Christopher Ward C10 Aviator Mk I Review

Review | Under $1k | 12.12.2012

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We’ve been fortunate to have a couple Christopher Ward pieces come in for review here at worn&wound. With both the C8 Pilot and C5 Malvern dress watch, Christopher Ward has displayed clearly that they are capable of bringing their customers well designed, high quality watches at very reasonable prices.  For the past several weeks we’ve been putting the C10 Aviator through its paces, Christopher Ward’s modern take on the classic pilot watch. So, at $515, does the C10 live up to Christopher Ward’s reputation?

Case: Stainless steel w/ matte finish
Movement: 26 Jewel Sellita SW200-1 automatic
Lume: Superluminova
Lens: Anti-reflective sapphire
Strap: Italian calf leather
Water Res.: 50M
Dimensions: 42mm
Thickness: 10mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Crown: Screw down
Warranty: CW360 Care Program
Price: $515

Christopher Ward designed the C10 in the image of the classic B-Uhren pilot watches, but with wearability and versatility in mind.  As they note on the product page, a “triangular reference point at 12 O’clock and the large, diamond shaped crown are dead give-aways” of the C10’s heritage, but the watch’s more modest size “hits the sweet spot for most wearers.” This is certainly the case, however we found there to be a number of other design cues throughout the piece that also lend to a broader commercial appeal.  Some refined detailing on the dial and soft case design suggest that the C10 is intended to be the pilot watch for those who aren’t interested in the completely rugged, no-frills aesthetic of many classically styled pieces.

Case
The case of the C10 is quite nice, albeit very simple, even toned down.  Made of stainless steel and featuring a matte finish, the C10 case measures 42mm in diameter, 50mm lug to lug and 10mm tall.  Certainly modest for todays standards, and even on the small side for a pilot watch.  The matte finish is smooth, and contrasts nicely with the C10’s slightly more ornate dial, which we’ll discuss shortly.

On the back of the case, you’ll find an etching of the Sopwith Camel bi-plane, a British plane first introduced in WWI. Also etched are the Latin words “mea anima est in caelum” or “my soul is in the sky.”  Some nice detailing for sure, but a part of me wished Christopher Ward had included a display case back with this watch.  Given its more dress styling, I think a bit of flash on the back of the case would have gone well.  And who doesn’t like to show off their watch’s Swiss pedigree whenever they get the chance? As noted, the C10 is powered by a Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement.  A unique serial number is also etched on each of the C10’s, which is a nice touch, but if a watch isn’t being made in limited quantities, this seems to be a moot point. UPDATE: As pointed out by reader Pete, these unique serial numbers will prove valuable many years down the road when dating the watches, providing a reference point to match with manufacturer records.

Lastly, the C10 also features a large onion crown and the 3 o’clock position, which is common to many B-Uhren watches.  Its proportions are quite nice and it fits aesthetically with the rest of the C10, but we did find it a bit uncomfortable at times as it protrudes from the C10 case a bit more than you may like it to.

Dial
Moving to the dial of the C10, it very effectively harkens back to the B-Uhren watches of years ago, with a large triangular 12 o’clock indicator, oversized 3, 6 and 9 numerical markers, and large sword style hands.  The inclusion of a internal minute register also reminds us of observer style pilots watches, which typically feature the hour index along the inner circle, and the minute/second index along the very outer edge of the dial. It doesn’t’ seem to have been the intention of Christopher Ward to rethink the observer watch, and the internal register included on the C10 is well implemented.  It’s nevertheless worth noting that this watch does, to us, seem to pull design cues from across the pilot watch spectrum.

For a pilot watch, the C10 features a significant amount of detailing. It also includes off-white markings throughout which, partnered with the slightly more ornate detailing, provides a distinctly vintage, classic aesthetic.

Starting along its outer edge, you will see hash markers for each second/minute, as well as smaller markings for each 5th of a second.  Moving inward, we see the hour markers, which are filled with lume and are actually applied to the dial. They are further outlined in polished steel, making them visible in both high and low light.

The internal minute/second register is a railroad shape, with numerical markings every five seconds/minutes along its internal side. The 60 marker is colored red for distinction, however there are no lumed markings. At 3 o’clock, and intersecting with the internal second/minute register, there is a date window displaying an off-white numeral on black background, matching the rest of the dal. Polished stainless steel around the date window helps it to stand out from the rest of the dial.

Looking now at the hands of the C10, you’ll note that the hour and minute hands are sword shapes, typical to the pilot watch.  These hands also match the styling of the hour markers and date wheel on the dial, with lume filling and stainless steel trim.  Meanwhile, the second hand is needle shaped with a lume filled dot that matches up with the internal second/minute register on the dial.

Strap/Wearability
As has been the case with the other Christopher Wards we’ve reviewed, the C10 is accompanied by a very nice strap with quick release function for easy strap changes.  The strap included is made of black italian calf leather and features off-white contrast stitching throughout.  It also includes a signed deployment clasp that feels very nice when adjusting.

Given its size and more refined finishing, we found the C10 to be a great watch for regular wear in the office or on the weekend.  Its classic military styling provides some ruggedness, while dial design, polished steel accents and leather strap with deployment clasp give it more formal overtones.  Further, the modest size of the case and relatively low profile (10mm tall) make it fit well with most cuffs.

Conclusion
At this point, it almost goes without saying that Christopher Ward watches are well made and feel great in your hand.  Swiss made, these pieces really do meet your every expectation for build quality and thoughtful design. Speaking specifically of the C10 Aviator, we found it to be a more refined pilot watch, appropriate for regular wear. In modifying the classic pilot look, the C10 also stands out from the crowd without being ostentatious. So, at just $515, the C10 looks like a winner for anyone in the market for a versatile, attractive pilot watch.

by Blake Malin

Thanks to Christopher Ward for providing the C10

  • http://URL Pete

    “A unique serial number is also etched on each of the C10’s, which is a nice touch, but if a watch isn’t being made in limited quantities, this seems to be a moot point.”

    Unless, of course, CW are taking the long view and thinking that people might want to be able to date these watches some 30 or 40 or more years down the line. Serial numbers will definitely come in handy to match against manufacturing records.

    • w&w

      Thanks Pete! Can’t believe I missed that when writing the review. I’ve updated the post.

  • http://URL John

    Hey Zach just wondering if you guys are going to review the Christopher Ward C60 Trident?

  • http://URL Ben

    Love the site, but Wow. Couldn’t imagine a more uninspired design. There is nothing interesting or special about this watch. And at over $500 its borderering on comical. Generic generic generic. Spend a third of the price on a Seiko 5 series and just be done with it. Just my 2 cents.

    • http://URL MM

      Uninspired? It is much more inspired than most pilot watches I’ve seen.

      Seiko 5′s might be less money, but they are ugly compared to this with their numerous unnecessary dial markings. Not to mention the particular Seiko 5 that has a similar dial to this is 37 mm in diameter, which might be okay for a child, but not an adult male IMO.

    • http://URL Ben

      Well, clearly the Seiko 5 series comment was meant to be tounge in cheek. And sure, beauty is in the eye as they say. I think what I was getting at is there are better options out there. Steinhart for one. Laco for another. Both well built, more attractive and cheaper. This just looks like something I’d find at a Target jewelery counter. Again, just my opinion.

  • http://URL Rodney

    This was a very good review. I am new to Worn and Wound and I am enjoying your reviews.

  • http://URL Amer

    For some reason, I’m not digging the smaller than 1 minute markers. Though it is nice to see a fresh take on the Pilot.

  • http://URL MM

    The steinhart fliegers look like every other pilot watch. And the ocean 1′s are just submariner ripoffs… they are one of the least inspired companies out there.
    And most of the inexpensive Laco watches are mineral crystals, which is no good.

    • http://URL Ben

      I suppose we’ll agree to disagree, MM. But is mineral really a deal breaker? We wearing our pilots down the mine now? Every watch in this price range is a compromise of some sort. Next you’ll say the Maratac pilot isnt a great deal at $200 because the Miyota is too noisy. And by the by, at 46mm it’s plenty manly enough for any wrist. And of course the Steinhart looks like a classic pilot. Its an homage to the original design. The original inspiration. And speaking of homages, what company doesn’t make a submariner copy? Good design is good design. Maybe not original but, failing inspired design ill take it over boring any day. Its funny to me how crazy we can get about watches in this price range. Myself included. Until you spend serious money for an in-house movement, most are just a case stuffed with an ETA or some such.

    • http://URL MM

      Mineral is absolutely a deal breaker, especially on an everyday casual watch (which is what pilot/military watches are).

  • http://URL phillip chouzenoux

    As always I prefer a simplistic-minimalist case with numerals rather than dots+the numeral font is fabulous. The watch portrays presence, the mechanics of course Swiss which delineates pedigree. I have visited their web site on numerous occassions because of their Divers, have yet to purchase. This piece and a Mid Maratac would be my 2 considerations irregardless of difference in price.

  • http://URL Glenn T.

    After looking at the design for a while, I finally realized why the watch looks “different”… I would have preferred if the second hand was a solid lumed pointer like more traditional pilots watches (a la Stowa Flieger)… to me this second hand belongs on a diver. And yet the second hand on the CW divers are not lumed… very odd!

  • http://URL Scott

    I generally like this watch, but I’d like it better if they hadn’t used the “flieger” hands.

    The world really, really doesn’t need yet one more copy of a particular German watch from the 1940s.

    (There were lots of other equally interesting pilot’s watches at the time, but no one seems to know.)

    I like that the C10 is a interpretation, and not another copy, and I’d encourage Chr. Ward to take one more step away from flieger-ness, and change the hands.

    And, no, the mineral crystal is not a deal breaker. I’m not sure I understand the obsession with sapphire. Nice, but not necessary.

  • http://www.buycheaprolexwatches.com/ buy Cheap Rolex Watches

    design is just ok nothing special in it. a casio has would be better than this in this price range