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Christopher Ward C65 Cranwell Series 2

A contemporary pilot watch with a COSC certification

Military watches are nothing new, and they encapsulate some of the most iconic watches, and some have devoted their entire collection to military watches. While most of these watches are out of production, there are still watch brands that produce watches for military use. Christopher Ward is one such brand, and His Majesty’s Armed Forces officially approve their 3 watch military lineup. 

The C65 Cranwell Series 2 is the aviation silo of this lineup and is designed for use by the Royal Air Force. As the name suggests, this is the second iteration of the Cranwell. However, I never had my hands on the Series 1, so we will look at this watch together for the first time. Let’s jump in.

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On the Wrist

I can’t think of a brand where every time they release a watch, I don’t have to guess how it will fit my wrist. Christopher Ward’s consistency in design and proportions make it easy to figure out if the watch will work well on the wrist. The Cranwell Series 2 is no exception. The C65 case has always been one of my favorite iterations of the lightcatcher case. It is thin, svelte on the wrist, and just looks damn good. 

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The Cranwell Series 2 comes in at 38mm wide, 43.7mm lug-to-lug, and 11.9mm thick (10mm wrist-to-crystal). Nothing is mind-blowing about these dimensions, but I applaud Chris Ward for using a shorter lug-to-lug. There are plenty of 38mm military-inspired watches with a long lug-to-lug that make the watch wear way larger than it needs to *cough* Hamilton Khaki Field *cough* The unexpected benefit of the shorter lug-to-lug is that you get to see a little more of the bracelet on the top of your wrist. 

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As the pilot watch of the military lineup from Christopher Ward, one might expect this to be the largest of the bunch. The Cranwell and the Sandhurst are the smallest in the lineup by 3mm. I like that Christopher Ward took a contemporary approach to the pilot watch and didn’t make this 45mm. IWC pilot watches are neat and all, but last time I was at the eye doctor, they didn’t tell me I needed a watch that large to read the time. Christopher Ward worked in other elements from classic pilot watches, like a large crown, to bring the soul of vintage pilot watches into the Cranwell. This is the way. 

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Christopher Ward C65 Cranwell Series 2 Specs

Case Width

38mm

Lug-to-Lug

43.7mm

Case Thickness

11.9mm

Lug Width

20mm

Wrist-to-Crystal

10mm

Weight

159g

Water Resistance

150m

Strap

Bracelet

Crystal

Sapphire

Lume

Super-LumiNova X1

Movement

Sellita SW200 COSC

Price

$1,280

Dial Details

Even though the dial is on the smaller side for a pilot watch, it is 100% aviation-inspired and makes good use of the smaller footprint. The numeral layout is classic Flieger Type A with 1 through 11 Arabic numerals and a triangle with two dots at the 12 o’clock position. A ring is on the inside of the numerals with small hash marks that help with legibility. 

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The hour and minute hand combo is the one that Chris Ward has been using since the refresh of the Trident series a few years back. I love this handset on their other watches, but the hour hand works even better on this watch as it looks like a modern version of a classic pilot handset. The hands are all outlined in white, so they contrast against the matte black dial. The handset and numerals are coated in Super-LumiNova Grade X1 lume, so you will have no problems reading the time at night in your SR-72. You can be my wingman anytime, Maverick. 

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I’ve been a longtime hater of aged lume. I’m of the opinion that watches never came new with tan lume. That is something that happens over time. I’ve softened my stance on this, and I try to see it as a design choice instead of adding fauxtina, especially if that is not the intention. I like the inclusion of it on the Cranwell, as it helps break up the watch’s monochrome look. It certainly doesn’t add that pop of color we all talk about, but it does add additional visual interest. It helps that it isn’t all over the place either; Christopher Ward kept the tan accents to a minimum, and it is only noticeable on the hands and the triangle at 12 o’clock.

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Case & Bracelet

I don’t know what else I can say about the lightcatcher case that I haven’t said in my other Chris Ward reviews. The lightcatcher series has consistently been one of the best case designs in recent history, and I don’t think Christopher Ward gets enough credit for it. It looks great on any watch, and the cut-ins and finishing changes make the case look thinner than it is. 

The Cranwell utilizes the case design perfectly to create a contemporary pilot watch without overdoing the flair. The case complements the minimalist design of the dial and keeps the watch from becoming too utilitarian. 

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The Cranwell features a large crown that is easy to use and feels fantastic to wind. Chris Ward opted to use a more standard crown shape, as opposed to the onion crown we see on a lot of Fliegers, and I’m glad they did. An onion crown would have looked out of place on this watch, and the dial could support it, but the case needs a crown with less decoration. 

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Something to note with the Cranwell, and the rest of the military series from Chris Ward, is that it is a chronometer-certified watch. It is likely that this was required to gain the seal of approval from His Majesty’s Armed Forces. Even though this carries a slight premium over similar watches from Chris Ward, it is still one of the most affordable chronometer-certified watches available. 

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Christopher Ward has finally listened to the masses and changed their bracelet design. It isn’t perfect yet, but it is a lot better. They have had a 20mm no-taper bracelet for years, adding unnecessary bulk to the watch. The bracelet now tapers to 16.5mm and feels much more balanced on the wrist. I’d like to see Christopher Ward switch to female endlinks, but I’ll take what I can get.

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The quick-adjust system in the clasp has been modified, too, and although it seems to work mostly the same, some will be disappointed to find out that you cannot close down the quick-adjust while it is being worn (this was possible on the previous clasp). The watch must be unlatched to adjust it either way. This change also led to a longer clasp, but it is still comfortable even with the additional length. 

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Final Thoughts

Military watches are interesting to me. I served in the United States Army and wore a 34mm plastic Timex (not issued to me) for my time in the service. I’ve never had an interest in military watches beyond that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t find them exciting. 

I love seeing what brands come up with to harken back to field watches from the 60s and 70s or Flieger watches from World War II. The Cranwell is a perfect take on the latter, and Christopher Ward didn’t overdo it trying to recreate some other watch. If you’re looking for a modern pilot watch that isn’t a puck on your wrist and like the fact that this has a chronometer certification, this may be the perfect watch for you. 

Check out more Christopher Ward reviews at The Watch Clicker here

Check out the Christopher Ward website here

More Images of the Christopher Ward Cranwell Series 2

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  1. I think you are spot on about this watch. Over the years, I’ve owned several other pilot watches but there are design elements here that are done so much better. My only conflict here is adding yet another Christopher Ward watch to my collection. I was supposed to be downsizing! But I think I might have to add the Cranwell to my C63 Selander Elite and C65 Dartmouth, Series 1.

  2. Like all Christopher Ward watches the design is superb and the quality no doubt follows through. The problem with owning one of his pieces is that you always want to own another one.

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