15 Aug Hands On Review: Christopher Ward C65 Trident Vintage
A couple of years ago, back in the summer of 2016, Christopher Ward underwent the third rebranding in their history. It was based around a cleaner, more modern look, with a focus on their mutual English and Swiss heritage. It was a somewhat controversial marketing decision, with many fans and collectors criticising the new logo for being too bland. One of the watches they released to coincide with the rebrand was the C65 Trident Vintage. I was immediately smitten with its modest 38mm size, all brushed finish and vintage lume, which gave the watch a Rolex Explorer vibe without copying the classic piece. However, initially I was apprehensive about the minimal, somewhat empty face, and basic, oddly positioned logo. Nonetheless, when I saw a C65 pop up in Christopher Ward’s “Nearly New” sales section I couldn’t resist, and I bit the bullet and bought it at a healthy 30% discount.
The case is very similar to that of the C60 trident, but is fully brushed, except for polished chamfered edges that cannot be found on the regular version. This mostly brushed finish gives off a more toolish, functional vibe than you get with the regular Trident, especially when combined with the brushed steel bracelet. Personally, it’s a styling choice that really appeals to me, as I wanted a watch to fill that sporty/dress mid ground that watches like the Omega Aqua Terra, Rolex Explorer, and Tudor Black Bay 36 sit in so well. As anybody who has seen a Christopher Ward timepiece up close will know, the quality of these is superb. The finish of the case is perfect, with the brushed surfaces having an almost pearlescent satin quality.
At 38mm the watch is on the smaller end of the scale, but as it’s meant to emulate a vintage watch this is the right choice if you ask me. I find it wears a bit bigger thanks to the thinner fixed bezel, and at just 11.6mm thick it’s thin enough to slip under a cuff. The watch also has a healthy 150m water resistance, which whilst nothing to boast about, is more than enough for swimming or any day-to-day exposure to water.
For those of you wondering, the crown is easy to grip, smooth to wind, and stamped nice and crisply on its head with Christopher Ward’s twin flags motif. It also screws down, so there’s no need to worry about any water seeping in.
Like all other Tridents, the case back is stamped with the signature trident symbol, and as usual it’s a very deep & crisp mark. For me the case back is one of the areas that shows off just how good Christopher Ward really are. Where other brands would have simple placeholder design, Christopher Ward go the whole nine yards and choose something really substantial and striking.
By their own admission Christopher Ward designed the C65 Trident to be a sort of nouveau-vintage tool watch – the sort of thing that you’d find on the wrist of a cop in a Seventies TV show whilst he chases bad guys in a custom sports car. Their choice of crystal is, for me, the biggest nod to this classic aesthetic. It’s a double-domed sapphire crystal that brilliantly emulates the acrylic crystals of old. Not only is sapphire extremely scratch resistant (and the only real choice at this price-point), Christopher Ward also gave it an anti-reflective coating that keeps the glare to a minimum. It’s another nice touch that is very much appreciated by a keen Instagrammer like myself (reflections are a b*tch people). Perhaps the coolest feature of the domed crystal is the ring of distortion it provides around the dial, which gives the Spartan face some much needed depth.
Looking at the dial, I’d say that this is where the C65 will fall down for a lot of people. It’s a very minimal, almost sterile, look that is in keeping with Christopher Ward’s more modern and dare I say “hipster” design language since their rebrand. The matte black dial has few elements on, but this is obviously done to give a sharp, clean, and toolish look. (You’ll notice there are no polished surfaces to add any hint of formality). This also means that each element has to be perfectly executed, or it will stand out a mile to even the most casual eye. And in my humble opinion, I think Christopher Ward were spot on with the design execution. The dial itself has a matte, slightly textured finish, and the dial text (all five words of it) is printed crisply in white. The dial is well balanced, with the hour marker at 9 shortened to make room for the logo/wordmark, and mirroring the 3 o’clock marker that is shortened by the date window. The date window itself is bevelled and the date ring is black to match the dial, and it is these little details that hint at the thought the design team put into this piece.
I’m actually going to say a bit about the logo separately because, even two years on, it’s still a controversial topic amongst the watch community. All I’ll say for now is that on this watch, which was designed with the new logo in mind, I think it works. I’m not going to lie though, because I’d prefer to have their twin flags motif up at 12 as well, just to fill the space. However all-in-all, I think it just adds a modern twist on a vintage inspired watch.
When you look at the hour markers you’ll notice that they’re actually applied, with “Old Radium” SuperLuminova covering their tops. I think I’d have preferred to see the lume set into hollow batons, like on the regular C60 Trident, just to give some extra detail. That said, it’s in keeping with the watch’s aesthetic, and doesn’t look out of place.
For the hands Christopher Ward opted for simple brushed steel batons filled with more “Old Radium” lume. These are more toolish than the onion hands found on the regular Trident line, but it’s a choice that will please those who aren’t a fan of the other style. The seconds hand however does retain the cool trident counter-balance that is prevalent on the rest of the Trident models.
When in the dark the lume is adequate, but not great by any means. It’s the only area I think Christopher Ward could stand to improve on, and I think the reason the C65 isn’t for the lume junkies among you is two-fold. Firstly, there simply isn’t enough lume applied to the watch. Secondly, the lume itself isn’t particularly bright to begin with when compared to SuperLuminova C3 or BGW9.
The 20mm steel bracelet is identical to those found on the other 38mm Tridents but is fully brushed. It’s of exceptional quality too, with solid end-links that sit nice and tight with the case, and the whole thing feels very well put together. The clasp is just a solid as the rest of the bracelet, and has a neat hidden micro-adjustment for tightening or loosening the bracelet on the fly.
The movement is an automatic Sellita SW200-1, which is a copy of the trusty & ubiquitous ETA 2824-2. As many of you will know, Sellita used to produce 2824’s for ETA under licence, so there’s no need to worry about quality here. Like the ETA, the movement has 38 hours power reserve and beats at 28,800 vph. Mine keeps time to approximately +-3 seconds per day, which is very decent accuracy, and the date changes at 23:57, which is also pretty good. Overall, it’s the standard movement choice for this price point and I’m perfectly happy with it.
Looking at everything this watch has to offer, it makes a damn fine value proposition for a durable everyday piece. Sure the dial may be slightly too sterile, and like everyone else I’d prefer to have a logo at 12, but it’s something that honestly doesn’t look bad in the metal. The positives of the watch far outweigh that one negative when you take everything into account. For the modest price of £660 you get a watch with an original design and some nice vintage touches, Swiss movement, gorgeous domed sapphire crystal and a very decent bracelet. With an impressive set of specs, and Christopher Ward’s 5 year warranty, it’s a great choice to fill that gap in the collection for an Explorer style watch.
It’s also a niche which I don’t think has that many alternatives in for affordable pieces either. The Halios Seaforth is a very close match, but has no bracelet option and is in very limited numbers. Monta have the Triumph, but it’s twice the price, though the movement is better. And lastly Nodus have the Contrail 39 out in October 2018, but it’s not quite as refined as the C65 is if you ask me. At the end of the day, I think Christopher Ward produced a very smart watch that I find myself regularly reaching for when I choose what to wear in the morning.