I was first attracted to the orange-handed version of this watch purely because of the aesthetics and something tweaked in my mind when I saw it. I suspect it was the below vintage Rolex.
Like so many watches it is hard to be completely unique and without the orange hand, the strangely big orange hand, the Rolex Explorer II would never have entered my mind.
I could buy a vintage Explorer II if I had +£18,000 to spare, but I do not and so I am concentrating on sub £1,000 watches as they offer, in my opinion, far more real world value and practicality.
As you may have read recently in my Tissot Powermatic 80 review a lot can be got for what is considered not much money in the watch world. That watch blew my mind and changed how I view lower-priced watches, and so naturally the next stop is Christopher Ward.
Over time the brand has been growing a reputation for excellent customer service, reasonable pricing and specifications and quality that are way ahead of what many competitors offer. I was going to write ‘what competitors can do’, but that would not be correct because many choose to pad out their pricing in the hope that consumers will not notice. I would add a list of examples at this point, but put simply it is the vast majority with very few exceptions.
Anyway, here are the main specifications you get for your £955 (£1,055 before a widely available promo code)-
On these specs alone the value proposition stood out for me when I compared it to my Oris Divers 65. The movement is the most prominent upgrade in a watch that costs £600 less than my SW200 powered Oris. The GMT function is the other main difference between the two specs wise aside from the dimensions etc. and so I remain scratching my head asking why one is so much more expensive than the other. The Oris is +£1,600 retail.
Now before I start the actual review I thought it best to get the logo placement out of the way early on. My 17 year old daughter has no interest in watches at all and so I showed her a large picture of the Pepsi version of this watch and asked her what she thought of it. She immediately said-
“Why are the words over there?”
She was ambivalent about the watch itself because they all look the same to her, but the logo placement jumped out immediately.
I did this because it is easy for someone like me, who looks at watches often, to notice it more than others, but the fact is that we have many decades of centre-top logos on watches in our subconscious and anything else is hard to adjust to.
It is more than that, however, because I noticed that when the hands are in the bottom half of the dial the empty space feels immense and it gives a ‘homage watch with no logo at all’ feel- that’s not the best look.
I then pondered if the lettering, and the length of the brand name, was too large to sit at the top, but as you can see below (in my badly edited image) it actually does look better in the traditional location.
Sadly the insertion of the clever English Flag / Swiss Flag logo at the top does not offer much because it is invisible in most lighting conditions, but I guess this is a good thing because 2 logos on a dial could get too busy.
I am not sure why the logo is to the left, I am not sure why ‘CW’ is not used instead and I cannot understand what the designers were thinking when they decided to put the large font logo on the left with an invisible flag logo at the top. There is nothing wrong with trying something different because the watch world desperately needs that, but I can’t work out how this design choice came to be.
The thing is I am not saying that I dislike it, I am just having trouble adjusting which is evidenced by the number of paragraphs I have spent on it already. The lockdown thing is having more of an effect on my ability to spend hours thinking about silly things than I thought.
And then it gets weird- the black version looks great with the logo on the left, but not the Pepsi version, in my humble opinion, and I guess this may be down to the visual temperature. The warmness of the lume on the black version and the organge hand compare starkly against the colder Pepsi look. It is just a personal preference on my part so don’t let me sway you.
I have traversed over to the Pepsi version when I am in actual fact reviewing the Black version here, and that makes for a huge difference. I cannot get my head around why one looks perfectly fine and the other feels unbalanced to me. They are the same watch in every single way apart from the colours, but it goes to show just how difficult watch design is; the form, the materials used, the consistency of shading, the sizing in every area and so it goes on. In my limited view it is easy, but it really isn’t and I have to say that CW has nailed the black version for my particular tastes.
What surprised me most about this watch was how it felt on the wrist when I first wore it. For a 41mm watch it feels decidedly small to me and the 47mm lug to lug only adds to this. In comparison to the Tissot Powermatic I struggle to understand the quoted dimensions for either watch. The Tissot feels substantial, solid and heavy whereas the Trident feels light and ultra slim. I say this because the Trident is heavier, higher and wider, and only the lug to lug length is bigger by a mere 0.9mm. It highlights how important design is in a watch and yet I still can’t get my mind around these two when put side by side. The end result is that the Trident actually wears better and is more practical as an everyday wear.
In many ways this is the perfect case design and reminiscent of the Oris Divers 65. What I can say is that the case really is stunning; intricate, beautifully polished and brushed, and so minimal that the watch wraps around the wrist like few others I have worn.
The dial is big because the bezel is thin and so you get a lot of space to view the time and date in. This adds to the openness of the dial because of the logo position, and the (too) small date window. I appreciate that the date window is colour matched with a black background and white text, but why is it so small? This is a GMT watch which makes the date more important and so it should at least be visible in all conditions. I go back to repeating myself regarding date functionality- if you are going to include a date window, don’t be shy and worry that it will disturb the dial, and especially so on a dial with this much space.
The sense of space continues with the cricket bat hands which are pleasingly lumed using a creamy vintage application. With a super thin seconds hand and a relatively thin unidirectional bezel as well the sense of genuine vintage is obvious throughout. As it happens the big GMT hand helps to add personality to the otherwise fairly sparse dial and of course it is extremely useful as well.
I get what Christopher Ward is trying to do here and the brand has succeeded with ease. On wrist it is a joy, even though this is not going to be my watch, and it feels like the Oris I always wanted. Oris watches can tend to be very conservative in terms of their design, especially the Diver’s 65 range, and CW is offering a much cheaper, better specified and more interesting timepiece which is miles ahead in terms of wearability.
The bracelet is also excellent with a considered taper and an on the fly adjustable clasp which is a much bigger convenience than you may imagine. Don’t underestimate how useful it is to be able to make a quick adjustment when the summer arrives and your wrist swells during the day. Also, the quick release mechanism is superb and unlike anything I have seen before- a touch of consideration that is rare elsewhere.
Throw in a 5 year warranty and I am struggling to adjust to what this watch represents.
I recently wrote the following about the Tissot Powermatic-
“It leaves me pondering if the Powermatic 80 is the best watch I have worn under £1,000 and I genuinely believe that it is. For the price it is exceptional, for double the price it would be impressive, but no matter what the cost this is a solid and beautifully understated watch that could easily be my 85% daily wear.”
The Christopher Ward C65 Trident GMT is potentially better than the Tissot and that is a good thing because it is teaching me that if I look outside of the tried and tested brands there is a lot of good out there, and that good is actually better than much of the competition.
This will be my son’s watch and the question remains as to if we need two CWs in the house. I must admit that this is preferable to the excellent Powermatic to me and so I will ponder my next steps. As an introduction to Christopher Ward it is perplexing that so much can be offered at this price point, and more importantly that no area has been missed in terms of the design process that has obviously gone into its creation.
More information here.
Note: we had a blip with the wrong watch being sent initially, but the response from CW proved that there is depth to the customer service as well as the product itself.
Final, final note. Above is the box the watch came in and it’s some of the most considered packaging I have seen. Seriously, Christopher Ward should also make wireless speakers. This design would beat most I have seen.