Let’s assume you know of Christopher Ward and the brand’s more than 10+ years of unique contributions to the world of horology. CW’s first model was a dress/everyday watch, the Malvern, but since then they have made a name for themselves for creating well-spec’ed, reasonably-priced, high quality sports watches. I own a C63 Sealander GMT which ticks many of the boxes of a great everyday watch that can take a beating and remain gracious doing it. Today we’re taking a look at the C60 Lympstone model, a tough watch approved by the British Ministry of Defence and a tribute to the country’s Royal Marines.
I’m going to be honest here. I thought the watch would be too big for my small wrist as the case comes has a 42mm diameter, a 49.3mm lug-to-lug distance, and a thickness of 13.8mm. (The thickness was not a real concern to me, actually.) Well, I’m happy to report that the watch wears well thanks to its rather thin case-profile and short lug design. The watch is surprisingly comfortable and sits flat on the wrist. The mix of the forged-carbon dial, stainless steel case, and fabric strap guarantee a comfortable wearing experience. Nothing too heavy.
It is remarkable to see a watch that packs so much specifications for about $1,200. Powering this adventurous beast is the COSC-certified Sellita SW200, a reliable movement that beats at 28,000 BPH (4Hz), offers 38 hours of power reserve and which provides some of the smoothest winding action I’ve ever experienced. I’ve become a fan of Sellita movements over the past few years and it is nice to see that Christopher Ward equips so many of their watches with these movements. The movement is secured within the case by screw-down case back and crowns, and boasts an impressive 600 meters of water resistance.
The forged-carbon dial, with its raw and uneven appearance, is affixed with Christopher Ward’s classic multi-faceted indices that are slightly raised from the dial and filled with hips of Grade X1 Super LumiNova lume. The superb dial can be admired in all lighting conditions and from any angle thanks to the thick piece of sapphire crystal and its many layers of anti-reflective coating. Least but not last, this is the very first model from the brand to be equipped with an inner-rotating compass bezel, operated by the crown at the 2 o’clock position.
The entirety of the watch screams adventure, black-ops training and mission impossible. Alternating tones of dark and lighter blacks and deep grays, the case is as stealthy as a F-117 Nighthawk. The forged carbon dial displays natural patterns inherited from the production process, giving the watch an air of ruggedness and rawness I’ve never seen before. This look is completed by the rather flat applied indices (Christopher Ward’s indices generally sit taller, like it is the case on the C63 Sealander line), and the brushed black ceramic bezel, showcasing deeply-engraved numerals on the five minutes’ markers.
The dial, being the most noticeable element of any watch, truly is striking to look at. I can’t really explain why, but I love how flat the dial seems. From the flat piece of sapphire crystal to the flat applied indices, there is something unique about the experience of looking at this dial that I’ve never seen before. It’s as if the watch was trying to remain discreet despite the fact that it has a COSC movement, a forged carbon dial, and 600 meters of water resistance. Wearing the watch clearly indicates it’s on my wrist, given the larger proportions, although it didn’t bother me at all.
The case displays a fine brushing, so does the bezel that has a remarkably smooth appearance despite being made of ceramic. (The bezel actually looks as if it is made of stainless steel.) Being of ceramic means the bezel weights less than if it would have should it have been made of steel, however, it is sturdier and has a higher resistance to scratches. Given the fact that the entirety of the watch head is brushed accentuates the black-ops vibe of the watch. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel I had to go on mission to feel comfortable wearing the watch. Being at home in the suburbs of Paris was equally an appropriate place to wear the Lympstone as it would have been undercover behind enemy lines.
(However, knowing that I could be called at any moment to jump off an airplane or stealthily swim to the enemy base, I felt ready knowing that the Lympstone was on my wrist.)
Another interesting design feature of the watch is the choices of strap it comes with. The model showcased here comes on a thick strap made of something called #tide ocean material, with bright orange stitching in the middle, perfectly matching the orange seconds hands. (The Tide straps are unique in that they are made from 100% recycled marine plastic.) The watch can also be had on a black orange hybrid strap, a black rubber strap, or a gun metal bracelet.
The Heart of the Matter
The question here is whether or not you need a C60 Lympstone in your collection. After all, this watch was designed for British Special Forces and it would be fair to assume that most of us will never find ourselves in a situation that calls for this kind of watch. The most adventure we would all mostly get in our lifetime is hiking and perhaps scuba diving, without mentioning the potential dangers and assaults we face in office meetings. A typical watch collection is comprised of a dress watch, a sports watch, and a beater watch. For some people, all of these watches can be had for less than $250. Others spend thousands of dollars on these three watches, and although they get more watch for their money, they wouldn’t need COSC-movements or ceramic bezels in their day-to-day lives.
But watch collecting is about passion. It’s about getting a timepiece that invites us to become a different version of ourselves—a better one. I for one see myself as an adventurous person who wouldn’t mind exploring the jungles of the Amazon or, quite the opposite, the concrete jungle of New York City. Being as it may, I love the idea of having a rugged tool watch in my collection. I may not become a Royal Marine tomorrow, or ever, but I do appreciate the reasons why these watches were made. Who they were made for. Let’s face it: the first divers were made for frogmen, the first pilot watches were made for World Ward II pilots, and the first field watches were made for infantry men.
So, if we buy a Rolex Submariner to go out for brunch on the weekends, or an IWC Pilot Mark XVIII to the the office, we can certainly get a Christopher Ward C60 Lympstone. The point is that we don’t need these watches, but we want them. And if there is something clear about watch collecting is that we buy watches that we don’t need but want, because of their history, because of who they were made for, and because of how good they look. The good thing about a tough tool watch is that you know you’re getting a reliable timepiece. The movement won’t gain or loose too much time, the crystal won’t scratch easily, the case will withstand bangs and scraps. The point is that we must buy and wear what we like.
Christopher Ward, as we saw above, has a knack for making affordable, well-made, and well spec’ed watches and the Lympstone is no different. Being able to wear this watch for a couple of weeks constituted an eye-opening experience for me. I had never seen myself wearing this kind of watch before, but as soon as I strapped it on, I realized I could and that I should. Having a COSC movement, for example, is a great reason in itself for buying the Lympstone. It’s precise, sturdy, and reliable. The brushed case and bezel means the watch can take abuse. The forged-carbon dial screams adventure and I have been yearning for it every day I wore the Lymptsone.
This watch is, then, a great piece of attainable horology. Christopher Ward did it again. I was impressed enough already by the C63 Sealander GMT—think: a GMT movement in a well-made watch with beautiful finish for $1,400—and I am even more impressed by the Lympstone in that it brings even more originality for an equally reasonable amount of cash. You may not see the need for a black-op-type watch at the moment, but you can buy the equivalent of a Tudor Pelagos FXD for much less money while supporting a brand that has done everything but to disappoint and to come short of ideas and innovations.