Get Your Funk On – Introducing the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph
Editor’s note: This is a (short) Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph watch. For our detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here.
What is it: The new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph
Why: The brand didn’t have a chronograph model in their C65 design family, and also wanted to release a more funky, retro, “psychedelic” in their own words, watch
When released: 30th October 2020
Where: Non-limited, online global release
Who is it for: For the lover of the late-’60s and early-’70s style and charm that the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph epitomises. Plus like all CW watches — a sexy, colourful chrono in their C65 light-catcher case that’s loaded with extras such as 150m water-resistance, push-down crown and pushers, a bit of youthful colours, and a decent 48-hour power-reserve — it is pretty good value for money at $2’615 AUD.
How does it do: It marks two firsts for the Anglo-Swiss brand – it’s their first ever automatic chronograph in the C65 retro dive watch collection and the first ‘bicompax’ mechanical chronograph. And as a bi-compax chronograph that’s meant to give enticing retro-vibes, it fits the bill with the stunning combination of blue, red and white. And sprinkle a hint of orange.
Missing: A bit of a rant here I am afraid. When I first opened the press email without scrolling down further to see the pictures, the mention of “psychedelia” colours and “wild thing” really threw me off. Christopher Ward compared this timepiece to a watch “David Bowie might wear”. Since I usually end up liking everything CW does, my hopes went through the roof.
But I think here the watch fails to reflect any of those. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty bold timepiece that seems to be a fun timepiece that will complement any watch collection, but there is nothing extraordinarily wild or psychedelic art or psychedelia about it. It is ‘oh, okay, looks great’, but not wild.
Perhaps this is one of those timepieces that have to be checked out in person to reflect what the brand is trying to say, but simply based off press images, it doesn’t reflect the above ideas.
From the examples of psychedelia I have seen online, that extraordinary weird array of colours is missing. The use of colours is pretty standard for the industry — blue dial — and I would have been more content if they had said it was inspired by the colours of the British Union Jack rather than a visually-strong notion such as ‘psychedelia’. I think CW was going for that vibe but it unfortunately doesn’t come through.
On the other hand, they have a photo of a sketch to go long with this release, and while that’s brilliantly colourful, reminiscent of psychedelia, the watch if it’s a copy, is simply not. Says Mike France, CEO and co-founder: “We approached Craig & Karl with the idea… They came back with an illustration so amazing we put it on the front of our Loupe magazine. There’s even talk of making a one-off C65 Chronograph based on their design”.
The illustration is by the artist duo Craig & Karl, and their version of the chronograph is very psychedelic art inspired indeed and that’s one funky watch I would love to see!
I am sorry if it’s coming off as negative here, that’s certainly not the idea. I love the watch as a youthful, retro-inspired chronograph, but it’s not as ‘wild’ as they claim it to be. Or maybe it is by the ‘stiff-upper-lip’ British standards.
Bottom line, I do really like it, and I appreciate the direction the brand is going in by releasing two bi-compax chronos within this month — the other being the C60 Chronograph — but a wild psychedelic coloured watch it is not. Rant over.
The new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph features an automatic winding outsourced calibre Sellita SW510 BHa that is based on the iconic Valjoux 7750 movement. The former is derived from the Sellita caliber SW500-1 and the latter from the Valjoux Caliber 7733.
Briefly, the Valjoux 7750 movement is an extensively used — being easier to mass-produce and distribute in high-volume — workhorse, trustworthy chronograph movement whose variations have been powering timepieces from numerous brands since gaining popularity in the late 1970s to early 80s. Mechanically, it is different from most other chronograph movements as it does away with the column wheel and uses a three-plane cam system instead.
Coming back to the watch of the hour, the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph’s Sellita version like the Valjoux 7750 beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 Vph), has a timing tolerance of +/- 20 sec p/day, features 27 jewels — adding two extra jewels compared to Valjoux 7750 to reduce friction over time — and boasts of a decent 48-hour power reserve.
Christopher’s main competitor for this release perhaps would be another British brand Farer’s Moritz chronograph, that also uses the Swiss-made Sellita SW510 BH Elaboré grade movement — manual-wind version — with a skeleton framework and bespoke high end bridge with engraved Farer monogram chequered sports pattern.
This chronograph sports watch with matte navy blue dial and 3 counters retails for a similar price — £15 cheaper — but doesn’t have the coolness of the bi-compax layout of the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph. The Farer version is also a lot more busier on the dial and sans the retro-sports vibe reminiscent of the spirit of the late-1960s when everything from pop art to pop music was influencing watch design that is reflected in the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph.
The 30mm diameter and 7.90mm thick movement allows for central hacking seconds, features an anti-shock system, and is decently decorated with the twin-flag engraving over ‘Colimaçoné’ finish on the rotor. It offers central hours and minutes, small seconds, a chronograph and a date calendar complication, and is encased inside a 41mm diameter and 15mm thick 316L stainless steel ‘light-catcher’ case.
The brushed and polished marine-grade steel case elevates the play of light, hence the name, and this light-catcher case especially on the C65 family of watches is one of the reasons why I love CW watches so much, and to find out more about it, please check out our detailed 7000+ word review of the CW C65 Trident Automatic here.
It is priced at the same mark as the new C60 Chronograph and has the same movement specs, but one important aspect to note is the while the C60 version features a unidirectional zirconia (ZrO²) ceramic bezel, the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph features an aluminium bezel instead. The aluminium ones usually are more likely to scratch faster and easier than the ceramic versions, and for anyone undecided between the two should take that into consideration.
The rest of the case specifications are:
- 83g weight
- Lug to lug interhorn spacing 47.1mm
- Strap width 22mm
- Water resistance: 15 ATM (150 metres)
Talking about the watch, Mike France, CEO and co-founder says: “The watch is a celebration of colour and the bold, optimistic spirit of the era. But make no mistake, this is also a cutting-edge chronograph that offers you a wealth of timing options.
“Think of it like this. The ’60s are coming to an end, the ’70s are looming, and everything’s become a little louder. We’re heading towards glam rock, and the C65 Chronograph is the sort of watch that David Bowie might wear on his way to a studio session in Soho. I may not agree with Tony Blair on everything, but I do on this: we’re at our best when at our boldest,” he further explains.
The dial is the real star here, especially that regatta-style sub-dial at 3’o clock. The look of the dial alludes to a concept where retro-dive, motorsport and regatta-watch elements all inter-mingle to beautifully grace your wrist. The dark blue dial is contrasted by white sub-dials featuring distinctive blue and red sectors on the 30-minute register at 3’o clock.
Even though the dial is a bit busy for my taste, legibility appears to be pretty good, and given the hands and indexes are infilled with Super-LumiNova® Grade X1 GL C1, the night time legibility should be fine too. See this is one watch that I really need to have in person for me to review because based on press images, neither the legibility nor the “wild” colours are coming through as exceptional which usually is the case with CW watches when I go hands-on.
Like all CW watches, changing straps is a breeze thanks to their quick-release mechanism, and the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph comes with the options of a leather strap, Tropic rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet.
Long story short, the ‘non-wild’ ‘wild’ colours do justice to this timepiece and helps it in sitting distinct from anything currently in the CW catalogue. The red coloured date text against a white wheel, the orange running seconds and chronograph seconds hands against blues and whites, the red/orange tachymeter text peeping at 1’o clock, and the orange dots at minute markings along the peripheral minuter track, all help elevate the distinctive appeal of this timepiece.
It’s a one-part quirky, one-part colourful, one-part value for money, one-part retro, and a total stunner. And in my humble opinion as a whole a solid contender for one of the best sports watches under 5K AUD released in 2020. And given it costs half of that, getting one should be a no-brainer.
To find out more about the new Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph and other CW watches, please head to their website here. All images unless stated otherwise are courtesy © 2016 Christopher Ward (London) Ltd.