Christopher Ward is a brand that has come a long way since 2005 and with that, they are now one of the oldest microbrands though I don’t know if I would classify them as a microbrand, as they have so many models to choose from and have created quite a name for themselves. And with that is this Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth, a phenomenal Omega Seamaster homage, with a 41mm case, under 12mm thick, and a COSC SW200-1 movement. At the time of this writing, the price has gone up though since I recorded the video above, not that much, but it is up to $80, bringing the price to $1,195, which does not change my opinion on this watch in the slightest, as I still feel this might be the best watch you can buy for that price.
Now I know, you are rolling your eyes after that last statement, thinking of how many watches are in the $1200 range or cheaper from the likes of Seiko, Hamilton, Tissot, Mido, microbrands like H20 and the list goes on and on. Well, one thing you need to keep in mind, its just my opinion and the other is, for a slim modern watch with a retro styling that homages a Seamaster without being a copy, I am not sure you can do much better. Another watch could come across my table one day and change that and I let me be clear, this is not a Rolex or Omega killer or anything like that, that would be crazy to say and if I did type that I would be afraid to leave my house. I do however think this watch is just a great example of what truly can be done in terms of design, case finishing, and attention to detail, without having to spend $5 grand or more.
The 41mm size is perfect in my opinion and is slightly smaller than the Omega it homages from 1967, which was 42mm believe it or not. This is the CW light catcher case, and that really is an appropriate name. The case finishing alternates between thin lines of brushed and high polished chamfers, creating a unique aesthetic that does look great when it catches the light but also allows this watch to have a little more pop than your standard all brushed fare, without going over the top to turn this into a dressy diver. Even though it is rated to only 150m, you still get a screw-down case back and that massive screw-down crown.
Speaking of the crown, that and the case really is an area where this is nowhere near a copy of the Omega. The case is not only smaller, but the case shape is completely different, with no lyre lugs, no crown guards and overall just has a very different look and feel. I have never worn the Omega, and these might be more “thems fighting words” I am about to say, but this may be an even more comfortable watch on the wrist, with the way the lugs curve down and just how slim and contoured this Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth really is. Something I forgot to point out in the video, as I just really didn’t notice it till looking back over the pictures is the stamped crown also has a blue ring accent, to match the blue on the dial. Just a great touch that many would probably not notice, but we watch enthusiasts do, and it’s the extra details like this that do make this watch stand out.
When it comes to the dial, I want to make sure that I convey the true color of it, as this blue is not your standard blue, and I have seen some reviews where the photos make it appear a vibrant royal blue, and it is not. I don’t know what exactly the hue is, but it is a matte dial and the blue is a duller navy shade, less vibrant, and the aluminum bezel matches as closely as it can, but I really do love this color. I am sure many would like something a little more vibrant, but in the right lighting, this dial really does pop, without being too in your face. The dial is where you will see the most Seamaster inspiration, especially that large triangle at 12 o’clock, but again, it is not a direct copy by any means. The text is kept to an absolute minimum and this is a no-date dial, so no symmetry is being ruined here.
Unfortunately, it’s not all rainbows and roses here and while this is not a deal-breaker, this Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth does have the dreaded phantom date wheel, meaning it is a two-position crown, even though we don’t have a visible date. In reality, is not that big a deal, it is just something I hate to see when so much work has gone into this watch and then gloss over something like having a date wheel on a dial with no date cutout. As much as I love a no-date dial these days, if you are not going to remove the date wheel from the movement or use a no-date movement, just go ahead and give me the date then you know? Anyways, on a brighter note, take a look at those hour and minute hands, how they are cut and brushed and polished, and catch and reflect light just as much as the light catcher case.
When you flip the watch over, you are treated to quite a few things such as a lovely stamped and engraved case back of the Royal Naval Crown, as this watch is officially licensed by the Ministry of Defense-, and I said Defense, not Darkness, for you old school WWF fans out there who just go way too excited.
Of course, under that case back is the SW200-1, and even though we can’t see it, is apparently decorated, but more so than what it looks like, is the fact that is COSC certified, for just about $1200. Now, this is not the only watch that is COSC at this price point. Watches from Zodiac and a good amount of Swatch brands like Tissot and Mido can be had with COSC specs for under $2000 and a few under $1000 as well, but the Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth is still in select company and to some, having a watch with this movement and being COSC is a very big deal.
Another thing you notice when you turn this watch is over is its use of quick-release spring bars for the bracelet. Unlike many others that I have talked about where I despise this, these bars and levers are much more solid feeling and beyond that are extremely easy to use. It seems the days of flimsy quick release bars are a thing of the past, at least on higher-priced watches and the best part here is you don’t even need to turn the watch over to put this bracelet back in. Watch the video and you will see what I mean. Taking this bracelet off and putting it back on is so easy, that if they do hold up over time, then all brands will need to get on board with ones like this, as it really will be the future of bracelets.
The bracelet of the Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouthg is solid and well made, but nothing extraordinary when it comes to the design, standard link bracelet here but as is with the rest of this watch, is very well made and finished, with no hot spots or sharp edges and very finely brushed links. Keeping the links together is the pin and tube system, yeah, it’s a little bit of a pain, and never do it if you have a carpeted floor, but do enough of these and you get the hang of it. The best part of the bracelet thought is the clasp.
Yes, the clasp, is something I feel SO many brands overlook, even from brands costing 3 times the amount of this CW. The clasp has smooth push buttons to open it and like Monta, Breitling with the rubber straps, Omega, and a few others, the extension is not a thin unsightly piece of metal that comes out of the clasp, rather it slides in and out underneath the clasp, only revealing more link. This extension allows you to possibly use it over a wetsuit, and more likely, use it to dial in that perfect fit, especially on those hotter summer days.
One thing I need to apologize for is I misspoke in the video review and said that the lume was C3 Super-LumiNova, which is wrong. It is in fact TC-1 Super-LumiNova, which I believe is RC Tritec C-1 lume. Someone correct me if I am wrong. Anyways, it is coated on the bezel, hands, and indices and it does a decent job throughout the night, or in the dark more specifically, and while it does lose its initial brightness rather quickly, I noticed the dull glow to sustain a good amount of hours, and I had no problem seeing the time after a 6-hour slumber.
And lastly, we get to my favorite part of the Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth- and that’s wearing it! These days, while I still will put on a chunky watch, I love a good slim and sleek watch, especially a dive watch such as this. It is why I purchased a Glycine Combat Sub recently. This CW is just absolutely one of the most comfortable watches I have worn on my wrist in quite some time. The crown does not dig into my hand or wrist at all, the bracelet needs only one link out for a perfect fit on my 7 1/2 inch wrist, and that clasp is just great if I need to make this watch a little tighter or looser on the fly. There is nothing I do not enjoy about wearing this watch.
So some will read this review and call it a “glowing’ review, or that I am gushing and that I must be paid by CW. Well, if that’s you, you haven’t been reading my reviews for too long. I’ve been doing this a long, long time at this point and I always strive to tell it like it is. Now, telling it like it is doesn’t mean it will always align with your opinion and values, and I think this is where some don’t understand the difference between honesty and objectivity. Just because I am honest, doesn’t mean I can not honestly love products I review. Sometimes there are just not a lot of negatives and as much as I come down on some watches I review, every now and then by the law of averages, it only makes sense I will love some pieces. This is one of them. I can easily say I love almost every last detail of this Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth, except that phantom date wheel. Otherwise, it is everything I have been looking for in a slim, attractive, and well-made dive watch, and I don’t think any more needs to be said.
Well, I think I can say one more thing, which is, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review. Also, if you disagree with my review, feel free to post in the comments.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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