Review of Christopher Ward’s C63 Sealander Elite
As soon as I put the Sealander Elite on my wrist, my preconceptions about luxury dive watches changed. I had struggled to see their point in the past, thinking watches should be functional, simple to use, reasonably cheap and be good for telling the time. Underwater, my computer did all that I needed for diving. Along came mobile phones and I stopped even wearing a watch topside.
But as soon as I fastened the strap of the elegant Sealander Elite, I got it. There is something immensely satisfying about such a discrete object of well-designed luxury. Ironically, the age of Apple design has tweaked our aesthetic to appreciate the splendour of something so well made; it has opened our eyes to the joys of getting the little things right, and made us appreciate the delights of good design in everyday objects.
The first thing you notice is the weight. On sight, you expect the watch to be heavy – it appears to be solid and substantial – but the slimline titanium case feels gossamer-light on the wrist. The case at 10.7mm tall, and weighing a mere 46g; featherweight compared to the stainless-steel behemoths of the past, and Christopher Ward says it is the lightest mechanical watch the company has ever made. However, unlike many other watches using Grade 2 titanium, here the metal is finished exquisitely; brushed and buffed to perfection, which enhances its sturdy appearance.
The face is matt black, with a traditional luminous hour and minute dial. This is surrounded by an outer ring, slightly set back with orange accents in line with the main hour markers. Then, a tad confusingly, there is a further ring marked in minutes, which I initially thought was a rotating bezel, as this is marketed as a diving watch. However, it is static. Personally, once I got used to the configuration, I didn’t find this a problem. In the age of first-rate dive computers (and the habit of carrying a backup), I don’t expect to use a watch to calculate anything underwater. I’d rather have a good-looking watch that I can take diving (the Sealander Elite is water-resistant to 150m) and wear all the time, than some all-singing, all-dancing, complicated gizmo that doesn’t function as efficiently as the most basic dive computer, and is far harder to set and read.
The innovation introduced with the Sealander Elite is a push-button crown that sits virtually flush with the case. To set or wind the watch, you push on the crown, and it pops out; one further click and you set the date, one more the time. For something on a spindle just over 1mm thick, it feels remarkably robust, and the movement is positive and satisfying. Besides adding to the sleek look of the watch, it means the crown can never dig into your wrist during active sports such as climbing.
The mechanism is a certified Swiss chronometer (a copy of the test document is included in the stylish packaging when you receive your watch). This, with a price range on the Christopher Ward website (you can only buy the company’s watches directly) of £1,150 to £1,380, depending on strap choice, is far less than you would pay for such a package from similar quality brands.
The company was founded in 2004 with a mission, it says, to combine the best of British design with the excellence of Swiss mechanisms, offering quality at an affordable price. It has certainly achieved those aims with the Sealander Elite.
See DIVE’s run-down of the top diving watches.
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