Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review of Christopher Ward C60 Trident Automatic

Model # C60
Brand:  Christopher Ward
Model:  C60 Trident Automatic

Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP  $550 USD

Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I was initially excited to receive this Christopher Ward C60 Trident automatic.  After seeing them online and looking at their designs and believing the hype on their web site, I was sold.  Let me state this right now, the Christopher Ward C60 is a good watch, but not a great watch.  The company is trying to produce a decent piece and overall their customer service is very good, but not perfect.  More on these two items in a bit.  Suffice to say, even though I rate this watch as ‘good’, I am disappointed enough with this watch and my experience with the company to not purchase a Christopher Ward product again.  I will explain fully later in the review.

Christopher Ward is a relatively new (since 2004) and small British company that has their watches manufactured in the Jura region of Switzerland.

The company prides itself on customer service and tries to market their watches as keepsakes to be handed down from generation to generation with exceedingly high quality and strong value.  This is laying it on a little thick.  Judging from the C60 I purchased, this watch is really nothing special and is almost worth the money they charge, but only after they make some QC adjustments.  There are better values around, as in Tissot and Hamiltons of comparable design and price.  Hey, if these small watch companies want to compete in the rough and tumble world of watches, they need to know where they stand in regards to their product and that’s why I do these reviews.

To begin with, the C60 Trident sports a ‘marine grade’ stainless steel case with brushed and polished finish.  The lugs have a somewhat awkward cut to them at the bottom that looks too severe to my eye.  This design doesn’t cause any discomfort while wearing, it just makes the lugs look too stubby.  Case diameter is 43mm without the signed, screwdown crown; 47mm crown inclusive.  Case thickness is 12.6mm, lug spacing is 22mm.  The case flares out a bit to form crown guards that run about one-third the way up the crown, not overly protective, but not obtrusive, either.  The crown does screw down a satisfying three-plus turns to lock.

The caseback is polished and screws down.  The caseback is decorated with a trident logo and has the wording ‘Deus Maris Altum’ which means ‘Deep Sea God’ in Latin.  Okay, this watch is rated at 300 meters of watch resistance, which to me is more ‘Medium Sea God’ instead of ‘deep sea’, but I guess I’m just being difficult.

One of my quality control quibbles pertains to the case, specifically the finishing (or rather, lack thereof) on the inside edges of the lugs and the sloppy, shallow spring bar holes in the lugs.  I realize that many watches lack proper finishing on the inside edges of the lugs and/or between the lugs because often, you can’t see this area, but for a watch that is sold on both a bracelet or strap, the lugs should be finished properly to prevent any unfinished areas from showing when the watch it worn or when it is held and examined. 

If you look closely, you can see the lack of finishing on the insides of the lugs on the C60.  Worse, the spring bar holes are incredibly shallow and sloppy looking.  Luckily, the strap has remained in place without popping off, but I was terribly disappointed in the quality of the spring bar holes, so much so that I let the three principles of the company (Chris Ward, Peter Ellis and Mike France) know about this problem, since they solicit feedback directly on their web site, but alas, I heard nothing back from any of the three.  Disappointing again, especially if you tout customer service and ask for feedback directly.  Note to Mr. Christopher Ward, respond directly to your customer’s complaints or stop asking for their feedback!

The dial on the C60 was one of the elements that initially attracted me to this model.  It is a black wave-pattern dial somewhat reminiscent of the older Omega Seamaster wave dials.  The dial has round applied markers, a double rectangular marker at the 12 position and single rectangular markers at the 3, 6 and 9 positions. 

All the markers are filled with white lume, as are the hour and minute hands.  The seconds hand is a simple stick style with a red tip (no lume) and a cool trident fork on the tail end.  There are also small lume dots on the outer edge of the applied markers that are set in a printed chapter ring with minute and smaller hash marks.  These lume dots tend to glow brighter than the larger markers.  Lume is SuperLuminova and the quality is good, being the in-vogue blue color, while the lume pip on the bezel glows the standard green.

The hands are semi-skeleton (semi because they are only skeletonized for a small portion of their overall length).  The handset is rather unique and does look good.

The wording ‘Chr. Ward’ and ‘London’ appear below the 12 position, while ‘Trident-Pro’, ‘300m/1000 ft’ and ‘automatic’ appear above the 6 position.

A quickset date window is located at about the 4:30 position on the dial.  The window is surrounded by a silver frame and the date wheel is black on white.  Alignment within the window is good. 

Many WISes I have talked to find the location of the date window on the C60 to be off-putting and not in keeping with the overall clean lines of the watch.  It does look a bit odd being at 4:30 as opposed to even just the 4 position.

The dial is capped by a flat 4mm anti-reflective sapphire crystal that protrudes slightly above the bezel.  The bezel is a 120-click unidirectional type that rotates easily and has a moderate about of backlash.  The first 15 minutes are marked off with printed markers, while the remainder has standard arabics every 10 minutes with a larger marker between the arabics at the five minute marks.  Overall bezel action on my C60 is acceptable, but I have heard from another WIS that the bezel action on his brand-new C60 was not acceptable to him (too much free play and bad alignment), so again, QC issues are rearing their ugly head.

The C60 Trident is available in a couple of dial colors and a variety of bezel colors and the other reason I purchased this watch was because of the khaki (olive greenish) colored bezel.  It is a nice color that you don’t see on very many other watches.

Inside the C60 is a Swiss automatic movement, either an ETA 2824-2 or a Sellita SW200-1.  Again, I have a problem with this.  The Sellita is a fine movement and some of the Sellitas I own perform better than the comparable ETA, but the Sellita is basically a copy of the ETA and is NOT an ETA.  The way they describe it on their web site, they make it sound like the movements are the same but they are not.  Come on, Christopher Ward, have transparency here and let us know exactly what movement is in the C60 each of us buys.

Since the watch has no display back, I don’t know what is inside my C60.  It’s like buying a General Motors car when they started using engines from all their divisions and you never knew if your Chevy had a Chevy engine, a Buick engine or a Pontiac engine in it.

I suspect my C60 has the Sellita in it, that’s my guess.  The movement winds and sets fine and has performed without any problems, running at -4/24 hours with an expected power reserve of 41.5 hours.

I originally ordered my C60 Trident on the stainless steel bracelet, but upon receiving the watch and attempting to size the bracelet, my enthusiasm for Christopher Ward pretty much went out the window.  The bracelet utilizes those irritating and insufferable pins and collars and the bracelet that was on my watch had the tightest pins and collars I have ever encountered on the hundreds of watches I have sized.  I could only successfully remove one pin and move about one-quarter of another before I gave up in utter frustration.

I contacted Christopher Ward’s (‘CW’ for short) customer service, explained my problem and they did get back to me promptly and didn’t give me any guff about the situation, so I did appreciate that, but they also did not address the problem, other than accepting the bracelet back for a refund and exchanging it for one of their leather straps. 

So I sent the bracelet back to them, they refunded the extra cost of the bracelet ($85 USD) and sent me the leather strap I selected (or so I thought).  When my new strap arrived, it was not the model I ordered; it was a pilot style with rivets and a deployant clasp (I wanted a standard strap with a standard pin buckle). 

They did refund the cost of my initial return shipping on the bracelet which I applaud them on, but I was not about to go through this song and dance again to return the mistakenly shipped strap for the one I really wanted.  I put the CW strap on a different watch and installed the aftermarket 22mm oily dark brown leather strap that is shown in the pictures.

To CW’s credit, the quality of the leather strap I received was very good and the strap itself looks nice and wears decently, although I am still not a fan of deployant clasps on straps, especially butterfly style deployants.

After this experience, I came away with more thoughts on the company.  First, if you are to compete in the United States, you have to have a U.S.-based customer service and repair center to accommodate people like me that don’t want to wait two-weeks to mail stuff back to England and then receive replacements from England, not to mention the costs involved in doing so.  I don’t think I’m out of line here. 

Secondly, while overall, CW’s customer service was responsive, they shipped me the wrong item.  We all make mistakes, but after the lousy QC on the bracelet, the sloppy spring bar holes and the lack of inside lug finishing on the case, I decided to wipe my hands clean of this experience and sell my C60 for a substantial loss.  I was past their generous 60-day return policy (which in hindsight I should have used and just returned the entire watch to them for a refund) but we all live and learn, I suppose.

The bracelet was a solid link stainless steel three-link design with a signed clasp and machined deployant, but it had a somewhat cheapish feel to it.  The same WIS friend that had the bezel issues with his C60 also had bracelet problems with overly tight pins and collars and an ill-fitting spring bar/bracelet end link and a rattle-prone clasp.  So I am not alone here.  And just so you know, this bracelet represents the second, improved design for the C60.  Hmmm.

Presentation consists of a large pale yellow two-piece outer box with a black padded inner box.  It looks fine, but they also offer a deluxe box for an extra cost.  The standard box is perfectly suitable.

I did my best to be friends with the C60 and there are elements of the watch that I do like, but the combination of not knowing exactly what movement is inside, the QC issues (which I feel are not that trivial), the customer service snafu and the lack of response from Mr. Ward himself all have conspired to leave me with a negative overall view of this watch and the company.  Sorry, gents, that’s the way I see it. 

Pros:  nice wave dial, unique handset, great bezel color, cool trident on end of seconds hand
Cons:  niggling QC issues, cheapish bracelet, some design elements don’t jive, ponderous customer service, what is the movement?
Verdict:  while CW is trying their best, it’s not good enough.  My experience with a Christopher Ward watch was less than perfect.  IMHO, there are better values out there for your hard-earned dollar at this price point.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

1 comment:

  1. I was briefly interested in this watch myself (albeit with the orange bezel), but the weird date location turned me off. It kind of looks like they tried to put it at 4 o'clock, but missed. I guess they're using an off-the-shelf movement where the date only aligns with a window at one of 31 locations around the dial, and the one they chose is closest to 4 o'clock. So, I don't think it's even at 4:30, but rather at about 4:04.