This is a sports watch from the Christhoper Ward C70 Grand Prix collection, a series so far containing nine models based on the same dial pattern but with various colors. They are all named after notable cars, drivers or courses from the racing world. The name of this particular model is Brooklands, a course in Surrey, England where the first British Grand Prix was organized in 1926.
But even more interesting is the fact that this model in the only one in the C70-series that is fitted with a thermo compensated quartz caliber, the ETA 251.232, which means it’s a HEQ. For those unfamiliar with the HEQ-term (High End Quartz), it means quartz-watches with exceptional accuracy, normally defined within ± 20 seconds per year. This caliber is specified from ETA even better to ± 10 seconds.
But beware, there is an almost identical Brooklands model with an ordinary quarts-movement, be sure to pick the right model if you want a HEQ. If you can’t separate them by looking, the price tag does the trick: Brooklands HEQ is US $ 700, the ordinary model is $ 460.
The same ETA-caliber is otherwise used in some Breitling models (Emergency, Colt and Avenger Seawolf), all in a price-range at least 4-5 times that of Brooklands. There are many reasons for that price-difference, but the fact remains that this is one of the most affordable HEQs based on ETA-calibers in the marked at the moment.
Among the closer competition are the Maurice Lacroix Chrono Diver and the Certina DS Master, both equipped with the same ETA-caliber but in a price-range a bit above the Brooklands.
It need to be mentioned that the 251.232-caliber a few years ago was phased out by ETA and replaced by the twin caliber 251.233 with more or less identical specifications.
The watch presents itself in a fine box with all papers and certificates in quality looking style. The box itself would fit a timepiece more exclusive than this, the manual is easy reading and the functions are well explained.
The case is stainless steel, good looking and well crafted. The crown is screw-in type, a little surprising without a rifled edge, but big enough to be easily operated anyway.
The bezel I guess also is stainless steel with black coating, and it gives a solid impression. It has markers for every five minute, very handy since the dial is just partly marked and otherwise rather busy, as the below picture shows:
Legibility is not among the obvious qualities of the watch. In racing-style it seems natural that the inner rim of the bezel is a tachymeter-scale. But personally I’d prefer minute-markers, a more useful feature from a HEQ point of view. The main hands for hours and minutes are red with lume along the center. Really colorful this watch is, but the lume is neither very strong nor very lasting, and as it lacks lumed markers, correct time can be difficult to read in dim light or at night.
The subdial at 6 o’clock is for ordinary seconds count. To my delight with markers for each second; the alignment though is acceptable but not perfectly sharp. A small but important detail for a HEQ.
The crystal is a convex sapphire with anti-reflective coating. The convex shape keeps up the flashy look of the watch. In my experience flat crystals are more exposed to finger marks, this watch shines a bit longer after cleaning. At least that’s my observation.
The strap is made of brown leather with a ‘butterfly’ folding clasp. The ‘butterfly’ makes it a little clumsy to put on until you master the technique, but this is by no means any major drawback. I guess the advantage is that the system preserves the strap better. The wear and tear from an ordinary buckle is almost eliminated. It is also easy to adjust.
Besides being a HEQ the chronograph (stopwatch) is the main function of the watch. Its organized with a subdial at 10 o’clock is for the hours, counting up to 12, and an opposite subdial at 2 o’clock that keeps track of the 1/10 seconds. The hand of this subdial remains still until you stop the chronograph, then it jumps to the right number of fragment seconds.
There is a red center mounted hand for the minutes count, moving steps of one minute each time the (also center mounted) white seconds hand reaches 12 o’clock. I like this layout of the chronograph, especially the big hand for minute counting. This is opposite to most other chronographs that only reserves a small subdial for the minutes count and thereby makes them more difficult to read.
It’s of course possible to start the big stopwatch-hand in sync with the small one and let it run continuously and thereby keep easier track of correct time. As far as I know this do no harm to the watch, but it does affect battery life:
- 44 months without using the chronograph function
- 41 months with no more than 2 hours of chronograph usage per day
- 23 months with full-time chronograph usage
(Useful info for this particular caliber supplied in an earlier post by ppaulusz)
With chronograph running. Many busy hands.
Without chronograph running. A little bit more tidy.
The rather small date window is located at 4 o’clock, black print on white makes it OK readable under normal light conditions, nothing more. It has a quick mode date setting that works by advancing the hour hand forward in one hour steps until the date changes. As the watch keep running. Not that quick, but the benefit is so much better! This independent hour-hand function makes is possible to set for DST and change time-zones while maintaining exact time.
This It’s by solid margin the lightest HEQ in my small collection, almost making me forget I’m wearing it. Or in other words, it sits very comfortable on my wrist. The diameter is 42 mm, the weigh only 90 g.
Water resistance is 10 ATM (100 m) so it’s obviously no divers watch, and the kind of chamois leather in the strap tells me I’m better off keeping the watch completely clear of water.
This is, as all the models in the C70-series, a limited edition piece. Doesn’t mean that much perhaps, it’s hard to imagine it ever being a collector’s item, but it fascinates me a little bit anyway. Mine is #30 of 200, the numbers nicely engraved at the back. It’s also worth mentioning that the back plates of the C70 series are all differently engraved for each model.
CW offer what they call a 60:60 guarantee, giving you the opportunity to return the watch for a full refund for whatever reason within 60 days, and after that a full repair or replacement if it does develop a mechanical fault within 60 months after purchase. Quite generous warranty one must admit.
The overall look of the watch may not suit the common taste among fellow HEQ-ers , or other watch-enthusiasts for that sake, and it really did not appeal that much to me either at a first glance at the internet pictures. It took me quite some weeks to overcome my doubts and order one. But I’m glad I did! This is one of those watches that really step up the appearance ladder when seen in real life.
The dominant green color (British racing green according to CW) is fresher and brighter in real life than it looks from the pics, and the style bring up some retro thoughts of racing cars the way they looked half a century ago or so.
And the combination of the crowded dial, the black bezel, the steel case and the light brown strap really makes it look sporty and cool when you put it on. At least to me it does. It takes you easily to a point where you can like it, perhaps even love it. I’ve not come that far yet, but I’m moving.
There’s a lot about this watch that fascinates me, some of the points I first discovered when I actually got it. In a bold moment I shall consider wearing it for a dressy occasion. At least it might attract some attention.
My verdict in short:
• Good value for money
• Superb accuracy
• Functional stopwatch
• Comfortable to wear
• Independent hour hand
• Good looking watch
• Not optimal legibility
• Lume a bit weak
• Small date-window
Features / technical summary
• Date window
• Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
• Water resistant to 10 atm
• Adjustable quick-release butterfly clasp
• Leather strap
• Screw-in crown
• Screw-down case with unique serial number
• Limited edition of 200 pieces
• Tachymeter bezel and engraved back plate
• De luxe box
• Diameter: 42mm
• Height: 10.7mm
• Weight: 90g
• Case: 316L Stainless steel
• Caliber: ETA 251.232 COSC, 27 jewels
• Battery life: 2-3 years