Christopher Ward has just launched a Super Compressor C65 model, which has bold colours and more than respectable dive rating as part of the package. The RRP of £895 makes this SW200 powered watch a bargain we reckon.
The clever thing about a super compressor is that it uses the pressure of water to squish the O-Ring gasket inside, so the case doesn’t allow water in near the winding crown. That’s it. No helium valves, no triple-layered glass crystals, or super heavy bronze cases.
It’s a neat bit of mid-50s ingenuity that sums up that `can-do’ WW2 spirit that solved so many technical problems back then.
Here’s the word from British brand CW;
Co-founder and CEO Mike France and head of product design Adrian Buchmann acquired an original Super Compressor case, which the team in Switzerland reverse-engineered, aided and abetted by original drawings. France and Buchmann, however, realised that the resultant timepiece had to be a Super Compressor for the 21st century. It would benefit from lubricants and seals not available to its makers in the period from the mid-1950s to the early-1970s. But any changes would aggravate the pedants and purists.
When asked why the C65 Super Compressor featured an exhibition caseback, France said, “We wanted to do something never done before, to allow people to see the compression spring that allows the compressor action. Even though the spring is only 300 microns thick – roughly four times the thickness of a human hair – those with good eyesight (or if you’re like me, a loupe) can see the spring sitting within the compressor ring. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Further to disarm purists, he adds, “As you know, with the exacting standards of our modern case manufacture, a sapphire crystal back plate offers the same water resistance as a steel or titanium one.”
Another change from the original, which relied on superior O-rings, was fitting a screw-down crown. Explains France, “This has become one of the features watch reviewers often tick off as being a requirement on a modern watch. Even though it isn’t necessary for optimum water resistance, given the modern tolerances of the case and the high quality of modern gaskets, we wanted our customers to have a real sense of security which a screw-down crown gives, so we made an early decision to include it in the design.”
As for the lack of screw-down capability on the crown that operates the rotating inner bezel, he says, “It’s not necessary as it’s a single position crown – it doesn’t open – and it needs to be easy to used by the diver, which a screw-down crown isn’t. Although the chance of water ingress is remote, we have further added to the water resistance by using four gaskets in total around this crown: two outer and two internal. Your average duck would be more than happy with this arrangement.”
Examining pre-production examples, this fan of Super Compressors noted the appeal of its svelte 41mm case. The view through the back affords the opportunity to examine the compressor spring encircling the Sellita SW200 automatic movement; it’s orange so you can’t miss it. Orange is also used to accent the crown for the inner bezel, the triangle at 12 o’clock, the minute hand and the tip of the seconds hand – chosen for optimum legibility. Seasoned Super Compressor fans will have much to admire.