on the thick side for a handwinder, but from the notes in the thread I thought it was going to be even thicker. It must make a lovely dress watch on a leather strap.

Thanks for reactivating the thread. :D

I've just re-read, and I much prefer this treatment to the UN. I also prefer the absence of the VI marker, compared with the small cut off number on the UN.

The first time I tried a large undecorated style like this, I thought it was very big, but gradually I became accustomed to it, and now it looks quite normal. Does yours still seem big?

One was a CW 595 which I sold on. The second was a Calvin Klein Infinite, also 40mm. CK briefly had some automatics with ETA 2824 inside that they remaindered for less than £150.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

It was Mark who bumped the thread! :D

It perhaps a little large for a dressy watch, but who cares? It’s a stunner.
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by albionphoto »

Amor Vincit Omnia wrote: Mon Jan 09, 2023 5:00 pm It was Mark who bumped the thread! :D

It perhaps a little large for a dressy watch, but who cares? It’s a stunner.
There are two irregular posters to this section; me and AVO. I'm just checking out the competition :D :D :D
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Re: C9 5-Day Small Second - CW’s “Marine Chronometer”

Post by Soporsche »

Great original post Steve, really enjoyed the context and review. I greatly admire this watch for many reasons.
As an aside and of little relevance to the specific watch, I also have a history of seafaring in my ancestry and have also stood before and admired the Harrison clocks in Greenwich. As my son was born in Greenwich and because of the family history it was an inspiration for us naming our son Harrison!
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