Hands-On With The Christopher Ward C65 Aquitaine GMT
The designers behind the new and updated C65 Aquitaine deserve a handshake. It comes in one millimeter smaller, rather than larger. This White Sand version with a curved sapphire bezel that shines for nautical miles is the best model in the entire lineup.
I have been covering Christopher Ward for a few years now. I don’t review everything the brand releases, just watches that I find unique. Two years ago, I was curious to see the unusual C65 Trident with a power reserve complication and the C65 GMT Worldtimer. When it comes to vintage-inspired pieces, I also reached for the C65 “Skipper” Chronograph. Despite all of them sharing the same case style, each piece had a unique character. I liked them all, but never pulled the trigger and never bought one.
The Sapphire C60 was an interesting release with a strong marketing campaign. Not entirely my cup of tea. The Super Compressor was a pretty unexpected move and a fresh addition to Ward’s portfolio. But none of these five watches had enough power to make my debit card move a bit. Well, the C65 Aquitaine seems determined to change that. Let’s dig into it.
Christopher “maturing” Ward
With a bit of over-exaggeration, I could say I am bezel obsessed. A Bakelite tear-drop-shaped vintage bezel would probably sit on the top of my best-bezels list. That also explains why none of the muscular, overly sporty CW bezels ever made me particularly excited. They all seemed too cold and generic, and they lacked depth and grace. At 38 years of age, I don’t feel too old, but CW bezels were too young for me. The C65 Aquitaine changes that. It’s got all I missed and instantly hit my sweet spot. It’s a beauty in pictures, but a dream in real life.
While I kind of liked the Marine Blue and Seagrass Green dials of C65 line, I excluded them immediately when selecting one for review. Too much of that rich color makes the watch a bit heavy and ostentatious, in my opinion, and it ends up killing the bezel completely. On the contrary, the White Sand dial looks perfectly light and lets the bezel shine. No matter if you look at the blue GMT or the green dive bezel, they are equally beautiful. The color tones are truly captivating. If I wanted to be very strict and find anything to question it, I would only point out a close resemblance to the Laventure Transatlantique GMT. Well, but those watches are gone anyway. The C65 Aquitaine is not.
While the Laventure used a Plexiglass insert, the C65 Aquitaine comes with a highly polished sapphire insert. Plexi has a bit of a dim feeling that gives it a vintage touch, but the perfectly clear and curvaceous sapphire edges fit the C65 Aquitaine perfectly. It’s the warm ivory font on the bezel insert that does the magic too. I am surprised how precisely its color tone matches the lume pods on the dial.
The second bezel you want too
I already mentioned that a white dial contrasting with the bezel is the best match for the C65 Aquitaine. If you don’t need an extra timezone and you are completely happy to end up with a time-only watch, opt for the green 60-minute bezel. It’s suited with a fitting Green Vintage Oak leather strap and costs €500 less.
The big lumed “ponds” in the tall applied polished indexes are not only functional but also pretty aesthetic. Perhaps a small but significant detail was the date switch from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock. If done right — and it is done right on C65 Aquitaine — a date at 6 o’clock brings balance, stability, and elegance to the watch.
I really like how the triangular top index, CW logo, “GMT Automatic” printing, and date form a single vertical line down the middle of the dial. All the elements are perfectly tied together. And there’s another little detail worth mentioning. Like Christopher Ward himself, one of the three founding partners who left the company a few years ago, his name also disappears from the dial. Now, it moves quietly to the rotor, which is visible through the sapphire exhibition case back.
Thoughts on the logo
I think that I have never commented on it in the past, although I’ve reviewed up to ten Christopher Ward watches before. Honestly, I never liked the CW twin-flag logo very much. I found it a bit heavy, cumbersome, and chaotic. It always struck me as some technical mark or Braille symbol, and I felt that CW deserved a logo that encapsulated the brand much better. That’s why I preferred to read “Christopher Ward” on the dial and see the twin-flag as a pattern on other parts of the watch. But since the name has disappeared from the dial, I am back to my original thoughts on the logo. For the record, I feel unimportant and small when commenting on a logo. I truly admire what Christopher Ward has achieved. Nevertheless, I’m just being honest. I am really curious how the CW branding evolves over time.
The new Christopher Ward C65 Aquitaine is not a revolution, but an evolution. Thankfully. While the water resistance is up from 150m to 200m, the case has shrunken a bit to 41mm. I don’t have one of the previous cases to compare it side by side, but as I’ve worn multiple CW watches before, I can honestly say I just feel the downsize. And I feel it in a positive way.
Then there’s the Christopher Ward signature case with a narrow side profile and a visible contrast between the brushed and polished lines. It’s different, and it’s nice. I can’t say if I attribute it to the downsizing of the case or the bezel being such a strong attention grabber, but the C65 Aquitaine design fits the case style the most out of all the CW watches I have reviewed. Full stop.
How Dry Marshal made me sweat
The press release and web raves about this thing called “Dry Marshal”, a new safety indicator to remind you to tighten up the watch’s screw-down crown before you take it near the water. That kind of messaging builds a lot of expectations, and I was alarmed. An indicator is something that changes its status, color, or position to state the level of something. Honestly, it made me feel silly that I hadn’t noticed it myself.
As I read the press release after wearing the watch for a week, I embarked on a journey to find the Dry Marshal indicator. Well, do not expect your CW watch to scream or wave its hands at you when you approach the shower. Dry Marshal is a special orange/copper color modification of the tube that the crown sits on. It’s basically a static marker that will help you see if you screwed the crown in properly. That’s it. Enough with the “ingenious English”, as it’s visible from the bottom of the watch only. If I forgot it was communicated like a big deal, I’d just find it another pleasing example of the C65’s evolution.
There are no changes to the crown, which is good. I like the big, flat CW crowns so much. If you want to enjoy the satisfyingly subtle action of the sapphire bezel in only one direction, there is also a bronze COSC diver version alongside the steel automatic three-hander and the steel GMT. It’s such a shame that the COSC version doesn’t come in steel, but it is what it is, and you have to choose. The GMT is powered by the new Sellita SW330-2, which is an alternative to the ETA 2893. As such, it’s not a traveler’s GMT, but an office GMT with an adjustable 24-hour hand.
I don’t like modern thick and heavy bracelets, so that’s why always ask for a leather strap. But this time, the press release indicates some improvements there too. Half-links were introduced last year. Now, the bracelet seems to be more tapered and has screw links too. It might help the wearability a lot, so before you go for the ever-safe leather strap, you might want to try the bracelet instead.
For more information on the C65 Aquitaine GMT, check the spec sheet below. If you’d like to pick one up, visit the Christopher Ward website here. And as always, let us know your thoughts on this watch in the comments below.