About the Author: Kris P. is a Philadelphia architect, development manager, and professor who is an enthusiast of old stuff, his wife and two daughters, and driving sports cars.
Consider the color of a beautiful sky, a captivating eye, or the Mediterranean horizon. When I saw the Christopher Ward C65 Trident in blue for the first time, I saw all of those beautiful notes, and I knew I had to have it. When it went on sale two months ago (a rare occurrence for Christopher Ward watches) I didn’t hesitate, and I have been wearing it nearly every day since.
Dappered readers are likely familiar with Christopher Ward’s offerings. The 15-year old brand offers a combo of English design and Swiss manufacturing to deliver watches that punch well above their weight in terms of quality and finish. While many would challenge a watch described as “under $1000” as affordable, it’s hard to go wrong with the value of a Christopher Ward, especially when a sale drops as much as $250 off of list prices, as was the case with my “nearly new” (still had stickers on all faces) model, which shipped for $637 with a stainless steel bracelet.
The C65 Dial. Mid 60s style influence. Modern features.
The stated design goal for the C65 Trident Diver is to emulate the style of a mid-sixties diver, but with modern features. A number of options are on offer within the C65 line, including a GMT, automatic, some more “adventurous” finish options, and the stunning new navy Dartmouth Series 1. It’s vintage inspiration stops before it hits the crowded territory of homages, which is nice. It’s never fun to be reminded that your nice watch is a less-nice version of someone much richer’s watch. While it does come functionally short of the typical feature-laden diver, it’s good looks and proportions allow it to shine in both a dress and a sport setting. The sum of the package is one of the finest looking and best-made dive-style watches out there.
These two things are true: It’s not cheap. It’s also a bargain.
Let’s not beat around the bush – as mentioned, the reason I own this watch is the striking matte blue face. Not navy blue, not royal blue, but the color of the sky on a clear autumn day. The finish gives great tonal variation depending on how light hits it, and it stands out as a unique color for a watch face. The dial itself features a bold, Arabic 12 and 6 in stylized font with simple line indices at the other hours, painted in Old Radium lume, whose off-white tone enhances the vintage feel and compliments the face’s hue. (The lume itself is so-so.) The stick-style, lumed hands are simple, save for the delicate Trident counterweight on the seconds hand, one of the most eye-catching design elements on the watch. The Christopher Ward written logo is in white at at 9 o’clock, and the clever St. George’s/Swiss Cross brand logo is debossed at 12 o’clock.
True, clear-autumn-sky blue.
It seems like you can’t talk about Christopher Ward without mentioning the logo. The written logo (the brand’s third in 15 years) at 9 o’clock does not get a ton of love, with some saying it betrays its retro aesthetic. I’d counter-argue the Helvetica font of the Ward logo would have been au courant in the hypothetical mid-sixties design environment of this watch. If not anything else, I like its oblique reference to the watch’s Swiss heart. All of this being said, the recently released Dartmouth Series 1 features the centered, written logo at 12 o’clock, and presents a much better balance of elements in the same case.
Box sapphire crystal. Yet it wears surprisingly thin on the wrist.
The box sapphire crystal stands tall, creating a pleasing distortion at its edges, and the purple-blue flare enhances the blue below. The crystal is surrounded by a thin, 120-click unidirectional bezel that is one of the strongest and most pleasing design callbacks to the pseudo-sixties style. Viewed from the side, it presents a pleasing, well-proportioned flying-saucer-esque composition. The watch wears very thin – at 11.55 mm, it easily fits under a shirt cuff. The overall effect allows the watch to wear smaller than its 41mm diameter would indicate; it is a comfortable fit on my very skinny 6.25” wrist.
At 11.55 mm thick, it easily fits under a shirt cuff.
The case finishing is where the Trident really, pardon the pun, shines. The edges between polished and brushed stainless steel are sharp, and when viewed in profile, are very nicely proportioned and layered, accenting the watch’s thinness. The solid screw-down caseback features a high definition Trident logo, a variety of finishes, and a unique serial number. While the watch is ostensibly rated for 150M, the crown is not screw-down and does not have guards, reinforcing the emphasis on style in this dive-style watch.
The C65 features a manually-wound Sellita SW210 movement without complications. I chose the manual simply because its face design looks better than the automatic version; unexpectedly, I have come to love the fact that winding the watch every morning reminds me of my dad performing the same ritual when I was a kid. Two months on my wrist and a quick test at my watch repair shop have confirmed that the watch is running an excellent +/- 3 seconds per day.
Comfortable. 41mm diameter should look just fine on most wrists.
The Christopher Ward “Vintage Oak” aged leather strap is a perfect, straight-across-the-color-wheel complement to the blue dial, and makes the watch sing in marketing photos. BUT, when a factory stainless steel bracelet is on offer for just a $70 premium, you get the stainless steel bracelet. I actually ended up getting both, with mixed results.
The leather strap has a nice thickness and texture, and gives the watch a bit more of a casual feel. In practice though, the hue that contrasts so nicely with the face doesn’t really contrast against my complexion. I think that those of you with lighter or darker complexions may find better results.
Shown here with an additional, $65 leather strap.
The stainless steel oyster-style bracelet, though, is a home run, especially for $70 (it runs $175 as a separate add on if you go with a different strap style with watch purchase). It has solid end links, a nice weight, and the links conform well to my thin wrist. The clasp has a particularly nice micro-adjustment feature that allows you to smoothly make adjustments while still wearing the watch. It’s a feature that you’d expect to find on a watch twice the cost, especially when considering how thin it is. On that previously mentioned trip to my watch repair shop, the gentleman who services my watches said “I can tell a surprising amount about a watch just by the band, and I can tell that this is an excellent watch.”
Stays true to 60s & 70s watch heritage with a Sellita MANUAL wind movement.
All Christopher Ward watches come with their 60/60 Guarantee; you can return the watch within 60 days, and the movement has a 60 month warranty. That’s a nice perk, though I don’t imagine warranting Sellita movements causes much lost sleep in the Christopher Ward risk management department. Additionally, the unboxing experience was, well, special. The complicated multi-tiered box and the personalized letter were impressive enough to mention, but not so over-the-top that I wish they used the money to make the watch better.
In summary, the C65 Trident is a very strong offering, and after spending two months on my wrist, I’m very happy with this watch. As someone who likes to wear a sporty watch without sacrificing suit-appropriateness, it’s a perfect hybrid. As an architect and lover of quality design, the vintage aesthetic, finish, proportion, and tactile feel of the manual movement check all of my boxes. Occasionally, I have wondered if my wardrobe is over-blue – sometimes the face can get lost behind a blue cuff. But the reality is that when this happens, the best move is to change my shirt, because this watch deserves to be worn every day.