Compression Obsession: Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Revives a Classic Dive Watch Design


Great Britain’s Christopher Ward was the first modern-day U.K. watch brand to develop an in-house caliber in the 21st century, and now it becomes the first watchmaker — British, Swiss, or otherwise — to revive a style of divers’ watch that was once immensely popular but has languished as a relic of the past for almost 50 years — the so-called Super Compressor case. Here is what you need to know about the all-new C65 Super Compressor and why it’s such a major deal.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - Front
Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor (above and below)
Christopher Ward C65_Super Compressor - Front 2

“Super Compressor” was the name given to a type of complex-structured dive-watch case, developed and manufactured by the Swiss firm Ervin Piquerez and used by watch brands from IWC to Tissot to Jaeger-LeCoultre to Girard-Perregaux, among many others, from the late 1950s through the 1970s. It was designed to increase its strength and integrity as it descended deeper underwater, with external pressure on the caseback compressing the O-ring gasket, and included a rotating bezel, operated by a second crown, under the crystal rather than outside the case. While several watch brands in the modern era have used the Super Compressor as a design inspiration for their dive-watch cases, a “true” Super Compressor has not been on the market since E. Piquerez discontinued production of the style in the 1970s (and eventually went out of business in the 1990s).

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - Crown
A cross-hatch pattern adorns one of the two crowns.
Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - case
The case is water-resistant to 150 meters.

For the new C65 Super Compressor, which arrives in two dial colors and an array of bracelet options, Christopher Ward “reverse engineered” the original design to create its barrel-shaped case, with the built-in 300-micron-thick compression spring that bestows the case its name. Measuring 41 mm in stainless steel and 13.05 mm thick, the case has two screw-down crowns on the side — one for winding and setting the time, the other for setting dive times on the inner bezel, which rotates with 120 distinctive clicks. Under a box-type sapphire crystal, the dial (in “Ocean Blue” or “Black Sand”) features Super-LumiNova Grade X1 GL C1 on the hands and indices, the latter with diamond-polished facets. The seconds hand has Christopher Ward’s signature Trident-shaped counterweight.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - Index
Orange highlights the tip of the seconds hand.
Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - Helmet
A diver’s helmet is found on the aluminum ring that covers the compression spring.

The outer case ring that allows for a view of the compression spring is colored orange, a color also used on the crown for the inner bezel, the bezel’s orientation triangle at 12 o’clock, and the seconds hand’s tip. The ring is made of anodized aluminum and is stamped with a diver’s helmet. Inside the 150-meter water-resistant case, behind an exhibition back, a Swiss-made Sellita SW200 automatic movement beats at a brisk 28,800-vph frequency and amasses a power reserve of 38 hours. The rotor is decorated with a twin-flag engraving over a Colimaçone finish. The Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor is not only the first “real” Super Compressor divers’ watch of the 21st Century; it’s also accessibly priced, starting at 895 British pounds on a strap and 1,000 pounds on a steel bracelet.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - Caseback
The movement is a Swiss-made Sellita SW200.
Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor - Wristshot
The C65 is the first “true” Super Compressor watch in almost 50 years.
11 Responses to “Compression Obsession: Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Revives a Classic Dive Watch Design”

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  1. Rick Butt

    I have the GMT which is nice, don’t see how this watch resembles the JLC Master Compressors of which I have three.

    Reply
  2. Nice watch, but, disgraceful that the dial text is out of alignment. Didn’t they check during production

    Reply
    • I know a great shame because otherwise its a lovely watch.

      But it is glaringly obvious especially on the blue dial which is the one I was considering.

      Reply
  3. I think that you will find the the Farer aqua compressor was the first real compressor watch of the 21st century.

    Reply
  4. Peter Davies

    I think your article is incorrect. Farer watch company, also a UK brand, introduced a super compressor dive watch in 2017 so the CW is NOT the first modern super compressor at all. Check out the Farer Aqua Compressor range, the technical specification of the case design and construction clearly shows the super compressor fundamentals and has been in production since 2017, firstly in stainless steel and currently in titanium.
    I believe an apology to Farer, and a printed correction would be appropriate. Unless you can prove otherwise of course.

    Reply
    • Corey Vlahos

      Hi Peter, what sets the Christopher Ward model apart from other Super Compressor-style watches of today is that it’s the only one that duplicates the originally technology exactly — that is, the use of a compressor spring as part of the case as well as the O-ring gaskets. No one else makes or uses the original E. Piquerrez device anymore, which is why Ward had to reverse engineer it.

      Reply
  5. Adam McCormack

    A truly buityfull purpose built tool watch with character and class

    Reply
  6. Dan Henry has had one or for a couple of years now…
    1970s Automatic Diver Compressor, maybe not a big name like CW of using in house movements but certainly known amongst watch collectors.

    Reply
    • Corey Vlahos

      Hey Bob, what sets the Christopher Ward model apart from other Super Compressor-style watches of today is that it’s the only one that duplicates the originally technology exactly — that is, the use of a compressor spring as part of the case as well as the O-ring gaskets. No one else makes or uses the original E. Piquerrez device anymore, which is why Ward had to reverse engineer it.

      Reply
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