For a lot of watch enthusiasts who got into the hobby when Christopher Ward’s watches were just beginning to catch on with the value oriented, timepiece forum crowd, the brand will always be associated with a certain variety of vintage inspired dive watch, for better or worse. Christopher Ward, of course, has gone on to do all kinds of interesting things in the intervening years, particularly in the areas of component manufacturing and pushing their design language forward into a new, contemporary territory. So their new collection, a trio of divers with the C65 Aquitaine tag, feels like a throwback of sorts. These are decidedly retro inspired sports watches, and at a glance will remind many of their first experience with a Christopher Ward watch, most likely some variety of Trident. Look a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that Christopher Ward has actually made many small refinements to their classic diver, resulting in a new series of watches that show the brand has been dutifully listening to their customer base for years.
Three watches have been introduced to launch the new Aquitaine collection, named for the home of Jacques Cousteau himself: the Aquitaine Automatic is a simple three hander in stainless steel with dials in green, blue, and white; the Aquitaine GMT adds a GMT hand to the retro-diver format and features dials in white or blue; and the Aquitaine Bronze is a dive watch with a blue dial and bezel and bronze case on a matching rubber strap. The watches share a format that will be familiar to most at a high level, with case lines that recall classic dive watches, large lumed hour plots, and a generally sober design that puts the focus on legibility and wearability. But Christopher Ward has packed a ton of little changes and adjustments into these watches that are worth calling out.
Where previous iterations of the C65 made do with 150 meters of water resistance, the new Aquitaine watches have been bumped up to 200 meters, which has become the defacto standard for a modern diver. Christopher Ward has also moved the date window from 3:00 to 6:00 to maintain some dial symmetry, and the company branding on the dial has been reduced to the Christopher Ward flag logo (their wordmark, frequently the most contentious aspect of the brand’s design language, has been moved to the back).
It’s also notable that the bezels are now sapphire, and take some aesthetic inspiration from the classic Fifty-Fathoms. As fans of the brand are well aware, Christopher Ward has done a lot of work with sapphire components in recent years, so this feels like a natural move for them, likely taking advantage of lessons learned from so many sapphire dials being produced. According to Christopher Ward’s Mike France, the use of sapphire in the bezel gives the design team more flexibility in terms of color than they’d be able to achieve with steel or ceramic, and allows these watches to have gentler curves, which France compares to the shape of a Jaguar E-Type.
In terms of specs, all of the Aquitaine watches come in at 41mm in diameter, with lug to lug measurements of 46.68mm. The two three handed watches are 12.45mm tall, while the GMT measures 12.7mm thick. They run on Sellita SW 200 movements (or an SW 330 for the GMT) and the bronze C65 has been given COSC certification. Retail pricing is set at $1,075 for the Automatic, $1,350 for the GMT, and $1,325 for the Bronze. Christopher Ward