Christopher Ward have produced some very sharp designs over the last few years. Although critics moan about Swiss movements being used, rather than UK built movements, you have to admire the combo of UK design with Swiss level build touches. These are not unreasonably priced watches, considering they’re assembled in Britain where labour costs are high.
Here’s the word from Christopher Ward;
Crafted in Grade 2 titanium, the C63 watch head weighs a featherlight 45g, and is also the first CW timepiece with a retractable crown – something that stops it digging into your hand when cycling or rock climbing, and which prevents unexpected knocks to the movement, too.
WE LOVE THE CROWN – NOT THE TV SHOW, OBVIOUSLY
Yes, the crown is the erm..crowning glory on this model, as it has that Thunderbirds vibe when it’s hidden away beneathe the case edge. Add water-resistance to 150m, and you’ve got a pro timing instrument that’s elite in every way.
Those little cut-outs on the edge of the dial are a nice extra feature too, kinda like air vents. That trident second hand catches the eye.
Inside it has a Sellita movement, with a decorated rotor. You can view it occasionally through the caseback glass too, nice work all round. At 40mm this is the ideal sized all-rounder watch, bit sporty, but not in-your-face like a Breitling Navi or an IWC Pilot.
It’s on pre-order right now, at £1150, which is a special price – rises to £1380 later in the year. More here.
Christopher Ward has launched the C60 Sapphire Black. Like the original C60 Sapphire, the dial is made from ultra-thin, scratch-resistant sapphire. However, here, the sapphire has been ‘smoked’ – something that’s achieved through a complex process called physical vapour deposition (PVD). This involves placing the sapphire in a vacuum chamber filled with a vapour of silver and carbon graphite – heated to 400°C – for three hours. It’s then put in another chamber, this time filled with silicon oxide vapour, which adds protection.
The result is a subtly tinted transparent dial, says CW, that allows you to see deep into the Sellita SW200-1 movement. And with a compressive strength of 2,000 megapascals, it’s not just beautiful but incredibly tough, too. The dial is only part of the story. Turn the watch over and you can see the movement from behind thanks to the sapphire caseback, while the Light-catcher™ case is not only graceful but thin enough to slip under a shirt cuff. And at 40mm in diameter, pretty much suits every wrist.
Engineered to the requirements of a professional diving instrument, the watch is water-resistant to 600m, while the unidirectional bezel allows you to time your ascents – a vital safety tool for divers. Finally, power comes from the highly regarded Sellita SW200-1 movement, which delivers accuracy under the most testing of conditions. It’s on pre-order right now priced at £795.
There’s a blue version too, which is the same price.
Verdict: Great value automatics at this price are rare, you’re getting Swiss movement quality for about £500 less than entry level prestige brands that also use Sellita engines. Hard to fault CW as a value choice and this model has that Meccano fascination with the movement gears and jewels on show.
There are some who love UK brand Christopher Ward and others who regard their Sellita powered watches as essentially entry level and therefore not quite prestige. Maybe a Tissot has more heritage, and even a Hamilton Ventura has cool vibes? Well, you can argue those points down the pub – actually you probably can’t as the pubs are closing down like 20th century blacksmiths, but that’s another story.
The C60 Sapphire is a starter watch, no question. But what good value it offers. Beautiful blue tinted caseback lets you see the 26 jewel movement and the crystal has a blue tinge as well. Inside, the SW200 engine is based on an ETA 2824 which is arguably one of the great workhorse Swiss movements of modern times. Reliable and accurate? Of course.
True, you’re buying a £900 watch, not a 9K Swiss watch from a House of Horology. For that bargain price you would not expect a depth rating of 600m but you do get that with the C60. Impressive. It’s a 40mm, 316 grade stainless steel case, with a uni-directional click bezel too. This is a watch that can handle an afternoon lolling about in the pool on holiday, or a scuba dive off the coast of Portugal into deep water – no worries.
Add in features like a quick change strap/bracelet release and you’re being snobby if you don’t consider this as a genuinely decent watch for the money. OK, you may lose say 50% of the value if you choose to sell after 3 years or so, but there are some brands and watches where you could easily lose a bigger percentage.
If watch collecting isn’t about investment, but rather enjoyment, then we reckon the C60 Sapphire is one model that you’ll keep wearing just because you love the deep blue looks. That’s no bad thing, life is for living.
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.
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.
UPDATE: This show has been postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing local lockdowns and general restrictions on gatherings.
The Watch It fair, originally scheduled for late June, has been pushed back to 14th November, due to the lasting effects of Covid-19 and the restrictions on having too many people in one place.
The show features independent UK watch brands, watch dealers, plus watch repair specialists too. Pinion, Farer, Christopher Ward and Hamtun are amongst some of the brands exhibiting at this laidback event.
The location will be at the stunningly beautiful and brand-spanking new marquee at Brownsover Hall Hotel, Rugby, Warwickshire (https://www.brownsoverhall.co.uk/) – just minutes from junction 1 of the M6 and junction 18/19 of the M1.
The event is on Saturday 14th November, between 13:00 – 18:00.