HOT 100 2014: Chris Ward, Christopher Ward

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This year has been a milestone for British watch brand Christopher Ward. Not only is the company celebrating a decade in business, it has completed work on a project that many people might have written off as impossible – its first proprietary movement.

“To do this at this stage of our development, we think, is truly remarkable,” says founder Chris Ward. “Bigger companies have tried and failed; others that have succeeded have spent millions of Swiss Francs trying to do so. We could not have done it without an all-round effort, but particular praise goes to our master watchmakers who have been toiling over this project in Biel, Switzerland, for quite some time.”

Christopher Ward has been steadily growing in both cash and volume for the past nine years, and the business is now active in 100 countries. For Chris, the strategy has always been the same: you don’t need to spend millions of pounds on marketing budgets – just make great watches at great prices. And it’s clearly a philosophy that watch shoppers are buying into, with even early sceptics now won over according to Chris.

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“The continued growth internationally is something we are immensely proud of, and it goes to show that you do not have to spend millions of advertising dollars on movie stars to be recognised in far flung places,” he says. “Our business model has our customers doing the advertising for us via word of mouth. Internally we call it ‘spreading the Ward’.”

Chris, a die-hard Liverpool FC fan who lists watching the team climb the ranks again as another highlight next to the launch of the C9 Harrison 5-day Automatic, says that the next year will be more of the same for Christopher Ward – more international growth, more sales and more value for customers through the verticalisation created by merging with its Swiss suppliers. And on a personal note, he’ll be busy getting familiar with the art of aquaculture as he takes on a new challenge – “keeping 40 koi carp alive”.

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