GMT watches are often described as “romantic.” Watches that have a GMT function, which stands for “Greenwich Mean Time” describes watches that can track two or more time zones. Wearers of these watches describe feeling a connection with their GMT watch that is not felt with anything else in their collection. Perhaps for frequent travelers, being able to glance at their watch and know what time it is back home will soothe their yearning for home. I’ve never owned a GMT or even handled one until the Christopher Ward C65 GMT showed up on my doorstep. I experienced many firsts with the C65 GMT and after wearing it, the feeling of romance GMT wearers often describe finally made sense to me.
Christopher Ward launched their first watch in 2005 and over the past 14 years, they have released a number of watches ranging from dressy 2-hand automatics to complex chronographs. The brand, based in London, prides themselves on being able to deliver a watch with Swiss Made on the dial that also the soul of England.
Their logo, an amalgamation of the Swiss and English flags, conveys this to the wearer on every watch they produce. The brand has gone through several logo changes in recent years, finally settling on a serif font reading simply, “Christopher Ward,” which is usually placed at the 9 o’clock position on the dial. I will discuss this more later as it falls into the design of the watch.
A Good Start
The packaging for the C65 GMT starts with the shipping box. Tearing away the perforated cardboard strip on the shipping box and opening the lid reveals Enjoy your new Christopher Ward. Black foam padding and a black strap allow you to pull the watch box out of the shipping container. The black watch box contains multiple layers, starting with a personalized letter from the founders, a neatly folded polishing cloth and the instruction manual. The second layer opens using a small magnetic latch, revealing the watch. I normally don’t discuss packaging, but I felt the execution here was worth mentioning.
The case of the C65 GMT is immediately impressive. There isn’t a surface on the watch that is plain. Multiple bevels on the case sides give it plenty of texture and help slim down the case without making it feel small. The coin edge bezel is crisp, easy to grip and thin. This gives the dial plenty of real estate so nothing is crammed. You can also rotate the bezel, allowing you to track 3 time zones at once.
All of this leads up to my favorite aspect of the design of the watch, the crystal. A sapphire glass box rising above the bezel is a pleasure to look at. There is only a small amount of distortion near the edges of the crystal, leaving the rest of the dial legible from all angles. Christopher Ward doesn’t explicitly say in their specs that anti-reflective coating is applied but it appears there is AR applied. The crystal plays with the light at multiple angles, making the dial a pleasure to behold every time you check the time.
Form Follows Function
The dial layout on the C65 GMT has a lot going on, in a good way. The first thing most people will notice is the Christopher Ward text at the 9 o’clock position. Their twin flag logo is stamped onto the dial at the 12 o’clock position, a departure from not only their previous dial designs, but from most watches in general.
The second thing that most people will notice is the color of the lume. Christopher Ward opted for Old Radium lume, which appears aged during the day, but still glows brightly at night. The C65 GMT falls into the Trident line of dive watches, specifically the C65 Trident diver which was derived from diver designs of the 1960s. I could flip a coin on whether I like faux aged lume or not. It’s hard to say if this watch would still have the same charm if the lume were white.
Christopher Ward recently released two new colorways of the C65 GMT. A new Pepsi-style bezel with a black dial and white lume as well as a blue dial in the same bezel and lume color as this version now round out the line.
These elements all wrap up into a package of design that is well executed and produce a well-balanced dial layout, despite appearing asymmetrical on first glance. The 9 o’clock text is balanced by the date window at 3 o’clock. The twin flag is balanced by the text Automatic GMT at 6 o’clock. The aged lume fits with Christopher Ward’s overall design plan for the Trident line. Christopher Ward created a fresh look for a classic design.
The case dimensions are stellar for a GMT. The C65 GMT is thin while providing just enough wrist presence. It comes in at 41mm wide, 47mm lug-to-lug and 12mm thick. The 316L stainless steel case is going to fit a lot of wrists comfortably. The lugs slope downward to hug the wrist and they blend in seamlessly when on the bracelet. The bezel is relatively thin, so the dial appears slightly larger than if it had a wider dive-style bezel. Christopher Ward managed to pull off a nice combination of dimensions with the C65 GMT. I put it on and did not want to take it off; it felt as if it was part of my wrist.
The bracelet on the C65 GMT appears to be nothing novel at first glance. Fitted with an Oyster-style bracelet that tapers from 22mm to 20mm at the clasp, many will find the bracelet comfortable. The links articulate smoothly, don’t pinch and will conform well to your wrist. However, the bracelet on the C65 GMT has a party trick hidden underneath.
If you glance at the side of the clasp you will notice there are no micro-adjustment holes. Micro-adjustments are handled by a mechanism inside the clasp. A small lever inside the clasp you push with your fingernail release a sliding portion of the clasp that extends as you pull on the bracelet. To shorten the bracelet, simply push the bracelet in, which you can do while you are wearing the watch.
The adjustment mechanism Christopher Ward uses here is truly fantastic in the way that it adds no extra bulk to the clasp. Considering you only pay a $70 premium for the bracelet version over a leather strap, this is a bargain. One thing I would have liked to see on the bracelet is screwed links instead of pins. The execution on the rest of the bracelet is done so well that pins don’t do it justice.
One Click GMT
Powered by elabore-grade ETA 2893, the C65 GMT has a solid powerhouse in the case. The Pepsi bezel and blue dial versions of the C65 GMT come with a Sellita SW330. I suspect that the black dial/steel bezel version will have a Sellita SW330 after their current stock of ETA versions run out.
Regardless of the movement, they will operate the same. Both movements are not a true GMT where the GMT hand tracks your home time and the regular hour hand could be set in one-hour increments to your current time zone. Instead, you set the hour and minute hands as you would any other watch: pop the crown out to the second position and set the time. The GMT hand is controlled in the first position. One click out on the crown and you can set the GMT hand and the date. The date is set by spinning the crown toward you and the GMT hand clicks in one-hour increments by spinning it away from you.
I don’t travel between time zones on a regular basis, so I kept the GMT hand set to GMT time. Occasionally, after arriving to work, I would set the GMT hand to a different time zone to simulate getting off a plane in a different location. The lack of a screw down crown enabled me to set the GMT hand while the watch was still being worn.
It took me a few times to remember which way turning the crown set the GMT hand, so I accidently changed the date a couple times. I would often set the GMT hand to time zones in which I have friends. This allowed me to gain some insight into the romanticism of a GMT watch. It was a lot of fun to glance at my watch and immediately know what time it is where a certain friend lives.
Feeling at Home
I have admired the C65 GMT for some time. Christopher Ward packed a lot of value into this watch, finished it beautifully and created something original. Through talking with some of my friends in the watch community, the number 1 critique they had was around the text placement at 9 o’clock. As I discussed before, I believe it is a design choice.
Christopher Ward has been producing watches with clean lines, simple designs with hidden detail and no unnecessary style. The C65 GMT is a perfect example of that. Everything from the case design to the dial layout to the clasp adjustment is all neatly packed in a highly efficient manner. The bottom line is, I fell in love with this watch. GMTs may help soothe your homesickness, but not every GMT can make you feel like you’re at home while you’re wearing it.
|Lug-to-lug Height||47.1mm||Lug Width||22mm|
|Crystal||Box-type Sapphire||Strap||Steel Bracelet|
|Water Resistance||150 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® Old Radium|
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