What would you pay for a Swiss-made watch with all the elements of a professional diver’s watch complete with helium release valve and that keeps it safe to depths of 1000 metres?
What would a brushed titanium case and bracelet add to the price, or a chronometer-certified movement that can be seen through a 3.4mm thick sapphire case back?
If you have a spare $11,700, the answer is likely to be a Rolex Sea-Dweller (although you will have to settle for construction from Oystersteel). The Rolex badge, timeless style and the Calibre 3235 manufacture movement might make this a no-brainer.
Omega’s Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Master Chronometer would be another good shout, for $6,250.
For those that prefer to pull on a wetsuit and swim against the tide, Christopher Ward’s C60 Elite 1000, priced at just $1,425 on a rubber strap and $1,680 on a titanium bracelet, is the correct answer.
I’ve been wearing the bracelet version for the past fortnight and it is going to be a wrench to take if off.
The watch is lightweight, at just 133 grams including the bracelet, and less bulky than other deep sea diver’s models, measuring 42mm across and 15.4mm high. It is also elegant and highly legible in daylight and nighttime when its high grade Super-LumiNova-coated hands, hour markers and 60 second bezel numbers glow green.
Mine has a blue dial and matching ceramic uni-directional bezel, but there is a black-dialed version launching in June.
Hands and markers are white, and there is a splash of orange — a signature Christopher Ward colour — on the tip of the seconds hand and the 15-minute countdown on the bezel.
Despite having all the functionality and strength of a dive watch, Christopher Ward has pitched it firmly at people that will rarely leave land. Professional dive watches often avoid complications such as day and date because they make them harder to read at a glance, but the C60 Elite 1000 has them at 3 o’clock on the dial without making the watch any less legible.
One compromise you have to accept with Christopher Ward watches is the use of third party movements, in this case the automatic Sellita SW220 calibre with 38-hour power reserve and in-built shock-resistance.
It may not be a manufacture movement, but it is Swiss made and certified by the Swiss organisation Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres with a tolerance of -4/+6 seconds per day.
Christopher Ward watches can only be bought directly from its ecommerce site.
Not needing to make a margin for wholesalers or retailers is part of the reason the brand is so competitive on price, but customers do lose out of the enjoyment of spending time in a beautiful jeweller and being talked through the options with an expert.
In return, they get the convenience of shopping from their sofas followed by doorstep delivery.
This makes the quality of packaging and the immediate experience of unboxing the watch all the more important, and Christopher Ward has raised its game in this regard last year when it launched a stylish new wooden box with an embossed black sleeve.
Christopher Ward’s target market has been described by managing director Mike France as “curious gentlemen”, by which I think he means men that do not follow the herd and like the idea of bagging a great watch at an incredible price.
People like this love to feel they’ve discovered hidden gems, and the C60 Elite 1000 at £1,470 is certainly that.