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Jenni France

In the run-up to Christmas, we caught up with six people close to the brand to find out how they’ll be spending the holidays. Then the team got together to nominate the current CW model they feel would best suit each as a Christmas present. Time to meet one of the country’s fastest rising opera singers, who also happens to have the tightest of links with Christopher Ward…

Jenni France performing in Anthropocene 2019

One of Britain’s rising star sopranos, and recipient of the 2018 Critic’s Choice Award, Jenni France recently appeared in an opera called Anthropocene that so impressed her father that the C65 Anthropocene was born from it – her father being none other than co-founder Mike France!

Anthropocene, the opera, was a highlight, but across the board 2019 has been an amazing, unusual year for Jenni – the biggest of her professional career – and it will be ending in an unusual way too: this will be her first Christmas in a new home with her partner and two step children. “This will be a great time to start making fresh family traditions, and I can’t wait until next year, when we’ll have a new addition to our family – we’re expecting a baby in May!”


Photo: Nick James

My stepdaughter and I have plans to go around Birmingham city centre on Christmas Eve, helping the homeless by providing them with scarves, gloves and socks, and generally spreading some cheer.”

Jenni France

Jenni’s world hardly stops for Christmas, and though she will manage to squeeze in a short break – running from Christmas Eve until 27th December – even this will be packed with incident. “My stepdaughter and I have plans to go around Birmingham city centre on Christmas Eve, helping the homeless by providing them with scarves, gloves and socks,” she says, “and generally spreading some cheer.”

December is always busy for musicians, and Jenni will also be singing the quintessential Christmas oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, several times, including once at Westminster Abbey – her first time there, as it goes, which will doubtless be thrilling and scary in equal measure. There’ll also be Christmas concerts with the Hallé Orchestra and singing with Aled Jones everywhere, from Bridgwater Hall in Manchester to London’s Barbican and the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. (This last one happily only 20 minutes from home.)


Jenni France performing in Opera Holland Park's first Strauss production Ariadne auf Naxos

Then, from the end of December through until mid-February, she’ll be in rehearsal for a very special job, one she’s been anticipating for the last 18 months: singing Alice in Gerald Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Underground at London’s Royal Opera House. “So, despite the very brief break, I’m really looking forward to getting straight back to work.”

Each Christmas as a child, Jenni would see a West End show which, she thinks, must be where her love of theatre comes from – and which makes it especially strange to think that she’s just been performing at the largest of them, the London Coliseum, in an English National Opera production of Phillip Glass’ Orphée. “That was a childhood dream come true,” she says.

There’s a crazy-busy winter ahead, then, but it’ll all be well worth it – and at least there’s that little break to look forward to. “After an extremely busy, demanding and ultimately hugely rewarding year, I’m most looking forward to pausing and just taking some time with my loved ones this Christmas,” Jenni says. “Nothing special needs to happen, I just want to be able to enjoy my partner, my wonderful stepchildren and my parents, and let the world stop spinning for a few days.”


C65 Anthropocene Limited Edition

Of all the watches partnered with people close to the brand in our Winter Stories, Jenni’s choice was by far the most obvious; having played a starring role in Scottish Opera’s Anthropocene, the 2019 production that inspired our C65 Anthropocene into being, the two made a perfect pair. In Anthropocene, Jenni plays Ice, a creature uncovered from the Arctic’s frozen landscape during a scientific expedition. It’s her character that provided an inspiration for this 200-piece limited edition’s icy white dial, with its GMT hand representative of the team’s bright expedition jackets. The C65 Anthropocene: the world’s first watch born from an opera?

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5% of the proceeds of this watch will be donated to an environmental charity selected for Christopher Ward by Scottish Opera composer Stuart MacRae.