Hands-On: The Christopher Ward Dune Collection — Field And Dress Watch Combined
Ah, Christopher Ward — the British brand that Fratello has written more than 15 articles about, highlighting the brand’s unbeatable quality/value ratio. Each article highlighted something good that the brand did, and it seems the team behind it is not about to stop. Each new release seems to be more unique, intriguing, and better specced than the previous one. Either that or it espouses a different type of horological experience — smaller and better cases, new dial layouts, or higher value. In that vein, the latest of the latest from Christopher Ward will please those who are into smaller watches. And a different type of adventure. Indeed, the Dune collection’s major highlight for me is the 38mm case diameter.
Released a few weeks ago, the Dune collection corresponds to the second chapter of the Aquitaine collection. And at the same time, it shares dimensions closer to the C63 Sealander collection released in late 2021. So, at first glance, the Dune collection is the perfect amalgam of what makes Christopher Ward popular. First, a great case design, and second, reasonable proportions. The Dune collection also has the same feeling of robustness as the recently released C60 Trident Pro 300 collection. I have been fortunate enough to review several Christopher Ward collections, and let me tell you, the Dune is quite interesting. So let’s take a look!
The inspiration for the collection
The Aquitaine collection released in 2022 came with a revised (read “better”) case design. Christopher Ward had updated the Lighcatcher case to make it more elegant and robust (I can’t scientifically explain this statement, it’s just a feeling). It also came with a different alternation of finishing that makes it look flatter, having an additional protruding line on the mid-case. This is a plus for humans that have smaller wrists, like me. The Aquitaine collection was inspired by the Aquitaine region in France, where the underwater pioneer Jacques Cousteau came from. Christopher Ward dug deeper into this region’s particularities and came across Les Dunes du Pilat, also known as the tallest mound of sand in Europe.
This inspiration is most visible in the use of colors on all models and dial variants. The hour markers and hands are made with sandy-colored lume that, surprisingly to me, glows blue (I love the contrast). It’s not aged lume or what we often refer to as “fauxtina.” It’s just a yellow/cream-colored compound. In good Christopher Ward fashion, the collection comes with different styles, dial colors, and strap/bracelet options. All in all, there are 25 combinations possible, so it’s most likely that you will find one that will suit your needs. And if not, well, there are hundreds more Christopher Ward models to choose from.
Christopher Ward Dune collection — common characteristics
As mentioned above, the Dune collection stands out from other Christopher Ward collections thanks to the case diameter. All models, whichever you choose, have a case diameter of 38mm, a lug-to-lug distance of 43.6 or 43.7mm, and a thickness of either 11.7mm or 11.9mm. And all models have a lug spacing of 20mm. Thus, the proportions are great for people with small and larger wrists but especially for small-to-medium ones. In comparison, the C63 collection released in 2021 had cases measuring 39mm in diameter, and the new C60 Trident Pro 300 collection comes in 38, 40, and 42mm diameters. This places the Dune Collection on the more reasonable side of things.
All models are equipped with Sellita movements. The Automatic version has an SW200-1, the Bronze a COSC-certified SW200-1, and the GMT an SW330-2. All calibers beat at 28,800vph (4Hz) and have 25 or 26 jewels. The SW200-1, COSC or not, provides 38 hours of power reserve while the SW330-2 provides 56. The lume is X1 Super-LumiNova that glows ice blue, and each model comes with a box-type sapphire crystal. Furthermore, you can either opt for the bracelet that is equipped with quick-release spring bars and a toolless micro-adjust clasp or one of many straps that also come with quick-release spring bars. There are many options to choose from.
Additionally, all models come with a double-sapphire construction, meaning you can see the movements through a piece of sapphire. This is particularly nice on the Automatic and Bronze models as the brand name is printed in silver against a dark background. Admittedly, I’m not the type of person who looks at a case back very often, but it’s a nice touch if you are into this kind of thing. Lastly, as with all the brand’s recent releases, the Dune models do not come with the words “Christopher Ward” on the dial. Instead, the twin-flag logo (an amalgam of the British and Swiss flags) is applied below the index at 12 o’clock. This is another nice touch in my book.
Of the three models, the Automatic is the most conservative. And that is not to say it’s boring, quite the contrary. But it has a more traditional approach to everyday sports watches. We already know its size (38mm in diameter) and what’s inside it (a Sellita movement). This size is perfect for this kind of watch, and Christopher Ward managed to make the best of it. Here, I’m referring to the dial layout and the sunken chapter ring (or the raised dial if you prefer). This subtle effect adds dimensionally that makes the watch interesting to look at. And this effect is the most noticeable when looking at the watch from an angle. Because it’s easy to make a time + date watch look boring.
All Dune models come with the same dial layout as the Aquitaine: a triangle at the 12, trapezoidal markers at the 3 and 9, and circular ones everywhere else. To me, this type of layout is effective at dividing up the dial to make reading time easy. It’s also more interesting to look at than the baton markers on many Christopher Ward models. At 6 o’clock, there is a date aperture that has a trapezoidal shape, echoing that of the markers at 3 and 9. And although I’m the type of person who prefers monochrome contrasts, the sandy-colored lume and black dial have been growing on me.
The GMT is a logical succession to the Automatic. It maintains the same dimensions and comes, as its name indicates, with a GMT complication. The GMT hand is easy to see thanks to having its second half painted in red, which contrasts nicely with the black dial. The indices have the same layout as that of the Automatic. To keep the proportions reasonable, Christopher Ward opted to put the 24-hour scale on the rehaut and to color-code the AM and PM segments. The former is in black, and the latter is in the sandy color that can be found on the markers.
One thing I love about the new Christopher Ward Dune collection is the super-domed sapphire crystal. It adds an air of vintage while maintaining the scratch-resistant properties of sapphire. This is particularly helpful for those who, like me, were born with two left hands (I have to be super careful with review watches!). However, this type of crystal comes with a caveat that bothered me: the crystal angles downward above the rehaut. This means it’s not always easy to read the GMT scale since this portion of the crystal distorts the numerals on the GMT scale.
In other words, you can’t clearly see the entire GMT scale unless you’re looking at the watch straight on. Maybe I’m being a little nit-picky here, but I felt I should mention it.
The COSC Bronze
Finally, we have the Bronze model and its COSC caliber. The latter is pretty neat to have in a bronze watch, and I noticed that Christopher Ward likes to pair COSC movements with bronze cases. The dial layout is the same as the Automatic version, including the sunken chapter ring. The logo is in bronze too (or, at the very least, it has the same color as bronze.) And as is often the case with bronze watches, the case back is made of stainless steel. So is the folding part of the clasp and the toolless micro-adjust mechanism and the screws to add/remove links. Otherwise, everything else is made of bronze.
Am I the only one to be surprised that the Automatic (stainless steel) feels heavier than the bronze model? Actually, the Bronze weighs 10 grams more than the Automatic on my kitchen scale, but the former feels lighter. In any case, although I’ve handled bronze watches before, this one looks a bit like gold to me. It will patina over time, and it would be nice to see how it would have changed. I imagine it looking like a 60-year-old diving helmet used to explore the most mysterious parts of the ocean.
Honestly, I got a little bored of the now-iconic Christopher Ward combination of sword handsets and baton markers. To me, that dial design lacked oomph, so I was excited to discover the Aquitaine collection in 2022. You know, the sword hands and mixed hour markers. And seeing the same design language being used in the Dune collection is up my alley. Plus, there are little details I didn’t mention above that make Christopher Ward Dune stand apart from the other hundred independent brands. These include the color-matched date wheel and the comfortable and well-made bracelet.
Speaking of the bracelet, it is indeed well made. However — there is always a “however” about bracelets — I find the clasp to be too massive. I appreciate that it comes with a toolless micro-adjust mechanism, but it could have been made narrower and thinner. I’ve seen it in the metal with other models, so I know it’s doable. But don’t let this deter you from looking deeper at the Dune collection. I don’t know about you, but I find the design and specs quite attractive, and Christopher Ward always manages to keep prices comparatively reasonable.
And if you don’t care for the bracelet, you can choose from leather or canvas straps. Each model would pair nicely with a NATO.
Prices range from €895 to €1,560, depending on which model and which strap/bracelet you go for. The Bronze COSC model with the bronze bracelet is the most expensive combination, while the Automatic on a strap is the least expensive one. Anyway, that’s too much of my opinion. What do you think of the new Dune collection compared to other Christopher Ward collections? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.