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Feature: Christopher Ward The Twelve 36mm

A little while back, Christopher Ward released The Twelve. Why should you care? Because it combined quality and value with the integrated sports watch format in a way that’s not been seen before. At 40mm, however, it was a tiny bit too big for some. If that watch was your dream come true but just didn’t fit, then I’ve got some good news for you: they’ve made a smaller one. And in some ways, it’s even better.


The integrated look is either something you like or you don’t. I’m assuming you’re here because you’re in the former camp, henceforth known as “correct”. It is correct to like integrated sports watches, and I am very proud to admit that I was a fan long before they were cool. At least, long before this time they were cool.

I actually owned an IWC Ingenieur Mission Earth, which I would’ve kept if it were only a little smaller. I enjoyed a Royal Oak for a while, which I purchased incredibly cheap—I’m talking half the price of a Submariner today—because get this—nobody wanted them.

Long term viewers will know I sold that watch to fund sensible adulting, unfortunately long before they became worth the GDP of a midsize state. And so since then I’ve been itching to find an affordable alternative that isn’t going to put my bank manager into a coma.

Christopher Ward very kindly obliged with The Twelve, a who’s who of integrated sports watch details that would have more trouble than Maury figuring out who its real dad is. Turns out, after a blood test, it’s genetically related to Czapek after a Christopher Ward designer had a brief fling designing the Antarctique. So, I bought one.

And now they’ve done it all again, but a little further away or, more likely, smaller. This is the 36mm Twelve, and it not only adopts the multi-faceted name, but the multi-faceted design as well. It comes in steel with the Sellita calibre SW200 inside, which is good for 38 hours’ power reserve, +/-20 seconds per day and 28,800 beats per hour.

It’s also available on either a rubber strap or stainless-steel bracelet down from 25mm to 22.5mm, both quick release. Case thickness remains at 9.95mm which, whilst it doesn’t have the same manhole cover-type proportions as the large model, is still plenty thin enough for the 36mm size. The distinct proportions are in some ways more pleasing as a smaller watch, as the depth makes more of a feature of the facets.

And it is not lacking in facets. The element that took The Twelve and significantly upped its game in comparison to the old faithful Tissot PRX is very much present. The Twelve has so many angles, layers and finishes that it’s scarcely believable it can be produced at this price point. It’s honestly a stark contrast compared to the PRX, which to be fair, does start much lower in price in quartz.

The blended bezel between curved and faceted—twelve facets, you won’t be surprised to learn—the extra lip just below, the polished edge on either side—it sparkles with a complexity that’s usually found on metal costing much, much more. Compare even the Tudor Royal and you’ll see what I mean.

As a design, it’s just very well thought out. The outer case, being independent of the movement and dial, can be slimmed right down to further emphasise the slenderness. If you look closely you’ll see the dial actually sits slightly higher in the central column, using a half-millimetre of thickness in the crystal to again bring the visual height of the bezel down. It makes you wonder why so many other brands using the same movement insist on making the watches so big and so thick.

And of course the dial, rich with detail thanks to a repeating motif based on the brand’s contentious “Swish” logo, which combines both the English and Swiss flags. If you’re not a fan, I understand, but to me it’s around about 9,000 times better than writing “Christopher Ward”. You’ll get used to it, just like you did when Grand Seiko ditched the extra “Seiko”.

Complete that with hands and markers that are crisply angled and rich with a multitude of finishes and you have The Twelve, but now smaller. But there are some other details I’ve not mentioned that might not just make it as good as its bigger brother—but slightly better too.


The detail it might take a moment to notice with the 36mm Twelve is the absence of the date. Now, to some people this is worse than naming a baby, “Poopy McPoopyface”, but here I think it elevates the dial to a new level. No window to shoehorn in. No half-nibbled markers. No remembering to set the date when you haven’t worn it for a while, or it’s a short month.

It’s freedom to enjoy the watch more spontaneously in rotation, and whilst you might be thinking that if you get this watch you’ll probably want to wear it most days, there is a scenario here where the opposite might be preferable. Let me explain.

With the 40mm Twelve, the colours, bar the purple titanium model, were all pretty sensible. Even the purple, with the black rubber strap, was a fairly tame choice. And of course, in 36mm, you can be safe and go for the blue-dial version, or even the new silver dial with rose gold markers. Both very elegant, very timeless.

They’ve made a third colour too. They call it Frosted Lichen or something like that. It’s the same colour as my toothpaste tastes, a metallic minty green that enjoys being towed along behind the Tiffany Blue bandwagon without ever fully getting on board. And it’s very nice. But what makes it extra is the matching rubber strap.

Okay, so this is a true story. My wife Charlotte has joined me on this whole watch adventure and has mused and mumbled about my Twelve, but thankfully hasn’t found any particular desire to relieve me of it. Anyway, the 36mm Twelves turn up for review and she takes a look at the Furry Limpweed one, whips her Oyster Perpetual off, and immediately straps it on.

Could I get it back off her? Barely! So, guess what? We now own two Twelves. I think Patrick, the PR-whatsit guy at Christopher Ward, has sold more watches than anyone. And to make matters worse, Charlotte tells me—whilst happily wearing the minty-fresh Twelve I might add—that she’d ordered the 35mm mint green PRX the night before too that she probably doesn’t want anymore. I’ve created a monster.

Can I level any criticism at this watch? They couldn’t fit the screw-down case-back in along with the strap quick-release and the rear bolts so it’s a snap on, but it still gets 100m water-resistance and the back has notches so it lines up just right. And the crown, whilst it’s the same depth as the bigger Twelve’s, has a smaller circumference, so it is proportionally a little bit bulkier.

I’m struggling to think of negatives to say, really. I just like it so much I don’t want you to think this is somehow not what I truly, objectively believe. I suppose the price at £850 or $995 on the rubber and £1,050 or $1,225 is no cheaper than the larger model, but that’s fairly typical. And when you get so much for that price it’s not as though it feels like overpaying.

I would say that the biggest problem the watch has is its own success. You can imagine for Christopher Ward, going from the shadow of the value underworld to the bright limelight of incredible popularity is hugely rewarding, but also challenging. They want to capitalise on the opportunity and show what they’re really capable of.

But I think it’s important to keep mindful of the customers that support the brand not just in the future, but right now and through the years gone by, too. What Christopher Ward is doing at the moment is, I truly believe, excellent, and exactly what the industry needed. If it plays this right, it could well become incredible.

So that’s the Christopher Ward Twelve in 36mm, a smaller but no less impressive version of the bigger watch. What do you think? Have you been hoping for a smaller size? And where do you think Christopher Ward could go next?