The Christopher Ward watch brand has developed a bit of a reputation among watch enthusiasts of providing offerings that compete with the bigger watch brands at much lower prices. The brand says that it provides “the cheapest most expensive watches in the world.” Its claim is that it can do this through its direct to consumer sales method, through which it has been selling watches since 2005 (CW was cutting out the middle man before the term had become a cliché).
Having never actually handled a Christoper Ward watch, I was curious if the claims stacked up. I acquired one pre-owned one through a popular online watch forum, and thought that I would put together a quick review. The fact that it is pre-owned explains some of the minor dings and scratches you'll see in the photos.
The watch in question is the brand's C65 Trident Automatic. The model is categorized in its "retro dive" category, and appears to be the brand's answer to watches like the Oris Diver 65 and Tudor's Black Bay. The C65 is a similar size at 41mm, and packs the boxed crystal, aluminum bezel insert, and Super-LumiNova "Aged Radium" lume that are par for the course in the category.
Unlike those models, however, the C65 Trident automatic comes in under $1000 (roughly half that of the Oris, and a quarter of the price of a Black Bay). Because Christopher Ward is a relatively young brand, another difference is that the C65 Trident is not based on model from the brand's catalog from 60 years ago. The result is that the watch still has the retro charm, but is not an "homage" to anything else. It has the familiar cues, but is still a unique and coherent design.
The version that I obtained is the black dial and bezel version, which seems to have been discontinued. Christopher Ward does still still sell this model in all blue, or with black dial and a red bezel.
The C65 features a matte black dial which is very clean, with minimal text. The subtle brand logo is recessed, and only visible from certain angles. The downside of this clean logo is that the brand text is offset, throwing off the symmetry. Also, at first I felt that the round hour marker were mounted too far inward in relation to the rectangular ones. Upon second glance though, I decided that it is a fun design trait. Otherwise, the dial is a hit, and quite legible. The raised hour markers with polished surrounds create visual interest on the dial. The date window is also well-integrated.
The main hands are attractive, and feature facets which help to catch the light. A nice surprise was that the tip of the seconds hand is also lumed. I am not a fan of seconds hands with elaborate counter balances, such as this one with the trident logo, but it's not the worst that I've seen.
The trident's case is one aspect that is impressive for the price. the alternating brushed and polished finishing looks great, and Christopher Ward did a great job of slimming (visually and physically) the watch. At just over 11mm thick, it is actually quite thin for a dive watch (this measurement includes the domed crystal). The even thinner case band and sloped bezel visually accentuates this. It wraps around the wrist, making it quite comfortable.
The 120 click bezel also feels precise, with high-quality clicks. It is fairly easy to grip, with moderate friction.
The crown surprisingly does not screw down. Surprising for a dive watch, but in every-day life it is not actually a concern, as the watch still offers 150m of water-resistance.
The bracelet is another area of the C65 that provided a pleasant surprise. A very convenient ratcheting adjustment, combined with quick-release spring bars make it very easy to adjust as well as remove. The current models can also be purchased on a number of different straps.
Behind the embossed case-back sits a Sellita SW200-1 movement. The 26-jewel beats at a 4Hz frequency and holds a 38-hour power reserve. The rotor is said to have a "Colimaçoné" finish and is engraved with CW's twin flags pattern.
As mentioned earlier, the Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic undercuts similar watches by a significant margin. Although it does not pack an in-house movement like the newest Tudor Black Bay models, it provides a compelling alternative to the earlier ETA-based Tudors.
A better comparison yet is the Oris Diver 65, which houses the same Sellita movement. The Oris is available in more sizes and dial colors, and the dial is better-executed. The hour markers on the CW are more raised though, making them slightly more attractive. Additionally, its bracelet blows away that on the roughly $2,000 Oris (depending on the version), which does not feature a quick-adjust clasp, or quick release.
At less than half the price of its closest competition, the Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic is worth a look if you're in the market for a vintage-inspired diver.
What are your thoughts on the Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic? Is it a better alternative to the more expensive "retro dive" competition? Let us know in the comments.
Name: Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic
Reference Number: C65-41ADA1
Price: $845/$965 on Strap/Bracelet (for Blue or Black/Red - Black now discontinued)
Dimensions: 41mm diameter, 47mm lug-to-lug, 11.5mm thick, 22mm lug width
Movement: Sellita SW200-1
Water Resistance: 150m
Crystal: Sapphire with blue AR coating on the underside
Bezel: Unidirectional with aluminum insert, 120 clicks
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet