The Christopher Ward C65 Sandhurst arrives at WatchGecko HQ, but is it Your Next Watch?
Welcome back to Your Next Watch, an ongoing series that looks at the watches you’re considering buying at the moment and breaks them down based on real hands-on experience with them.
We recently looked at chronographs from our friends in the industry that sits below the £500 mark. One brand that featured was Christopher Ward. This is still a young English brand that is one of the leading microbrands in the industry. Although their C3 Grand Tourer Chronograph caught my eye, it’s their C65 Sandhurst Series 1 that we’re exploring more of today. And rightfully so, this sits in their Military Collection alongside two other watches that are licenced by the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
So, as this is a pretty noteworthy collaboration you’d hope the watch draws parallels to the MOD’s polished approach to operations, right? Let’s take a deeper dive into this one...
The Christopher Ward C65 Sandhurst - What it does
Before we even get to the watch, Christopher Ward has clearly invested time and thought into the whole first impression process for their customers. The box the watch arrives in is solid, simple yet substantial. Think Apple packaging, but with a little more wood, suede and ‘heft’. The watch itself comes in at 38mm wide with a thickness of 11.6mm and a lug to lug measurement right around 45mm. Those are pretty great stats for a field watch.
The stainless steel case itself effectively combines both brushed and polished surfaces to really strengthen this watches robust feel. Due to the case design and the way the caseback sits ‘in’ the wrist, the watch actually feels more like a >10mm thick piece in the real world. Substantial lugs and a large plain steel bezel only add to the quality.
Flipping the watch over we have an engraved solid caseback depicting the British Army heraldic badge with ‘British Army W10’ just below. If you ever were in doubt about the credibility of this watch, the case back is your friendly reminder.
The watch is powered by the Sellita SW200 movement which if you’ve been around watches you’ll know it’s one of the most popular movements for swiss made watches that don’t either have in house manufacturing capabilities or don’t go for the ETA 2824. This is actually the chronometer-certified (COSC) grade of the movement which naturally worked faultlessly during my time with the watch.
Turning the watch back over we are met with a matt black dial with white printing and faux patina lume present. Christopher Ward openly admits that the C65 Sandhurst takes influence from the Smiths W10 which is understandable. The W10 is such a recognisable military design, this approach means CW have ticked a lot of boxes right away.
So what is different with a Smiths W10 and the C65 Sandhurst? Naturally, not much. The printed numerals are a slightly more refined font, the hands are longer, the second’s hand on the CW is not far off being 50%, 50% red and we don’t see the broad arrow on the dial.
We also get 150m of water resistance and a boxed sapphire crystal. A significant upgrade on original military watches.
The Christopher Ward has enjoyed a few weeks of regular wear and easily the most enjoyable feature of the watch is the simplicity in its design. Much like the Hamilton Pilot Pioneer recently reviewed, I don’t need chronographs, moon phases, days or even dates on my watch. When I’m glancing down to my wrist 9 times out of 10 I’m looking for the time. The Christopher Ward delivers everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
I did regularly notice the length of the hands. Sure we love a nice long handset as much as the next watch enthusiast, however, on the Sandhurst they feel particularly long. It doesn’t sound like much, but at certain times when the hands are close to each other, it took me by surprise by how long it took to register the time accurately.
Let’s talk about the case on this watch. It’s fantastic. The mixture and execution of finishes combined with the simple balanced design and overall proportions are spot on. The case seriously punches well above its weight competing with watches easily double the price.
Naturally, the watch is purposeful. Whenever I wear this watch it gives me the adventure feels This watch gives you the confidence in its ability to act as a reliable, dependable tool when you need it to be. The proportions enable it to be comfortable without sacrificing quality or presence.
Watch straps for the Christopher Ward C65 Sandhurst
Fortunately, if you’re considering the Sandhurst, you’re in for a treat. This watch looks A1 on a huge range of straps. The watch is 20mm wide at the lugs so you can pretty much go in any direction with the strap choices. Let’s just get straight into it.
ZULUDIVER Elasticated Woven Military Watch Strap in Green & Yellow
We’re starting off strong with one of the latest editions to our Military style straps, the Elasticated Woven Military Watch Strap. This strap has a familiar feeling to it due to its traditional military style construction however the use of elastic means it is so comfortable. Seriously, if you thought our standard Military bands were comfortable you need to give our Elasticated Woven Military Watch Straps a go. Due to them being elastic, they never feel too tight/loose either as they will adjust on the go. Here the yellow stripe picks up and hints on the faux patina as well as complementing the red-tipped second’s hand.
Geckota Cheswell Leather in Distressed Grey
We’re starting this strap section off strong with the Cheswell in Distressed Grey and instantly this combo makes the watch look incredibly casual. As we find ourselves recommending more and more grey straps the Cheswell stands out as a perfect complimentary option for the Sandhurst for three main reasons. To start with the watch is very subdued in design meaning the distressed leather adds some much-needed texture to the watch. Secondly, grey is so versatile and the Cheswell is a darker tone and finally, you get easy to use quick release spring bars for simple strap changes.
Kington Vintage Style Leather in Brown
Next, we have something a little more classical that pulls on the historical touches of the Sandhurst. The Kington Dress has a beautiful sheen which covers the pull-up leather below. The result is a strap that will give the illusion of lovely worn leather instantly. We also see contrasting beige stitching to pick up on the faux patina lume through the dial. The final icing on the cake for this strap is the padding. This strap is seriously comfortable.
Changes for the C65 Sandhurst
We’ve yet to come across a completely perfect watch (although some have come pretty close) so with that in mind, let’s take a critical look at the Sandhurst and see what we would change…
Those hands - Some of you probably saw this coming and although they have the same style as the Smiths W10, they’re pretty long. As mentioned before both hour and minute hands are surprisingly similar in style and length which felt like it was a hindrance to the legibility of the piece. This is only emphasised by how clean and simple the rest of the dial is.
The Christopher Ward logo - Now one only has to Google ‘Christopher Ward logos’ to gather an understanding on how much CW have played around with their logos over the years. I think a slightly different font for the Sandhurst would suit it better.
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Our horological tribute to the Royal Air Force, the C65 Cranwell is a watch in the same vein of the highly legible watches used by RAF pilots last century. It finds inspiration in two of the most definitive pilot's watches ever made: the '6B/346' models produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. It’s essential for any aviation devotee. #ChristopherWard #TheMilitaryCollection #MinistryofDefence #RoyalAirForce #RAF #Cranwell
Bracelet - The C65 Sandhurst is available on a solid metal bracelet. Commercially, this makes sense. Most people are attracted to a bracelet and will gravitate towards one when buying a new watch (guilty). However, just considering the watch, it’s style and the story behind it, I wouldn’t expect to see a metal bracelet. Less of a complaint, more of an observation. (The above image is the C65 Cranwell, however the bracelet is the same).
Final thoughts on the C65 Sandhurst
So does the Sandhurst C65 respectively compare to the gravity of the collaboration with the MOD and the British Army? I think the watch is a neat model to pick up if you want a modern field watch with a more unique history when compared to other historically focused field watches. A COSC certified movement, with an appropriate design and a great case, is a huge benefit of this watch; considering you can pick up this model for £795.
At the start of 2020, we received some interesting news from the brand. The main man himself is stepping away from the company after nearly 16 years. Chris Ward leaves behind a company that recently saw an investment of just over £6 million so we’re sure although the brand has lost their main man, they will continue to stay relevant in the British watch world.
If the Sandhurst C65 is anything to go by, Christopher Ward’s (the watch brand) future is looking very bright…
To find out more about the Military collection including the C65 Dartmouth Series 1 and the C65 Cranwell Series 1 for the Royal Navy and British Army respectfully, be sure to head over to the Christopher Ward website here.