May 4, 2010
by Ariel Adams
Let me first say that I didn’t expect to like this watch as much as I do. What won me over in the end was its incredible happiness to be a wrist companion. Always being easy to read, nice to touch, and comfortable to wear. My first reaction to the C600 line of diver watches from Christopher Ward (a UK based watch brand that specializes in selling its products direct online) was “well that is interesting.” A sort of luke warm reaction that meant I recognized that the watch collection was different, but didn’t give me that intense “tell me more!” sensation. The moderately sized watches in black came with a trio of dial choices and sat at the top of the Christopher Ward dive watch range.
Christopher Ward got one of the C600 Tri-Tech Elite Diver watches to me and my tone changed after testing it out. This is really a classic diver watch with some interesting design cues that are actually more function oriented that style oriented. It reminds me of certain military vehicles that look a bit odd at first, until you appreciate why they look that way. Take for instance those planes with the large “mushroom” radars coming out of them. Or perhaps the A-10 “Warthog” Tank Killer plane. The ubiquitous air to ground offensive plane is a deadly force to be reckoned with but didn’t get that “warthog” name from look like a bouquet of flowers.
I don’t intend to suggest the C600 is unattractive – far from it. But rather that its largely utility minded. Its composition and features are meant to suggest that it is capable of hard duty. The hands are almost whimsically large, and you don’t often get that combination of lime green and black on a serious watch. Though the color differences are there for contrast, and you never (ever) lose sight of the hands when trying to read the watch.
At 43mm wide and not too thick at 13mm wide, the watch isn’t small, but is certainly smaller than the biggy divers that we are all familiar with as of late. For me, the watch is a perfect mix of being large enough, but not being at all unwieldy. The steel case here is PVD black coated. You can tell that most of the case was brushed underneath the coating. There are more-or-less no sharp edges on the case at all. Running your finger over it is actually pleasing. Because the smooth texture of the coating combined with the many surfaces of the watch allow you to know exactly what you are touching without even looking. Which brings me to the rotating diver’s bezel. At first I though it looked too rounded. Not sharp and precision cut like many of the much more expensive dive watches out there. The second you touch and use the bezel, you understand the concept. The bezel is not only easy to grip and read (even though it all black), but it does not cut into your fingers. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Dive watches for example have beautiful looking bezels, but some of them are so sharply milled that you could actually cut yourself on them if you were too aggressive or scratched up against them harshly. The C600 though has a very pleasing to touch and use rotating bezel. It might look a bit funny, but it works real well.
A serious diver, the watch is water resistant to 500 meters (what 50 ATM translates into). As such, Christopher Ward equipped it with a helium release (escape) valve. Not something you use very often, but a nice additional feature. I must admit that the feature is often mostly cosmetic, because that diagonally placed crown on the upper left of the case just always looks cool. It does have a use of course, but in the case of helium release valves, its utility is often outweighed by its style and ability to add “cred” to a watch. The watch crown is smooth to the touch (but grippy enough) just like the bezel. It screws down and has a guard built around it from the case to protect it. The 4.5mm thick sapphire crystal over the dial is domed a bit. This is often the case with watches that have a higher water resistance. Doming can often create visual distortion when viewing the dial from an angle. That, combined with glare from reflected light can make dials hard to read. The C600 has AR coating on the inside of the dial which helps to reduce glare. The easy to read dial and large hands are easy to read even with some mild crystal lens distortion.
The watch dial is just a little bit glossy – but not much. In addition to the black dial with green, the C600 Tri-Tech Elite Diver watch comes in a yellow dial with black hands and hour indicators, as well as a metallic blue dial with black hands and indicators. This version, as well as the yellow dial are the easiest to to read. The “Tri-Tech” part of the watch names comes from the three important technologies that Christopher Ward feels you should know about in the watch. I have already mentioned the PVD coating, and the helium release valve, but the watch also features tritium micro gas tubes as luminant. According to Christopher Ward, this watch is the first time these three things have been coming.
Tritium gas tubes are pretty much always welcomed by me. The little gas tubes with a safe amount of radiation naturally glow without the need to be charged by light. The half-life of the compound inside the tubes will glow for about 20-25 years before eventually fading out. If you still are wearing the watch that long, can probably just get the tubes replaced. Christopher Ward uses mostly blue colored tubes in the watch that mimic the now common use of blue SuperLumiNova in high-end diver watches (for example as currently used by Rolex). Green is actually a bit better for reading, but people are sick of green lume, so blue helps mix it up a bit. The inner sections of the hands do glow green though. There is a dot of green luminant on the rotating bezel as well. Reading the watch in the dark is easy. While the indicator and hands look thin in the dark, there should be no trouble reading the time – and they look pretty nice as well. It is also nice how the C600 still has a tube near the date indicator window, as many other watches basically skip this spot for lume as it is taken up by the date.
In addition to the green hour markers and hands, there is some green aluminum on the helium release valve that is meant to add some style. I still don’t think the watch is meant to be a fashion timepiece, but that isn’t its point. It is a happy, and stalwart tool that adds enough flair to never be boring. Christopher Ward put a Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement inside the watch. This is basically a Swiss made clone of the ETA 2824. Attached to the watch is a pretty basic rubber diving strap with that standard “wave” pattern near the lugs for added flex and comfort. The strap is very comfortable. It is a bit tough to get the excess strap in the loops, but many rubber straps are. I had no problems with the strap, but those who want to “dress” up their C600 might want to experiment with other straps that add a bit more flair to the design.
As a tool watch it is hard to beat the C600 Tri-Tech Elite Diver. It has a lot of desirable feature, quality construction, and a durable build. While quirky in design, there isn’t much to complain about. Christopher Ward offers a nice little selection of color combos that are hard to find otherwise. In a suit, the watch might not give you a formal look, but in the right active outfit, the watch will be a perfect companion. Thus, for divers, outdoorsy types, military types, or other types of weekend warriors, the C600 is a great piece to have around. It isn’t the last watch you’ll ever want to own, but you won’t want to give it away once you have one. As always from Christopher Ward, price is good for what you get. It retails for 399 British Pounds, which is about $615. Learn more or get a Christopher Ward C600 Tri-Tech Elite Diver watch here.
Thanks to Christopher Ward for the review unit. Opinions are 100% independent.