For the last few months, Christopher Ward has received an unprecedented amount of attention from watch media and the enthusiast public for the release of the Bel Canto, a genuine industry phenomenon that has won over collectors of all stripes. The release was honestly timed just about perfectly, allowing the brand to get it into the hands of fans just ahead of the holiday shopping season and all of the listmaking that tends to happen at the end of the year, where the Bel Canto figured prominently. Supplemental releases in additional colorways have since sold out, and it appears that CW is ready to ride the Bel Canto wave throughout 2023 as the chiming watch is delivered to anxiously awaiting enthusiasts. But the first non Bel Canto related release of the year is something of a return to Christopher Ward’s tool watch roots. No chiming here, and no exposed mechanisms on the dial, showing that Christopher Ward is not moving directly into the haute horlogery sphere just yet.
The new C65 Dune series takes the popular C65 sports watch format into a desert inspired aesthetic. The trio of watches is named after Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, and each watch makes use of tan and beige tones to underline a sandy theme. These are not hardcore tool watches in the traditional sense, though. They make use of Christopher Ward’s excellent “Light-Catcher” case finishing, which highlights unexpected bevels and undercuts in the complex case geometry and adds just a touch of elegance to each watch, lifting it out of strict military issued field watch territory.
The most straightforward of the three new watches is the C65 Dune Automatic. What CW has done with this watch (and the others) is use last year’s Aquitaine diver as a starting point and then lose the bezel while adding the aforementioned dune-like tones. The Dune Automatic, then, is a bit of a diver/field watch hybrid. We get the big lume filled markers you’d find on a dive watch, combined with an easy wearing 38mm case without the additional adornment of a rotating bezel. Four dial variants are available for this reference: Black Sand, Marine Blue, Beachgrass, and White Sand.
Next up is the C65 Dune Bronze, which is effectively a Dune Automatic with a bronze case and bracelet. Notably, this is the first time Christopher Ward has issued a bronze bracelet, and it looks to be very nicely realized, with a significant taper and micro-adjustment capability in the clasp. Of the new Dune series watches, this is the only one to be a certified chronometer, featuring a higher spec Sellita SW200 movement. The C65 Dune Bronze is available in Marine Blue and Beachgrass dial variants.
Finally, we have the C65 Dune GMT LE. It uses the same 38mm case platform as its time and date enabled siblings, but adds a GMT hand and an interior 24 hour scale on the bi-color rehaut. Christopher Ward is positioning this model as a kind of travel field watch, and it has a higher dose of tan thanks to the lower half of that 24 hour scale. The GMT uses a Sellita SW330-2 movement with a 56 hour power reserve, and is a 200 piece limited edition available only with the pictured black dial.
These are attractive sports watches that can pull off the “casual elegance” thing as well if you need them to, and assuming they’re up to the same fit and finish standards of last year’s Aquitaine releases, they represent a solid value as well, which is what Christopher Ward has really always been about, even as they progress into luxurious fare like the Bel Canto. Pricing for the Dune series sees the Automatic coming in at $850, the Dune Bronze at $1,065, and the limited edition GMT at $1,195. Christopher Ward