Christopher Ward, the British watchmaker known for its accessibly priced professional dive watches, has today unveiled the latest update to its C65 dive watch collection, the C65 Chronograph. This particular addition looks to combine “bold colors” and “bolder ambition” in its vintage-inspired styling. The inspiration for this neo-vintage timepiece comes from the late 1960s: Christopher Ward CEO Mike France cites the model as “a celebration of color and the bold, optimistic spirit of the era” and goes on to call it “the sort of watch that David Bowie might wear on his way to a studio session in Soho.”
The new watch’s release is accompanied by a Craig & Karl original pop-art illustration commissioned by the brand, which showcases the eccentric colors and ideas of the 1960s that inspired the diver chronograph’s creation. Christopher Ward has even hinted that it might eventually develop the illustrative model as a physical, one-off piece, perhaps for one of the “unique watch” charity events that pop up through each year.
The C65 Chronograph has a formidable, 41-mm steel case, which stands proportionally on the wrist at 15 mm thick and a lug-to-lug length of 47.1-mm. The 150-meter water-resistant case features alternating brushed and polished finishing and is secured to the wrist with a triple link steel bracelet. Both the crown and the chronograph pushers screw down into the case. Surrounding the pop-art inspired dial, we find a slim, vintage-influenced unidirectional 60-minute bezel, eschewing the 15-minute countdown feature often seen on dive watches.
The dial has a white tachymetric scale on its outer edges and a sunburst blue color, matching that of the bezel, in the large central area. Along those outskirts we see the minute ring with extended, white printed tick markers, punctuated at most hours with applied indices and broken up at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions with the 30-minute chronograph counter, date window, and running seconds, respectively. It is on the 30-minute counter that we find the most “popping” element of the watch, a retro-look vintage “Heuer Skipper” design with white, blue, and red sectors. The highlighted third of this feature finds an unusual parallel on the dial proper, with the first 20-minutes of the dial’s lume markers applied in orange while the rest are in white. Other dial features include a simple set of lume-filled baton hands for the hour and minutes, and a vintage-style orange pointer to count the chronograph seconds.
Inside the C65 Chronograph is the Sellita SW510 BHa, which hosts a 48-hour power reserve and beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph. The SW510 is based on the Valjoux 7750, which may well have been used in some 1960s and ‘70s Skippers, so it seems fitting the brand opted to use this movement in this model. While appropriately used, however, the mechanism itself offers a relatively uninspiring level of timekeeping precision, rated by the brand at +/-20 seconds each day. Christopher Ward has earned a reputation for the value proposition of its timepieces, and lackluster timekeeping may well detract from that here, even though the watch will almost certainly have appeal for its novelty alone. Perhaps a chronometer-certified caliber, like others used in the C65 series, would have been a better choice.
Christopher Ward has obviously put an enormous effort into the design and production of the C65 Chronograph. This is foremost evident in the historical inspiration of those Skipper and Skipper-like models of the late 1960s and early 1970s, whose elements often included screw-down pushers and lots of eye-catching (some might argue overwhelming) details like the various colors used to denote running time and chronograph time. The effort is also seen in some of the smaller details and design choices, like using orange for both of the chronograph hands, or matching the lume dots for the first 20 minutes on the edge of the minute ring to the colors of the 30-minute chronograph counter.
Delving into that last detail, it isn’t exactly obvious from a practical standpoint why the first 20 minutes of the minute ring would be highlighted, rather than, say the first 15 minutes of the divers’ bezel. Another somewhat odd element is in the brand’s use of lume throughout the running time features, such as the dial proper and hour and minute hands, but not on the running seconds. This design choice was likely to match the lack of lume on the 3 o’clock 30-minute counter, though it is often useful to see the running seconds in the dark.
For all the pros and cons of the model, at its core is a relatively affordable divers’ chronograph that is likely to appeal to those looking for a pop of color in their watch collection rather than a go-to daily wearer. The new C65 Chronograph is available now directly through Christopher Ward for $2,055 on the steel bracelet and for $1,935 on the choice of either a rubber or leather strap.
To learn more, visit Christopher Ward’s website, here.