A few months ago, Christopher Ward released a few extra options for their C8 and C11 pilot watches, bringing a PVD case and buckle finish to the already broad line. This was a welcome addition that was asked for by forum members and reviewers alike. This is my first time taking a look at the C11, which has always caught my eye with its unique shape and modern aviation feel.
Case: 316L Stainless Steel – PVD Black
Movement: Ronda 5030.D
Dial: Chrono – Aviation Style
Lens: Sapphire with Anti-Reflective
Case Back: Solid – Screw In
Strap: Brown or Black Leather, Buckle
Water Res.: 100m
Dimensions: 42mm Case, 22mm Strap
Crown: Press In
The standard C11 comes with a Sellita SW200 automatic movement while the chronograph utilizes a Ronda 5030.D quartz movement. Clearly this was to kill two birds with one stone, add a less expensive option and wrap a chrono in at the same time, which would usually cost a heck of a lot more with an mechanical, such as a Valjoux 7750, inside. The C11 Chrono comes in at $550 for the PVD and $480 for the stainless models, making them around $100 less than their automatic counterparts.
The shape of the C11 is squarish; a flat slab with bowed sides that chamfer towards the lugs. The shape of this case is really in a quite unique. Most tend to do a straight copy of a Bell & Ross and go with a very direct square, but Christopher Ward took the time to make theirs a bit different. Adding the sharp edges while pulling on the sides a bit, giving it a softer feel.
The chrono buttons are sharply designed, large and easy to actuate, standing very proud off the case. Throughout the entire watch are flat screws, which detail the top and bottom side of the case as well as the buckle. Surprisingly, the screws on the buckle are real and you can actually see the opposing side of the screw on the inside of the buckle. This is the attention to detail that I have come to expect and love from Christopher Ward.
With the C11 you have your choice of either a brown or black leather strap. In my experience the strap that comes with the C11 is much softer than other Christopher Ward models tested. With the same grain as other straps from the line, the hide on this watch is soft and pliable. The strap features the same tool-less spring bars found on other Christopher Ward straps. I think this is a great feature. Not having to stick a tool into the back of a PVD coated case is a great protective measure.
Sharp and very precise, the face is stark black and white and dressed in the traditional aviation style and typography. A lot of time was spent on the placement, overall size, and feel of the dial. Different from the non-chrono version of the C11 is the addition of very minutely scribed inner dials that are detailed for each respective marker type. The 3, 6, and 9 are all cut into in order to make room for these three dials which is a little annoying, but normal practice. The left side minute dial is made to look like a horizon meter which is subtle enough to be an accent rather than trying to clone dials from an aircraft.
Something that should be noted and may be overlooked are the dial hour and minute markings. There are only two weights of lines for the entire dial which keeps everything in balance and easy to refer to. Thin strokes are reserved for accents and markers, while thicker strokes are for seconds and the main four hour markers.
On the back of the C11 is a closed steel case back with “Pervenio Pro Astrum Altus”, a wave pattern and a silhouette of a jet deeply etched in. The front crystal is sapphire with one of the most discrete anti-reflective coatings I have ever seen, barely visible at all.
The 42mm x 10mm case sits well on the wrist and is comfortable to wear, though the totally flat design does make it shift around a bit. That being said, due to the quartz movement inside, the weight of the C11 is a modest 102g, making the watch easy to wear for prolonged periods. The watch actually appears quite a bit larger than it is, because of the blocky case design and bold dial. Overall, the C11 has great wrist presence and an agressive look that is very appealing.
The C11 is another move by Christopher Ward to create their own aesthetic. Sometimes following legacy designs, Ward has recently started to push the envelope a bit on their designs and the C11 is another very successful establishment. Everything from its size, options, colors and overall painstaking attention to detail is why the C11 PVD is worth every penny of the $550 price tag. Even though I am a big fan of automatics, I can easily wear this on a daily basis, appreciating its superb design and engineering.
by James Helms