Introducing the Christopher Ward x Worn & Wound C65 Sandstorm and Sandstorm Blackout Chronometers

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When looking at the watchmaking landscape of 2020, fans of affordable watches should be in awe of the variety of options available. Every day there seems to be something new and exciting, but, if you were to roll back the calendar ten years or so, pickings were slim. Crowdsourcing wasn’t a thing, Instagram had just kicked off, Worn & Wound was just an idea in our heads, so the affordable scene, so to speak, was limited to forums. Yet, despite the challenges of exposure, one brand managed to not only make it work, but thrive. One of the earliest direct-to-consumer brands, Christopher Ward, now 15 years old, are trailblazers, ushering in a whole generation of brands.

Please join us for an Instagram live discussion about this project with Mike France, CEO and Co-Founder of Christopher Ward and Zach Weiss at 11am EST, 11/17/20

A brand we’ve been writing about since year one, Christopher Ward has always represented many of the same principles that we built Worn & Wound on. Value, quality, accessibility, honesty, and a lack of pretension. Over the years, it has been amazing to watch them refine and develop their brand and their watches to where they are now, which is ranking amongst the best watches available at their price point, and a few notches higher as well.

Introducing the C65 Sandstorm and Sandstorm Blackout Chronometers

Today, after nearly 10 years of working together, we’re honored and excited to announce our first collaboration with Christopher Ward; the C65 Sandstorm and C65 Sandstorm Blackout Chronometers.

Please note: we’re running this post 3 hours before the watches are available for purchase (12PM EST) in order to give people some time to learn about the watches, enjoy, and decide if they want to buy them.


For this collaboration, we wanted to do more than just change a couple of colors of an existing watch. We wanted to make something different that would stand out from Christopher Ward’s existing collections, as well as our growing archive of collabs. So, we looked for inspiration outside of the world of watches, and landed on a theme both teams found very agreeable.

Inspired by rugged terrain and the vehicles designed to traverse it

The C65 Sandstorm and Sandstorm Blackout Chronometers were inspired by the rugged vehicles of desert rally racing and overlanding. Tools themselves, these vehicles endure and strive in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth. As a starting point for the collaboration, we knew we wanted to instill watches with at-a-glance toughness based on the armored appearances of these machines. We knew they needed a dark and earthy tonality, inspired by dusty and dirty exteriors, as well as hostile terrains. We wanted the watches to have understated masculinity and cool, timeless style, but we also wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the fact that these too are tools, built for a purpose.

Starting with the case, we based the C65 Sandstorm and Sandstorm Blackout on Christopher Ward’s best-in-class 38mm C65 “light catcher” design. A solid little rock of metal with exotic lines, it sports a box sapphire crystal, 150 meters of water resistance (just in case), and a robust screw-down crown. Sized perfectly for all-day-wear, the case measures 38 x 45.3 x 11.6mm, with 20mm lugs. The finishing and thoughtful curves of the C65 light catcher truly make it stand out from other similar sport watch cases on the market. A dance of lines and undercuts accompanied by exceptional finishing make it wear thinner, and look sleeker than you even expect. A perfect balance of fine watchmaking and serious specs.

The dynamic lines of the C65 Light catcher case
The Matte DLC Black case is stealthy and features a red contrast ring within the crown

For our collaboration, the deeply stamped case-back features a vortex motif representing the Sandstorm concept, and each is individually numbered. There are two versions: one in bright steel with brushed and polished surfaces, and the other in matte black. The former limited to 200 pieces, while the latter a mere 100.

Collaboration case back with vortex motif

While we relied on Christopher Ward’s existing C65 design for the case, for the dial we collaborated on something new that would give these watches their own personality. What emerged was a toolish sector-dial with an adventurous spirit. Concentric rings of raised metal alternate with valleys of matte color creating varying levels of height and visual weight. The metal rings match the cases around them, bringing industrial materiality into the dial. Punched out numerals in a military-inspired type mark the 3, 6, 9, and 12 hours, establishing a bold set of points to keep the watch oriented, while lume plots at every hour and on the hands make sure there is clear visibility in low light as well.

Drawing from the mighty C1 Moonglow, in lieu of a traditional date window, the date is read via a pointer-disk visible through a small gap towards the center of the dial, thus avoiding asymmetry-inducing holes or a fourth hand. The date is then printed on the dial surface, allowing for a quick read, framing the innermost section of the dial which ties it all together with a simple crosshair.

The Blackout version in khaki and black
A sector dial for tool watches
At home in the outdoors
Pointer date disk
Grade X1 BL C9 Super-LumiNova

For the Sandstorm version, the dial is rendered in a cool, metallic palette, with spikes of color from teal lume plots, and raised brushed metal surfaces for texture. Dark gray metal hour and minutes hands point to their respective marks while a contrasting white and red seconds hand ticks away. The date is clearly indicated by a red bar, adding a touch of warm contrast to the dial surface as well. The Sandstorm comes mounted to either a Camel canvas two-piece strap, for a relaxed and weathered look, or to Christopher Ward’s excellent steel bracelet, for clean and technical style.

The Sandstorm Blackout flips the contrast, with a brighter lower surface and black metal rings. The warm khaki, dark gray and bold red accents add legibility, while khaki lume plots stand out against blackened metal rings. Gun-metal hour and minute hands, and a red tipped seconds, tell the time. A red bar on a matching khaki disc points to the date for a seamless appearance. The Sandstorm Blackout comes on a Black canvas two-piece strap for a rugged, dark aesthetic.

casual style, rugged execution

The resulting dials, expertly manufactured by Christopher Ward, are dense and complex, with finishing that rivals the cases around them. Somewhere between an exploration-field watch and an instrument ripped from a dash, the Sandstorms accomplish what we set out to achieve: purposeful tool watches with a unique, hard-bitten look that gets across, in a non-overt way, some of the undeniable, primal appeal of the vehicles that inspired the concept.

Watches with such a technical appearance deserve a movement of a higher order, so we went with chronometer-rated Sellita SW200s. Regulated, tested, and certified by the COSC as accurate to -4/+6 seconds a day in six positions and a variety of temperatures, they promise a level of precision befitting the highly detailed dials, and technical machines that inspired them. Robust and reliable, the SW200 features 25-jewels, hacking, hand-winding, a customized date, 38 hours of power reserve, and a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour, for a smooth gliding seconds hand.

“I suppose the greatest compliment I can pay the C65 Sandstorm and C65 Sandstorm Blackout is that part of me wishes they were CW main-range series watches as they would become instant best-sellers.” – Mike France, CEO and Co-Founder of Christopher Ward

Nearly a year in the making, we couldn’t be more pleased with the Christopher Ward x Worn & Wound C65 Sandstorm and Sandstorm Blackout Chronometers. Exceptionally executed and uniquely attractive (well, in our humble opinions) they represent both brands well, as well as commemorate the years we’ve worked and grown together. And, of course, for fans of watches in general, offer a new and highly exclusive timepiece that is unlike any other. Starting at $1,085, the C65 Sandstorm and Sandstorm Blackout will be available 11/17/20 at 12pm EST only through the Windup Watch Shop. Watches will begin shipping in early December.

Images from this post:
Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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