Hands-On: Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire

The Skinny

– Diameter: 40mm

– Thickness: 14mm

– Movement: Sellita SW200

– Water Resistance: 600m

– Price: $910

The C60 has been a core watch in the British manufacturers range since it was introduced in 2015 as the Trident Pro. Since then it has established itself as value-oriented, well-specified, Swiss-made diver. The C60 Sapphire is its latest and most expensive incarnation and introduces some novel design changes for this well-established model.

Initial Impressions

The initial impression is that this is a really good looking watch. The finishing also impresses. The bezel is nicely machined and being all steel gives off a different vibe from a painted or ceramic insert. The metal bezel also makes the watch appear more compact and well balanced as a result. At 40mm the watch hits a real sweetspot in size looking totally well proportioned on my 19.5cm / 7.5″ wrist. It seems a touch tall at 14mm, especially given the smaller diameter, however, the watch wears the height well with a steeply sloped bezel. The overall feel is of a strong, robust dive watch, a little squat and a little tough. Think of it as dressed up and more refined Marathon JDD.

The Sapphire Dial

A unique 0.6mm thick sapphire dial gives this watch its name. I was particularly keen to review this watch because it immediately made me think of the old Seiko 7015 Time Sonar flyback chronograph from the early 70s that also used a translucent dial. Where Seiko used grey or orange polycarbonate dials, Chr. Ward now uses a sandwich of blue polycarbonate and sapphire glass for the dial. According to Adrian Buchmann, CW’s head of product design, the sapphire glass dials are particularly difficult to make and have a high rejection rate. When the light is just right, the dial side of the movement can be clearly seen – something I have not seen since the Time Sonar was made.

While the Seiko dial was entirely printed, the C60 has a mix of print and the usual C60 applied markers which adds a little luxury. Without them, I think the Sapphire’s dial would definitely have felt a little utilitarian, something I think affected the old Time Sonar. The usual two logos are present on the dial with Christopher Ward spelled out at 9 o’clock and the twin flag logo at 12. The 9 o’clock logotype is printed while the flag logo is etched and is far more subtle for it.

The handset is standard Christopher Ward fare, with a long sword hand for the hours, a long baton for the minutes and the lollipop seconds hand with the trident counterweight. For me personally, there is a little too much branding what with the two logos and the trident but I’m perhaps a little conservative with my preferences. The orange tip to the second hand lifts the ensemble. While I may not be a fan of the trident hand, I am a fan of the translucent sapphire dial, but perhaps not in a conventional sense. Let me explain…

I think the real reason we do not see a lot of translucent dials at this price point is because there is nothing particularly attractive or interesting to see on the dial-side of these workhorse movements. On a watch with a calendrical function, as both the vintage Seiko Time Sonar and the Ward C60 have, the dial side of the movement is dominated by the date disk or the day wheel, or both and the mechanism to drive them, normally some sort of star wheel. In the world of budget movements, which I would class the Sellita SW200 as, there’s not a whole lot to see on the dial side. There’s a reason exhibition case backs are on the back. The irony of the C60 Sapphire is of course that the exhibition case back is tinted blue to match the dial which makes it difficult to see the other side of the movement.

So while we cannot see much, and what we can see is not going to win any awards, I do love the transluscent dial. The reason is because the transluscency gives the dial real perceptible depth. This illusion of depth is enhanced by the black date wheel, completely visible through the transluscent dial, giving the dial an almost fumé edge. The blue tint is just enough achieve this texture and depth but dark enough to not draw too much attention to the unfinished components sitting below.

The overall feel is of strong, robust dive watch, a little squat and a little tough.

The Case

The case in marine-grade 316L stainless steel is extremely well finished. Alternate brushed and polished areas create highlights that are constantly dancing as the watch moves. The 120-click unidirectional bezel is circumferentially brushed and has a positive feel in keeping with the price of the watch. The minute numerals are painted and the only lume is on the pip at 12, despite photos on the Christopher Ward site indicating otherwise. The steel bezel gives the C60 Sapphire a dressier edge than it would have with a painted or ceramic bezel. It is still a ‘tooly’ tool watch, it is just dressed a little smarter than average.

The C60 Sapphire has what Chr. Ward describe as their ‘light-catcher’ case. The upper surface is brushed giving way to a high polished bevel that extends over the lug guards. The polished bezel transitions to a brushed side profile that transitions at the bottom to another polished bevel. The alternative brushing and polishing is effective and well executed. The resulting case certainly catches the light just as the manufacturer claims but also helps disguise the height of the watch.

The crown is large but not out of proportion with the rest of the case. However, the size does mean that the crown guards are really more stylistic than practical. The machined edge of the crown is easily turned and the screwdown action is reliable and straightforward. The end of the crown is signed with Chr. Ward’s double Swiss flag logo.

It is still a tooly tool watch, it is just dressed a little smarter than average.

The Movement

As with other C60 models, the watch is powered by a Sellita SW200-1 movement. The 28800 vph 26-jewel movement gives a refined sweep to the trident second hand. The 38-hour power reserve is not huge but one would not expect much more at this level. While the exhibition case-back is rendered less-effective by the blue tint, one can still make out the flag logo etching on the winding rotor.

The Sellita SW200 movement is a clone of the long established ETA 2824 movement and more readily available to non-Swatch Group watch companies, so it is popular and understandable choice at this level. You will find the same movement inside the Oris Diver Sixty Five and Eterna Kon Tiki diver models for example. As such, the Chr. Ward definitely offers particularly good value offering the same movement but being significantly cheaper than both those watches.

Summary

Spending time with the C60 Sapphire did not change my initial impression that this it was an attractive and well-built watch. More time with the watch did however cement my impression that this watch provides great value. The case finishing, the Sellita movement, the story and execution behind the sapphire dial all add up to a sound value proposition. For someone on a budget, looking for their first Swiss tool watch that can also hold its own in more formal environments, the C60 Sapphire is strongly recommended. The lucky buyer will soon realise he or she is getting an awful lot of watch for their money.

We reviewed this watch on the all-blue hybrid rubber/canvas band. The band itself is somewhat uninspiring but it did deliver as a hard-wearing and waterproof alternative to plain rubber. Choosing the hybrid strap saves $120 over the steel bracelet version but also dresses it down. For me this watch would always be a swimming or activity watch so my choice would be the hybrid band with the orange highlights for a little extra pop on an already handsome watch. However, if the watch needed to fulfill some dressier roles, then the bracelet would be the way to go.