The C60 Sapphire (Blue) landed at my doorstep for review, and I could not have been more excited. Admittedly, this is a watch that I have lusted after for some time and follow all the relevant hashtags on Instagram to regularly see images of it. The C60 launched in April 2020 and represented the continuation of the trend to experiment with unconventional materials for watches. The use of these materials, whether they be sapphire, meteorite, carbon, etc. may be the last frontier of innovation. To update a movement or invent something completely new has such an unbelievably high research and development cost that for most brands, doing so is impossible. Just because the creation of a new movement may be impossible does not mean smaller brands cannot continue to innovate either; the consumer need not look further than Christopher Ward and their line of sapphire-dial watches.
A number of watch brands have experimented with using sapphire for everything from the dial to case to the bracelet; Zenith, Hublot, Audemars Piguet, and even Mercer come to mind. The biggest difference between examples like those and the Christopher Ward is price. The C60 will cost you just over $1,000 USD with this variation (on their Blue Orange Hybrid strap) priced at $1,040 and $1,170 on the bracelet. The color variants are Blue (this model), Black, and Orange. There is something to be said about Christopher Ward’s choice to not overcomplicate things by referring to each color as something over the top like “Oceanic Cerulean” or “Vibrant Titian”, and it’s “Thank you.” I cannot be the only one sick of needing to look up what those colors look like just to realize it’s blue.
On the Wrist
This is my first Christopher Ward watch that I have had the pleasure to see in person and when reading about the brand online you encounter many people discussing the magic that they perform with their self-coined “Light Catcher” case. I was not expecting the case to cause a difficult time making this watch wearable because on paper, the watch reads like it will wear perfectly. The diameter is 40mm, lug-to-lug is 47mm, and thickness is 12.99mm, all of which is the sweet spot for current sizing. In person, however, the watch feels much thicker; in fact, by my measurements (taken with a cheap Amazon caliper), wrist-to-crystal was just shy of 14mm at 13.6mm. “Light Catcher” case enters stage left.
The chamfers of the lugs continue along the edge of the case, both on the top and underneath. These chamfers along with the turning of the lugs downwards cause the watch to wear a lot thinner than I initially imagined. My one complaint on the orange and blue hybrid strap is that the watch tended to feel a little top heavy due to the discrepancy in weight from the strap to the watch head. On a bracelet, I think you would feel a more balanced overall watch.
Although the images of the C60 are stunning, on the wrist the dial and color scheme tend to be slightly more understated. Yes, if you are looking intently at the dial and details, you will notice the see-through sapphire and the mechanism underneath, most notably the date wheel. However, at a quick glance the level of opaqueness conceals what is underneath quite well. By using a less transparent sapphire, the C60 achieves a surprising level of legibility.
The white hands and indices provide phenomenal contrast against the dark blue dial. When you stop to think about this, it is impressive considering if you choose to do so, you can read every single number underneath the dial along with viewing the intricacies of the movement. The text on the dial is limited, providing a nice symmetry to the dial where applied. The logo at 12 can either appear not there at all, or from the right angle have sharp contrast. The logo being a darker shade of blue does seem as though it would benefit from an outline or an accent color but this is not a deal-breaker for me.
The largest gripe about the dial I have are the screws at 3 and 9. One of the difficulties of working with sapphire is how do you attach it as a dial and keep it in place? For the C60, the solution is these four screws. The gripe about the screws is that the color used was black and contrasts highly with the dial, making them much more noticeable than needed. The screws are not flush with the dial and appear to be almost equal in height to the adjacent indices. In photographs they blend in much more than I noticed while wearing. The good news is if you do attempt to photograph something that up-close on a Christopher Ward, you get to see the prominent level of finishing everywhere on the dial.
These are some of the challenges of working with a new material and it is hard to fault a company for trying something new and it not turning out 100% perfect. Luckily, there are far more interesting aspects of the dial to grab your attention than these screws. My personal favorite is the trident second hand with the orange accent color.
I could watch this go around the dial for far too long; that is, if the lights are on. The C60 gets even more interesting once you turn the lights off. I found the Super-LumiNova Grade X1 GL C1 which fills the indices to be extremely legible in the dark and it glowed as brightly as I have seen on a $1,000 diver. The bezel has lume applied at the gradation between 12 and 3 along with a small amount of lume filling each of the markers at 20, 30, 40, 50, and of course the pip. I am not sure if the lume used for the numerals and indices is the same though because there is a difference in color and brightness. All that is truly required, in my opinion, is the lumed pip; all the extra is just an added benefit for the photographer in me.
Rarely do you see a fully lumed bezel that is also steel; my preference is always for a steel bezel due to the ease of photographing and resistance to picking up smudges/fingerprints. When you have a fully lumed ceramic or sapphire insert, it is common to see the lume bleed through the edges of the numerals too. By using a steel bezel and filling the numerals with a lumed paint you circumvent this issue completely.
Case, Bracelet, and Movement
We have already discussed the “Light Catcher” case in some depth so I will refrain from additional details. This C60 came on the Blue Orange Hybrid strap, which is a combination of orange rubber and threaded blue stitching. The rubber has none of that traditional silicone smell that accompanies cheaper rubber straps. I found the strap to be breathable and comfortable on the few chances I had to wear this out on the occasional warm spring day. I am sure this would become a quick favorite as summer starts. I tried the C60 on a few other straps as well and easily would consider this a strap monster for the ease at which other straps look fantastic. My personal favorite was a thin canvas, and I stayed away from NATOs because of the added thickness.
The caseback is also a hued sapphire which allows you to see the movement, but the focal point is more the sapphire crystal. The movement is not decorated and is a “standard” SW200-1 movement. I still enjoy seeing it and interfacing with it though, and the addition of the sapphire caseback really ties together the entire aesthetic.
The last few items I think are worth touching on are the crown and bezel. The crown I found to be simply a joy to operate. The crown is large and easily gripped while remaining recessed enough to limit any annoying digging in to my wrist. The bezel action is superb. I am not sure how well the action would be underwater/with a dive glove on (hopefully one day I can tell you), but my use of it in day-to-day life was great.
All in all the C60 provides an interesting design that really does not have a counterpart within this price range. When you have this watch on your wrist, pretty much any room you walk into, it is the most interesting watch present. Even amongst enthusiast gatherings, this is the watch that people gravitate to and want to get a closer look at. The few small complaints I had with the watch are easily resolved too should Christopher Ward put out an updated version. I would like to see the screws at 3 and 9 be installed with a similar color to the dial so they are less noticeable if removing them entirely is not possible, and if I were to purchase the watch I would definitely splurge the extra $130 on the bracelet to help balance the weight a little more. Aside from that, I am not sure if there is a more provocative diver in the price range; hats off to Christopher Ward for making an awesome watch.
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Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire Specs