Hands-On With The New Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph ‘Wild Thing’

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Christopher Ward lets their hair down a bit with the release of the new C65 Chronograph nicknamed ‘Wild Thing’. This is the first chronograph to grace the C65 family, and marks the first time a chronograph has appeared in the retro diver range. The watch eschews the brand’s typically reserved styling when it comes to chronographs, instead embracing a colorful tone with vibrant details. This is a fun watch that comes together better than it probably should in what appears to be, somewhat ironically, a step toward maturity for the brand. 

The C65 Chronograph is the latest in what’s been a full year of releases from Christopher Ward, showing no signs of slowing in a year that has had many brands from many industries on their heels. While their timelines have been altered (I’m told this was meant to be a springtime release), the brand’s operational capacity feels strong as ever. Beyond that, the watches they’ve brought to market this year feel more cohesive in their design and construction. From the C60 Sapphire, to the C65 Super Compressor, to this latest C65 Chronograph.

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$1935

Hands-On With The New Christopher Ward C65 Chronograph ‘Wild Thing’

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
Selitta SW510 BH
Dial
Azzuré Blue
Lume
Super-LumiNova® Grade X1 GL C1
Lens
Box Sapphire
Strap
Leather, Tropic Rubber, Stainless Steel
Water Resistance
150m
Dimensions
41×47.1mm
Thickness
15mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
Screw Down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1935

The C65 Chronograph

Christopher Ward calls the C65 Chronograph the ‘Wild Thing’ on account of its retro-sport designation and ‘psychedelic’ color scheme. That may sound like a description of a tie-dye dial and Mary Jane engraving on the back, but in reality the watch is far more composed and accessible in its take on a multi-color design. A deep blue Azzuré dial hosts dual silver sub-dials and tachymeter scale. Nothing too out of the ordinary there. The first hit of color you’ll notice is the 5 minute segments of blue and red within the minute totalizer at 3 o’clock. From zero to 5 minutes is sectioned in blue, while 5 to 10 receives the red application. These are joined by orange timing hands for both the seconds and minutes. The orange and blue compliment each other nicely (as you’d expect from complimentary colors), however the red and blue within the minute totalizer stand in contrast as a welcome bit of distraction. They are different enough to jar you away from an otherwise comfortable approach to dial design. And then, you dig a little further, and discover details hidden away that push the dial into “oh, that’s interesting” territory. 

The first of these details is the date disc, appearing through an aperture at 6 o’clock. The numerals are printed in red on a white base, so instead of matching it to the dial to blend in, they’ve highlighted as a design feature. We commented on a similar execution from TAG Heuer in their Carrera Sport Chronograph, and appreciate the willingness to lean into the complication rather than hide it away (in which case, maybe just leave it off altogether?).

The next bit of red you’ll notice is hidden under the distortion of the box sapphire crystal, and it’s the word “tachymeter” written at the start of the scale. From here, a sharp eye will see the final bits of red in the small points of lume at the ends of the hour markers. Not the squares of lume on the batons themselves, but the dot at the very edge of the dial. On the hours 12 through 4 these dots are red, where they are regular lume around the remainder of the dial. They are far too small to be of any functional use, but I appreciate their inclusion as the last bit of a scavenger hunt for colorful easter eggs placed on the dial. 

A matte blue aluminum bezel insert with minute marking frames everything nicely, and provides a welcome purpose as the easiest way to read the minutes. The minute hand itself extends into the tachy scale, completely eclipsing the minute hashes on the dial itself, making a precise setting of the time a bit frustrating, but it’s easiest to refer to the bezel for such things.

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The Case

The C65 Chronograph measures 41mm in diameter by 15mm thick. The lug to lug distance is 47.1mm. Yes, it’s on the thick side, but it does manage to hide it rather effectively. The sapphire accounts for a portion of the height, while the undercarriage of the case is tucked away under a shapely case edge. There is a brushed section of case wall that measures about 3mm in height, and it draws much of the attention. The case begins to tuck in underneath that brushed ridge and the bulk of mass sits within a tight footprint on the wrist. Contrasted with something like the Tudor Heritage Chronograph, this feels miles thinner.

The short lugs means the watch as a whole sits comfortably within the confines of my 7.25 inch wrist, and the brushed surfaces do a great job of accenting the dial rather than stealing attention from it. The 22mm span between the lugs adds some visual heft to the package, but again makes the dial and bezel feel a bit smaller than they are. Flipping it over you’re greeted to a view of the automatic Sellita SW510 within. It’s not a particularly pretty movement, but at this price point it doesn’t need to be. A closed caseback would have been my preference, but many buyers appreciate the view. 

You may not notice at a glance, but this is a dive watch, and as such it receives a 150m depth rating (the same as the Super Compressor we reviewed here), and a screw down crown and pushers. Manipulating is easy thanks to the oversized crown, and the pushers get that beefy look we love with the screw downs. There aren’t many other dive watch features here, save for the unidirectional rotating bezel, but if you’re a serious diver it’ll do the trick as a backup to your dive computer. Probably.

Strap & Wearability

The C65 Chronograph is offered on a light brown leather strap as seen in the pictures here, as well as a stainless steel bracelet. The light brown strap heightens the playful theme of the watch as a base color for the dial to pop off of. In addition to these two options there is a rubber tropic strap option should you want to lean into the dive watch roots on the watch. 

On the wrist the C65 is comfortable and usable. Despite its heft, I wore the watch over long periods forgetting it was there, and to me, this is rarely captured quality. Obviously, this will vary from wrist to wrist, but when a watch fits you just right as to retreat from mind, it’s a keeper. I attribute this to the size of the bulge on the bottom of the case which, on my wrist, nestles in perfectly. Additionally, the leather strap is supple and well worked in to avoid any stiffness, allowing the watch to lay flat on the wrist. 

The hands feature a single strip of lume down their center, with polished edges on either side. They aren’t thick and as a result legibility suffers as there is a lot going on with this dial. The bright orange timing seconds hand is generally the first thing that you’ll notice at a glance, and the hour and minute hand have a way of getting lost in the playfulness of the dial. Not a bad thing, but it can take a minute to  get a fix on the time. The hour markers are fully polished along their top, so depending on the lighting they can disappear from sight.

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The Movement

Christopher Ward is using a Selitta SW510 BH in the C65 Chronograph, which offers 48 hours of reserve and a twin-flag ‘Colimaçoné’ finished rotor. This is a cam  operated chronograph with hacking seconds and a quick set date. We’ve seen this same unit in a number of other watches from the likes of Farer and Sinn, and while it’s not the fanciest option it is plenty robust as it’s based on the Valjoux 7750. Plus, in the sub $2,000 range this is as good as you’ll find.

Pricing & Conclusions

The so-called ‘Wild Thing’ may not be all that wild at the end of the day, but it is a refreshing take on a dual register chronograph at a reasonable price. It’s just fun enough to bring some personality to the wrist, while still being reasonable enough to wear around other (non watch) people without getting a few looks. Beyond that, this is a well executed watch, and that’s what stands out the most to me. This is continuation of Christopher Ward moving in the right direction by paying attention to the details, and making a watch that punches well above its weight. This is a watch I’d have expected from a brand like Tudor, but the fact that it’s coming from Christopher Ward should say a lot. If you haven’t given them any consideration in recent years due to a diluted catalog or the constant discounts, it might be time for a second look. 

The C65 Chronograph is priced from $1,935 on a leather or tropic rubber strap, and from $2,055 on a stainless-steel bracelet. It is available to purchase directly from Christopher Ward right here.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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