Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

Review and photos by Mike Razak

If you aren’t tuned into what Christopher Ward has been doing over the past, let’s say, 5 years, you haven’t been paying attention. If you haven’t noticed their prodigious rise from London-based watch industry chorus member to global soloist, you need to recalibrate your viewfinder. And if you haven’t acknowledged that the brand is putting out some truly phenomenal pieces, at truly phenomenal prices, then it’s time to start getting wise. While Christopher Ward has gone through some growing pains—they started with a lot of very mediocre designs and faced a bit of a backlash for later logo changes—they’ve matured into a company that is offering timepieces for those who love timepieces (in-house movements, chronometers and single-pusher chronographs among them), priced for those who want to start loving timepieces. The C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition (hereafter “Trident LE”) features the brand’s in-house 5-day power reserve movement and is just another example of great watchmaking being delivered by our friends on the other side of the pond.

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

The case of the Trident LE is something like perfect. 41mm. 47.1mm lug-to-lug. And a deceiving 13.4mm thick. That thickness is unnoticeable. I’ve worn 13mm watches that sit on the wrist like rocks. This is no wrist rock. The curves and facets of the case allow this watch to wear more like 12mm or thinner (in that respect, it wore similarly to my Mido Ocean Star, which is 11.75mm). With hardly a flat surface in sight, the case features brushed and polished finishes, most notably, the two polished chamfers that extend the length of the case along its side. Between them is the case side proper, which features a brushed finish. The rest of the watch is similarly brushed. The 22mm lugs end in an angle oblique to the case, a feature that is both visually pleasing and makes for greater comfort (as the lugs will never dig into your wrist). 

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

A slim coin-edged bezel with great action rests upon the case, featuring a matte (almost metallic) blue aluminum insert. The insert matches perfectly to the dial and features no graduation, instead having hashes at every minute and numerals every 5; at 12 o’clock is a lumed pip for orientation (but not orienteering).  The coin edge is replicated in the right-sized crown at 3 o’clock, which features the CW twin flags logo. The crown is just push-pull, not screw-down, which may upset some people, but to them, I’d say “Be quiet.” The watch is water resistance to 150 meters—again, be quiet—which is more than adequate for all but your most adventurous tasks (that’s what the C60 Trident is for). I had this watch on through bath time (for my son), pouring rain, light rain, dishwashing, cold temperatures, hot temperatures—all the normal rigmarole of a life lived, if not very daringly. And it performed without issue. Push-pull crowns are great, and 150M water resistance is just fine. And this watch case is just splendid. CW calls it the “light catcher” case, and with good reason, all those different surfaces do light up. The design checks all the right boxes for me: great finishing, contrast, fluid lines, completely functional, wears slim. I wasn’t even put off by the 22mm lugs!

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

Through a box sapphire crystal, a brilliant blue dial is presented with reserved simplicity. The proportions, layout, and vibrancy are balanced and elegant, providing a fitting face to a refined case. The most prominent features are the subdials at 6 and 9 for the running seconds and power reserve, respectively. They are recessed and feature what CW refers to as “circular azzure” finishing, which means blue circles. (I assume the extra ‘z’ adds zing). The power reserve subdial features markings up to 5 days, with the bottom of the tank, as it were, shown in red. Watching it go around when you hand wind the watch is more fun than it has any right to be. The place where the dials overlap is done well. Something about the recess and maintain the division between the two while allowing them to flow into each other…I can’t place it but to say I love it. I joked with a friend recently that I didn’t see the point of a power reserve indicator on A) an automatic watch, and B) a watch that has a reserve of 5 days. And given the lack of other major, reserve-dependent complications (like a perpetual calendar), one needn’t know how much power is left, really. On balance, though, it’s pretty, and I like it so it can stay. 

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

The hands and indices are all baton-style, with Old Radium Super-LumiNova, which shines brightly enough, though it could be a bit better. The oft-maligned-for-no-good-reason Christopher Ward logo returns to 12 o’clock for this dial, with text at 3 letting you know the watch will never die and can be safely submerged in your fish tank. Staying at 3 o’clock, we find a trapezoidal date window. The black date wheel with white numerals is a disruptive smudge to an otherwise photogenic dial. A color-matched wheel with old radium-colored numerals might have really sealed the deal here. Even maintaining the white numerals could have worked, given the white dial text. It’s a missed opportunity, but not one that ruins the dial or the watch.

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

Giving the watch the old fliparoo, we encounter a screw-down caseback with a shiny trident in heavy, polished relief, surrounded by the brand name and the actual word "trident" (a bit of a belt and braces approach, though perhaps the relief isn’t sufficient for some). Some standard SpecsText™ is engraved on the periphery, including the limited edition serial out of 150 made. 

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition
Under the caseback, though, is where the real magic happens. The SH21 in the model name is Christopher Ward’s entirely in-house movement. To make a not very long story quite short indeed: In response to the Swatch Group restricting sales of ETA movements to its own brands, CW merged with Synergies Horlog√®res, their main supplier, and developed and released an in-house movement to serve as a starting point for self-sufficiency. The movement as presented in the Trident LE is an automatic COSC-certified chronometer (-4/+6 seconds per day) that boasts 33 jewels, 28,800 bph, hacking, manual-winding, and twin mainspring barrels for a 120-hour power reserve. This is the Sir Ian Botham of watch movements (in deference to the brand being British, I googled “Best Cricket Player Ever”).

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

Let’s starting winding down (ha!) by talking about the bracelet. While the watch is available on black leather, brown leather, or Cordura with rubber backing, the review piece came with the well-built steel bracelet. Fully polished and solid as a rock, the bracelet features a branded folding clasp, with a side-pusher release. I had no issues and found it to be secure every time I wore it. It also features a ratcheting system for fine-tuning. Sizing the bracelet initially, however, is a substantial if short-lived pain (think stubbing your toe 15 times in a few minutes), on account of the use of Capsa friction tubes. As ever, I would prefer screws, though begrudgingly acknowledge that Capsa is the most secure option. The standout feature of the bracelet, for me, was the quick release end links that are integrated with the bracelet. No flying spring bars, no (or at least less) scratched lugs. Just pinch, attach, and go (it takes a bit of practice get the angle and such right, but once you’ve got it, it’s easy). Releasing the bracelet for strap changes is also a breeze, and as you can see, I did so with great effect multiple times.

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

You’ll be forgiven if you’ve visited the Chris Ward website and been overwhelmed—they’re approaching an Omega level of SKUs. But go ahead and click through. How many watches do you see that are poorly designed, cheap looking, or just detestable? I’d wager it’s in the low single digits. As I hope I've made clear, they’re doing great things. The C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition is a superb watch, executed beautifully with few if any major flaws. But in addition to being a mouthful to say, it’ll take a walletful to acquire at $2,160 on the bracelet (you can save $110 if you opt for a strap). If you want the SH21, the value is there: I think Frederique Constant is a very similar brand, and their cheapest in-house watch is $2,495—and that’s a time-only, non-COSC, 42-hour power reserve watch that comes on a strap. And other brands are only more expensive. But the beauty of the Trident LE doesn’t rest solely in the 5-day in-house movement; it sits equally with the design that carries that movement. And that design—the C65 case—starts at just $795. And it comes in all sorts of variants, with different dials, bezel or not, 4+ strap and bracelet options, and 3 different movements. After over a week with the Trident LE, I've developed an itch for one of the C65 models, and I can highly recommend you check them out as well. Also, it comes in a neat wooden box.

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition lume

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