I feel like I’ve written or said this statement several times over the last few months, but it has yet to lose its relevance: Christopher Ward is on a roll. Now, it seems, I should add, “with no end in sight.” Just last week Blake Buettner went hands-on with their first launch of the year, and a big one at that, the C1 Worldglow. Well, unbeknownst to many, at the same time Christopher Ward dropped a follow-up to last year’s C60 Sapphire, which I had the pleasure of reviewing last April. A massive success for the brand, it was only logical they would extend the line into a new, albeit obvious color, black.
As a quick refresher, the C60 Sapphire is part of the brand’s modern diver catalog. Featuring their exceptionally finished Light Catcher case in a highly wearable 40mm size, it’s easy to forget that it also boasts a 600m water-resistant rating. Keeping the time is then a reliable Swiss-made Sellita SW-200. So far so good, especially considering the sub-$ 1,000 price tag on a strap. But, what sets the C60 Sapphire apart is – spoiler in the name – its use of sapphire for a dial.
A finicky and expensive material, it is not often used for dials as the manufacturing process can be costly. Through the manufacturing of their C1 Moonglow, Christopher Ward’s manufacturing partners honed this skill, making it a flex for the value-minded brand. The result is decidedly modern with a unique machine-like feel. Through the perfectly transparent material, the top-side of the movement is visible, serving as a live backdrop to dial elements that seemingly float above.
The first C60 Sapphire was a very blue affair, with both the dial and case back rendered in a brilliant cool tone. While it’s hard to complain about a blue-dialed-diver, for those who prefer to be more understated, it was perhaps a touch too much. So, as a logical extension, we now have a black version – though black is not quite the right word to use. Smoked would be more apt, as the dial is now an appealing shade of, well, shade. It’s a tint of gray that reads as colorless, and while darker than clear, almost tricks the mind at times to feel as though there is nothing there at all. The case back crystal has the same smokey treatment.
An interesting fact about this dial is that, unlike the blue version which featured a layer of polycarbonate to achieve its color, the black is created through vapor deposition. While a technical difference only, I do recall some people being slightly disappointed that the sapphire of the blue version wasn’t actually blue. I couldn’t have cared less, but that shouldn’t be a concern with the black version.
While the dial color is the biggest change, the orange accents have been swapped for red, which suits it well. The bezel, which was one of my favorite aspects of the previous model, remains largely the same, with a complex steel insert with various finishes. The triangle at 12 has been filled in with red, no complaints there, and the paint-filled arc from 0 – 15 has changed from blue to pale gray.
On the wrist, one word really comes to mind: clean. The watch feels technical, precise, and sharp. It’s a mechanical watch that embraces being mechanical. Nothing feels warm or natural like it wants to pretend to be more human than it really is. After all, it’s an assembly of metal and glass that tells time through the motion of gears and the release of energy stored in springs. And it looks damn good as such. In this way, it’s very honest, and refreshing. This watch is the antidote to faux-patina.
Available on a “hybrid” strap for $ 910 or a brushed steel bracelet for $ 1,030, the Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire Black is yet another great option from the prolific brand. While vintage aesthetics still reign supreme, having boldly modern yet affordable options like this are all the more important. But, should a 600m diver with a smoked sapphire crystal dial not be exotic enough for you, it’s worth noting that late last year CWard also sneakily released the SH21 Abyss, a 42mm, 300m diver with a gunmetal case, matte black bezel, and blacked-out details on a smoked sapphire dial, but also with the brand’s in-house 5-day chronometer automatic movement. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. Christopher Ward