The C63 Sealander Elite is a titanium general-purpose sports watch. While watch sub-categories are a topic best saved for another day, this lack of specificity is to say it’s a capable watch that is designed for comfort when exerting yourself at some activity, that is likely not meant to be worn at your wedding, though nothing is stopping you from doing so. At 40mm x 46.9mm x 10.7mm, it sits at that sweet spot for most wrists, particularly for a watch with no vintage inclinations, and is appropriately thin. The 40mm diameter is also a bit misleading as with a minimally intrusive crown the watch wears narrower than other 40mm watches. They also went out of their way to lighten this watch by removing material from the dial and movement holder, achieving 45g for the watch head, which is very light and adds to comfort and ease of wear.
Before getting to the star of the show, so to speak, the use of titanium is worth pointing out. The other “elite” models found in CW’s C60 line also utilize the lightweight metal, which is put to good use in their light catcher design. The metal is finished beautifully, mixing densely brushed regions with mirror polished bevels, and just a touch of bead blasting on undercuts. The naturally dark, warm tonality of the metal is emphasized by the deft finishing to a striking result.
Sunken into the right side of the case is the push-button crown that all the fuss is about. Though it protrudes just a hair, at a glance it’s as though there is no crown at all. Though very uncommon, such a thing is not unheard of, particularly in the past. The Bulova Accutron Astronaut had a flip-up crown on its case back (this is one I used to own and regret letting go of), while the Jaeger LeCoultre Futurematic had a flat toothed wheel on its back you have to slide to engage a setting mechanism. Many Seikos also managed to bury their crowns in the meat of the case, such as with the 6139-7010. That’s just to name a few.
In modern times, you only have the Omega AquaTerra Ultra Light, to my knowledge, which CW seems to have set their sights on when making this watch, as theirs too uses a push-button, or “telescoping” if you’re fancy, crown. Of course, it also is made out of “gamma titanium” with a titanium movement, and thus has a price tag, that like the term “gamma,” seems best suited for high falutin comic book characters. CW wanted to bring that sleek piece of tech down to the masses, which is why we’re here today.
The functionality of the crown is simple enough. When sunken, it’s almost flush to the case, but not “locked” like a screw-down crown might be. To set the time, one “pushes” the crown and it pops out. In its extended form, the crown is a thin toothed wheel, just a hair over 1mm thick, on the end of a post. At that point, you can then pull it out to the first and second stops to change the date and time respectively. On the positive side, the extended crown is robust, not wobbling around or feeling delicate, which I was concerned about given the mechanism. On the negative, the very thin crown doesn’t feel nice between your fingers. While not a big issue, as setting the date/time is a brief and occasional interaction with the watch, it was noticeable.
More importantly, however, is how well the actual push-button mechanism works. And it was, well, a bit iffy. Pushing the crown while sunken didn’t always make it pop out, nor did pushing it in make it always want to stay. And here and there, I’d look down at my wrist and find the crown extended despite not having been pushed, to my knowledge. Admittedly, the watch CW sent over is not a production model and has likely been overly played with, but it does give me some concern over what the crown might be like after a few months or years of regular use. Furthermore, I imagine what it might be like if you got some sticky liquid on it, like a splash of beer or a Pina Colada, if you’re so inclined, and how that might affect it. While never good for a crown, this feels more exposed and susceptible to such an issue.
The question is, is it worth it, both for you, the potential consumer, and CW. Starting with the latter, I’d still say definitely. This crown is still an achievement. Not only is it novel and serves an ergonomic purpose, it’s also providing water resistance to 150m. I don’t think, nor hope, this is a one-off use of this concept for CW. The idea of a line of watches with flush crowns as almost a signature of a non-dive-sports-watch for CW is very exciting. But, as with all things, I do think there is room for improvement. Some sort of o-ring cradle that the crown clearly sat in, that would prevent any type of liquid from getting into the mechanism itself (the internals are well-sealed) would be reassuring at least. And then just some tweaking of the mechanism to make sure it always popped out and in the first try.
For the consumer, it’s more of a maybe depending on your willingness to take a slight risk for the sake of something different, and how you expect to use the watch. I fully assume, or at least expect, that a brand-new, production version of this watch will work correctly, and could never have an issue. Should you take care of it, not play with the crown like it’s the pusher on a ballpoint pen, and avoid immersing your hand in fruit juices and such, you’ll likely be just fine. But, watches do occasionally have issues as they are exposed to the world via your wrist, and sh*t happens, so I do think there is an increased possibility that something could go wrong here. I mean, chrono-pushers are exposed too, and they occasionally get stuck. Life goes on.