Hands-On Review – C Ward C63 Sealander Automatic

The Skinny

  • Diameter: 39mm
  • Movement: Sellita SW200-1
  • Thickness: 12mm
  • Power reserve: 38 hours
  • Price: £700/$815 on the stainless steel bracelet
    £595/$695 on canvas, leather or fabric strap.

After many recent successes in the entry level Swiss diver watch arena, the new Sealander range moves Christopher Ward back on land with three new sports-oriented non-dive watches: the Sealander Elite, the Sealander GMT and the Sealander Automatic. The Sealander Elite is the top of the range and has a COSC-certified SW200-1 movement housed within a brand new 45g titanium case. The Sealander GMT has the new Sellita SW330-2 GMT movement in a stainless steel case with a white dial and handset reminiscent of the Rolex Explorer II. Finally, we have the C63 Sealander Automatic as the lowest priced member of new range, and the watch I have spent the last week wearing.

First impressions

First impressions are classic Christopher Ward… from the bamboo and leather delivery box to the ‘light-catcher’ case with its characteristic brushed and polished areas. The dial is also familiar territory with the regular handset with its long arrow hour hand and trident-ended sweep second hand. The markers too, are familiar, being re-used from the Trident dive watch range. 

Turn the watch over and the equally familiar 28800 vph Sellita SW200-1 with its branded Christopher Ward rotor and 38 hour power reserve is visible through the sapphire caseback. While the lack of new elements might start to sound mundane, these are the elements that Christopher Ward does well, so its reassuring to find these strengths deep seated in the new models. We also have something that the internet has been requesting for some time… a single logo on the dial at 12 o’clock with the resultant vertical symmetry and balance. Has Christopher Ward been swayed by popular opinion? Perhaps it has.

The Case

As mentioned above, the case is the now familiar ‘light-catcher’ design that has now become Christopher Ward’s ‘house style’. This version is reduced from the regular  40 mm width to 39mm but to be honest I only realized the size change when I looked at the spec sheet. On the wrist, I could not tell you that this is a smaller version of the regular case. The screw-down crown at 3 o’clock is signed with the company’s alternate two-flag logo as usual.

Two distinct features typify this case design. Firstly, the case features alternating layers of brushed and polished finishes. On the C63 Automatic, the unadorned bezel features radial brushing on top, with a high polished bevel leading to circumferentially brushed sides. This echoes the case treatment as we continue down, with brushing on top, polished bevels dropping to brushed sides above a final polished bevel returning to the case back. These alternating finishes firstly disguise the height of the watch well, which is not insignificant at a measured 11.6mm. Secondly, the finishing lends the watch a distinct air of quality not often seen at this price point.

The second distinctive feature of the case is the curving nature of the lugs which descend from the mid-case towards your wrist and finish in an undercut stopping them seeming too long for the watch or out of proportion. Overall, this is a comfortable, modern, high quality steel steel sports watch case treads the fine line between restraint and flashy. One really has to break out the loupe to find any faults in the finishing.

The Dial

The design of the dial takes a restrained approach. Symmetry is strong with the logotype at 12 and calendar window at 6 below the text proclaiming the automatic movement and 150m depth rating. The printing of this text, the logotype and the minute markers over the gloss black dial is perfect using either the naked eye or the loupe. There is absolutely no smudging or misalignment. If I had to complain about one thing, and I had to look quite hard to find anything, it is the date is not quite centered vertically in the date window, but I am really having to dig deep to find faults with this watch, especially given the price point.

The arrow hand and baton minute hand are lume-filled, brushed on top with polished bevels. This combination of finishes make the time easy to read at all times of the day or night and in any lighting conditions, even against the gloss black dial. The treatment of the applied markers echoes the high visibility of the hands being brushed, polished and lume-filled. We have seen the hands and markers before of course on the Trident line of dive watches but against the gloss black of the C63’s dial, both pop a little more. The Automatic also comes with an optional white dial and while I did not try that version, I am sure that variant will find plenty of fans as well. 

The star of the show for me however, even more than the deep black of the dial, is that little red tip on the otherwise almost impossibly thin second hand. The red flash just finishes the dial perfectly, giving the otherwise conservative styling a sporting vibe that neatly matches the colour of the water resistance text.

The Movement

The Swiss Sellita SW200-1 is both expected, being a Christopher Ward stalwart, but also a little surprising given the price point. At $695 this is quite a low price point for a movement which is found in watches costing considerably more. I have a number of watches containing this same ‘base’ movement and all provide reliable and accurate time keeping with an appealing 28,800 vph sweep. While this movement has a reputation for being a basic Swiss workhorse movement, every one I have ever measured has performed within 5 seconds per day and I would always take the SW200-1 over the equivalent mid-range 6R35 Seiko movement. These days the Sellitas are just consistently better performers than the Seiko in my experience.

Where the movement does show its humble origins however is in the 38 hour power reserve which in this day and age is the bare minimum for an automatic movement. In some way this is the price you pay for that 28,800 beat rate. After all, the ETA C07.111, which shares its architecture with the SW200-1/ETA 2824, achieves its 80 hour power reserve only by dropping the beat rate to a less visually pleasing 21,600 vph. As with all SW200-1 movements, the view through the caseback is nothing to write home about. It’s cleanly finished of course, but due to the movement’s architecture, a series of stacked bridges is basically all you see. The only sign of the mechanism itself is the half-hidden balance rotating back and forth 8 times a second.

In Conclusion

The C63 Automatic contains everything that Christopher Ward does well and nothing that it does not… at a market-beating price for an automatic Swiss watch. The ‘light-catcher’ case is here to enjoy from the Trident range, as are the high visibility hands to appreciate, against that well-finished, high quality dial. The finishing while not perfect is good for the price point – so much so, that for me the new C63 range is this ‘budget’ Automatic model is the star of Sealander range simply because it gives so much for so little. At £595/$695 on canvas, rubber or leather bands and £700/$815 on the stainless steel bracelet, the C63 Automatic represents excellent value for money. For someone who has not yet considered a Christopher Ward watch before, please meet your gateway drug to the UK/Swiss manufacturer… the new C63 Automatic. 

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