The first genuine super compressor made in nearly 50 years...
In the history of dive watches the super compressor is something of an oddity. Invented by Ervin Piquerez S.A. (EPSA), it used a spring-loaded mechanism on the inside of the case back to improve a watch’s water resistance. Basically, the water pressure increases the further you go underwater. Therefore the deeper you dived, the tighter the caseback was pushed against the case.
Whilst the technology has been made redundant by modern manufacturing, Christopher Ward has resurrected it. Presumably for no better reason than the bragging rights such an accomplishment merits.
Not that I’m criticising them, because the end result is this - the C65 Super Compressor. It’s the first genuine super compressor in nearly 50 years, and it’s quite the statement piece.
The C65 Super Compressor - What it does
Indeed, the watch is a bold departure from Christopher Ward’s usually reserved designs. But don’t let that fool you, because this watch is still a very capable diver. It’s got a water-resistance of 150m, which isn’t remarkable, but it will get the job done. The bottom crown is also screw-down, but the top one which turns the bezel, is not. It might seem like an odd choice not to make both crowns screw-down, but as the bezel crown doesn’t pull out, only rotate, it’s not really a problem. The C65 Super Compressor also has a domed sapphire crystal, which offers the best protection from scratches.Inside the watch you’ll find a Sellita SW200, which as we all know is a clone of the iconic ETA 2824. It’s got 26 jewels, a 38 hour power reserve, and beats at a rate of 4Hz. Overall it’s your standard Swiss automatic movement, and Christopher Ward states it should be accurate to within 20 seconds a day.
The movement can be viewed through a display caseback, a first for a super compressor. This means that you can actually see the compression spring that helps give the watch it’s name. The 300 micron thick spring is housed within an orange ring, that is engraved with a vintage diving bell icon. As simple as this feature is, it’s nonetheless pretty cool to be able to see how this watch differs from other divers.
Hands On Thoughts
As I’ve come to expect from Christopher Ward cases, it feels nice and slim on the wrist. And, at 13mm thick, the C65 Super Compressor easily slips under a cuff. It also doesn’t wear too big, with a width of 41mm. The finishing is a joy to look at, and the polished chamfers not only look good, but they also help make the watch look thinner than it really is.
The top crown operates the bezel, and has a classic crosshatch design that’s associated with the original super compressors. I also appreciate that bold orange outer ring on the crown head. The crown is really easy to operate and the bezel clicks crisply as it turns. There’s a reasonable amount of play with the action, but I’m not sure if this is just because of the design of an internal bezel, rather than poor quality.As I mentioned earlier, the dial is a big departure from Christopher Ward’s previous vintage-inspired offerings, and it’s very reminiscent of watches from the late Sixties and early Seventies. This particular colourway is called “Black Sand”, thanks to the brown fumé dial.
The finishing of the dial is exceptional for the price point, and I really like those wedge-shaped applied markers. Their height gives the dial some real depth, as well as playing nicely on the light.
In the past, I’ve been highly critical of the finishing on Christopher Ward’s handsets, but the ones on the C65 Super Compressor are really well done, and there are no obvious flaws. Personally, I’m not keen on the orange minute hand, but there’s no denying the orange elements are very legible against the dark dial.
Speaking of legibility, the lume is also pretty decent on the C65 Super Compressor. Whilst there’s not a lot of it on the dial, it’s easy to read and pretty bright in the dark. This is because Christopher Ward have used white X1 grade C1 Super-LumiNova, which is far brighter than the yellow “old radium” lume used on previous C65’s. It’s nice to see Christopher Ward realising not every vintage-inspired watch needs lume with a faux patina, and I hope it’s a trend we see continue.
The C65 Super Compressor is offered on a variety of straps, but ours came on the orange Tiber leather. It’s an exceptionally bold look that won’t be for everyone, but like all Christopher Ward straps it’s good quality, and it’s supple without feeling cheap. It’s also got quick release spring bars, which is a neat little plus point.
Watch Straps for the Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor
Of course, whilst there’s nothing wrong with the strap options from Christopher Ward, we can’t resist showing the C65 Super Compressor on a few of our own straps. As usual, I’ve picked out three which I think suit the watch to a tee.
ZULUDIVER 300 (MKII) Italian Rubber Watch StrapI’m going to kick things off by continuing with the bold use of orange and put the watch on our ZULUDIVER 300 Italian Rubber Strap. The rubber is a more practical option for those wanting to actually dive with the Super Compressor, and the orange matches perfectly with the watch.
ZULUDIVER Quick Release Sailcloth Waterproof Divers Watch StrapNext is our ZULUDIVER Sailcloth strap, which looks as though it was made for the Super Compressor. The black fabric gives the watch a more conventional look, whilst the orange stitching perfectly matches the orange elements of the watch. It’s also got quick release spring bars, so it’s easy to take on or off.
Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch StrapLastly we finish off with the heretical act of putting a leather strap on a dive watch. Our Vintage Highley in reddish brown brings out the brown of the dial, and really gives the watch a funky 70’s look.
Things We Would Change About the C65 Super Compressor
As usual with Christopher Ward watches, I find it very hard to find fault with the quality of the watch itself. Putting my personal tastes aside, my only real criticism of the design is the overly-fussy minute track, which clutters up an otherwise clean dial.
Other than that, the design and overall quality of the watch is superb. That said, this particular press sample has fallen victim to a tiny QC failure, which a few people noticed when the watch was initially released.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the “Super Compressor” text on the dial is fractionally too far to the left. It’s a really small thing that most of us won’t notice, and going forward Christopher Ward will be ensuring the text is correctly aligned on new stock.
This near imperceptible flaw aside, there’s nothing else I feel like I can criticise for a watch at this price point.
With a retail price of £895 on a leather strap, the C65 Super Compressor is a really intriguing offering from Christopher Ward. For the money it’s an excellent value proposition, and the watch is built to Christopher Ward’s usual high standards.
Of course on top of that you’ve also got the added cool-factor that this watch is a genuine super compressor, and not just a normal diver built in that style. And, whilst it makes no practical difference to the watch’s water resistance, it’s the sort of over-engineered feature that we watch nerds love to see.
Aesthetically, I don’t think the watch will be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m glad that Christopher Ward chose to put themselves out there and go with a more funky design. The C65 Super Compressor definitely has a modern feel to it, but there are enough vintage design cues to link it back to the original super compressors that inspired it.
Overall I’d say this is a great watch for anyone after a very well-made watch that’s just a little bit different from the usual dive watches you find at this price point.
We’d like to thank Christopher Ward for sending the watch in on loan. To purchase the C65 Super Compressor, visit Christopher Ward’s website here.