Military-issued watches have a cult following within the larger watch-collecting community. A certain reverence is given to these watches, especially if they can be proven to have been worn in the field by service personnel. Even without field action, military-issued watches are still highly collectible and have helped fuel the recent resurgence of modern interpretations of these watches.
Christopher Ward launched their military collection late last year and the collection includes 3 watches, each pertaining to a department of the UK Ministry of Defense. These watches are officially licensed by the UK MOD so they do carry that extra prominence of being sanctioned by a government body.
Today I will be looking at the C65 Dartmouth, which Christopher Ward designates as the model for the Royal Navy. Heavily inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 Big Triangle, the C65 Dartmouth has its roots properly seated. The Seamaster 300 was issued to the Royal Navy in the 1970s and has become one of the most collectable Omegas outside of the Speedmaster.
On the Wrist
Of all the Christopher Ward watches I’ve reviewed and tried on, the C65 Dartmouth is easily the most comfortable, even more so than the 38mm Trident I reviewed last year. With that said, this is also one of the most comfortable watches I’ve worn, period. Whoever is behind case design at Christopher Ward was on top of their game when they designed the case for the C65 Dartmouth.
As I’m sure most people who wear watches experience, my must-haves for a watch that is comfortable have been evolving. The C65 Dartmouth checks quite a few of those boxes. The thin case, only 11.5mm including the crystal, combined with the curvature of the lugs, helps the watch feel molded to the wrist as opposed to a puck sitting on top of it. Couple this with Christopher Ward’s excellent bracelet design and you’ve got the trifecta.
The C65 Dartmouth is also a cool watch to look at. There are watches that make you want to check the time for the sake of just looking at the dial. Often with these watches, you find yourself realizing you didn’t even read the time. This one is one of those watches. The dial is busy, mainly due to the inspiration from the Seamaster Big Triangle. The long hash marks and exaggerated triangle at 12 o’clock contribute to this busyness but they come together well and ooze cool.
Despite the busy dial, the C65 Dartmouth is extremely readable. There is plenty of contrast between the deep blue dial and the hands and markers to enable quickly reading the time. Thankfully, the dial text is kept to a minimum. If more text had been included, the legibility may have degraded
I mentioned before that the C65 Dartmouth was inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 Big Triangle. There are plenty of homages to it that copy the design to a T. The C65 Dartmouth isn’t one of those. The dial is presented in a way that feels like a modern reimagining of that watch, rather than a repeat.
The most obvious change is the lack of numerals at 3, 6, and 9. Christopher Ward opted to keep the big triangle at 12 o’clock but made the rest of the markers tapered rectangles, which slightly resembles those on the Omega. The markers are all applied, generously lume-filled, and pop off the blue dial brilliantly.
The white hash marks designating each minute between the applied markers are clean and crisp. They coordinate beautifully with the white seconds hand tipped with an arrow.
With the same hour hand as the Trident V3, the C65 Dartmouth’s handset is recognizable quickly. The minute hand differs from the Trident series slightly. It is rounded at the end, rather than pointed. I was a fan of the handset from the Trident and I feel the difference in hand shape makes the time easily readable. There is no confusion about which hand is which.
What is sure to be a crowd-pleaser is the place of the Christopher Ward name on the dial. It has been moved from 9 o’clock on many of their recent releases to the more standard 12 o’clock. Combined with Automatic, Chronometer, and Swiss Made, it creates a perfectly symmetrical dial.
While we’re on the subject, you read that correctly. The C65 Dartmouth is a chronometer-certified watch. The Sellita SW-200 has been tuned to COSC standards and you will receive a chronometer certificate with your watch.
The bezel on the C65 Dartmouth carries over some inspiration from the Seamaster. The bezel has numbers marking every 10 minutes with hash marks between for each minute. A lumed triangle is at 12 o’clock. The bezel has been slimmed down from the Seamaster’s and is also dark blue. It is aluminum which helps bring some vintage vibes to the watch.
Case & Bracelet
The C65 Dartmouth uses Christopher Ward’s light-catcher case series. The brand uses this for most of their dive watches and it has quickly become one of my favorite cases for modern watches. There are multiple cuts and angles made into the side of the case and with the mix of brushing and polishing, they create a beautiful case. The case lives up to its name and plays with the light in a variety of ways.
At 41mm wide, 11.5mm thick, and 47.1mm lug-to-lug, the C65 Dartmouth is an all-around great size. The proportions work extremely well together and because of the slope of the lugs, the watch wears smaller than its diameter would suggest. I found the C65 Dartmouth to be a better-fitting and more comfortable watch than the 38mm Trident V3.
A large crown adorns the case at 3 o’clock. The crown is nearly the height of the entire case and bezel minus the crystal. This makes it extremely easy to operate and winding is effortless. This is one of the smoothest-winding Sellita SW-200s I’ve used. The crown also has a small blue inlay around the twin flag emblem, another nice complement to the blue dial.
However, the crown does not screw down. I found this to be an odd choice considering the designation for use with the Royal Navy, but Christopher Ward still claims 150 meters of water resistance, which should be plenty for most users. With that said, I still would have liked to see a screw-down crown.
The SW-200 has also been modified to be a true no-date movement. When popping out the crown, there is only one position to set the time.
Christopher Ward is putting out some of the best bracelets in terms of comfort and innovation. The bracelet on the C65 Dartmouth includes the same toolless, quick-change mechanism as the Trident V3, as well as the quick-adjust ratchet in the clasp. I covered them extensively in my Trident review, but the short story is you don’t need any tools to take the bracelet on or off or adjust the micro-adjustments in the clasp. It is a fantastic set of features that I would like to see make its way to other brands.
It’s very difficult to argue the value proposition when it comes to the C65 Dartmouth. A chronometer- certified watch sanctioned by the UK Ministry of Defense, a great-looking dial, and innovative bracelet all for around $1,000. It’s hard to beat when it comes to reliable, automatic watches.
I have a few quibbles with the C65 Dartmouth, mainly the lack of a screw-down crown, but I know that if I were buying this watch, the 150 meters of water resistance would be enough for me.
The Omega Seamaster 300 Big Triangle is one of my favorite vintage watches and I know I will never own one. Price aside, I’d be too nervous to wear it anyway. Christopher Ward’s C65 Dartmouth does a great job of drawing inspiration from it and adding some touches that make it modern and a watch you can wear daily.
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Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth Specs