Inside & Out: C60 Trident Chronograph from Christopher Ward
How I got this watch: I contacted Christopher Ward to request a review piece. I was given a selection of various watches and I chose the C60 Trident Chronograph which I wore for a week.
In just over a decade Christopher Ward has made huge waves within the watch industry. What started as an idea between three friends on boat has surged into the brand having over forty models (plus dozens of individual references), an in-house movement and some of the most affordable pricing in the entire industry. The Trident C60 Chronograph is the latest piece to come out of their popular diving watch line and is available in steel, titanium and black PVD coated titanium. Last week I spent some time with the stainless steel C60 Trident Chrono currently available for $2000.
Inside the watch is an ETA Valjoux 7750, one of the most recognisable chronograph movements currently in production. When you visit your local jewelers looking for a chronograph it is extremely like that most of the watches you'll see, that aren't explicitly in-house movements, will be some variation of the 7750. The forty year old movement is incredibly versatile and can have two registers, three registers, a moonphase complication and full calendar variants at the higher levels. Released in 1974 by Valjoux, it had a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s as the industry was fighting against the tsunami of Japanese quartz threatening to pull the whole mechanical watch industry under. The column wheel chronograph had long been a symbol of talent and precision as it was a time consuming and labor intensive part to make however in these dire times finesse wasn't needed to survive. The 7750 utilized the cam and lever system which wasn't as accurate or as intricate as a column wheel but was reliable, robust and could be mass produced.
The 7750 has been used in watches from the TAG Heuer Carrera (Caliber 16), IWC Fliegerchronograph (Caliber 79350), Tudor Fastrider (MT5621) and countless other brands over the last forty years and now has found a home in the C60 Trident. The movement is easily recognizable to those familiar with it as it has several behavioural hallmarks. As it only winds in one direction, the free spin of the rotor can be felt on the wrist and there is a slightly stutter of the chronograph when first activated. These are either charming quirks or irritations depending on your preferences, I had no issue with either of them during my time with the watch.
What is refreshing about Christopher Ward is that the movement is described in the press release as an ETA Valjoux 7750. Not a Caliber CWsomething, not glossed over as "automatic self-winding movement" but labelled clearly as an ETA movement. They are open about how they have acquired the movement and how their watchmakers have customized and engraved it to suit their specifications. As other brands based in England using Swiss Made movements have discovered, transparency and honesty are always the best policies.
The 7750 has several different grades which offer a variety of finishings and accuracies going up to chronometric performance. The C60 Trident has the elaborated grade movement which has a cotes de geneve finishing and was adjusted to three positions with an average rate of +/- 5 seconds a day with a maximum daily variation of +/- 15 seconds a day. During my time with the watch it kept good time and I never had to adjust it.
The first thing you'll notice about the Trident are the bright metallic yellow subdials that contrast wonderfully against the the deep navy dial. The matching yellow chronograph hands allow the watch to be extremely legible and distinct even at a distance or in low light. The two registers at 12 and 6 are nicely proportioned for the dial and the thin black graduation marks allow for quick reading at a pinch however I never quite got used to the thirty minute timer at 12 o'clock. I've never really worn a chronograph for any great length of time so it might just be my inexperience but I would misread 10 minutes elapsed for 20 far more frequently that I care to admit. The date window at 6 o'clock does sometimes get lost within the sub-dial and I sometimes forgot it was there.
After your eyes have gotten used to the bumblebee yellow it is the running seconds sub-dial at 9 o'clock that is the most distinctive design element to the C60 chronograph. Rather than a traditional hand display, the Trident has a rotating disc sunken beneath the dial that displays white oblong markers through six windows. As the dial rotates these markers pass underneath these windows and as they are broken up they appear to undulate and 'breathe'. The design takes inspiration from a diver's breathing regulator, the bit that sticks out of their mouth, and the almost zoetrope like effect is hypnotising. For those that desire absolute precision then this isn't for you as there are no exact markers but the idea is more about showing the watch is running if the chronograph isn't activated rather than exact measurement. These oblong markers are painted with the same superluminova as the hands, markers and bezel markings so it does show up at night however as they are sunken down they don't glow as much as the other hands. It's a selling point that it totally unique to the C60 Trident and I was really impressed by it.
Despite a 43mm case size the Trident Chrono sat well on my wrist and the micro adjustments hidden in the clasp allowed me to adjust the watch during the day when I got hot so it was never uncomfortable. It was certainly a jump up in size and height from the Travelling Watch from Watches by Nick but I believe 43mm to be a perfectly suitable size for a modern diver's chronograph. All the graduation markings on the bezel along with the hands and hour markers are coated in superluminova which at night allowed me to read the watch with complete ease. I was able to put the watch on my bedside table and lean over in the night to check the time and it was still glowing when I woke up in early morning.
One thing that I couldn't bring myself to love were the screw-down chronograph pushers. To me a chronograph is only useful if it's able to function quickly and the screw-down pushers negate any speedy timing. The reason for the screw-down pushers is of course to ensure the watch resistance of 600 meters (2000 feet) however the wearer is left with two options; take the watch off and unscrew the pushers every time or leave the pushers unscrewed and hope you don't get the watch wet. . Once unscrewed however the chronograph works well and seeing the trident counterweight spin around was always a pleasure.
It is the details that really set the C60 Trident Chronograph apart from watches similarly priced. Where you would usually see an aluminum bezel you find a deep rich navy blue ceramic which has a very satisfying click-click-click to it. The bracelet felt sturdy and secure and though sometimes fiddly to reset, the 5 x 2mm micro adjustments in the clasp was a nice surprise. Even up close the trident counterweight is crisp and detailed and the undulating wave pattern at the center of the dial reflects the light beautifully. This wave pattern is repeated on the steel caseback with a larger trident in the middle with text reading "Trident Chronograph 600M Ceramic" around the outside.
Something that is incredibly admirable about Christopher Ward is their transparency, especially when it comes to pricing. Right on their website they say that whatever the cost price of the watch is they multiple it by three to get the RRP. This is how they are able to offer watches like the C60 Trident chronograph at $2000, a price less than half of what the bigger brands would charge for the same movement. The three pronged attack of the Christopher Ward C60 Trident Chronograph is very effective: low cost, unique design and a quality far greater than the price suggests. This watch is a greater opportunity for those new to mechanical watches to get mechanical chronographs with one of the best and reliable movements around. With Summer just around the corner the C60 Trident Chronograph would be a great addition to any beach going wrist and whilst lack of brand recognition might put off some they'll be missing out on a really great watch.
I'd like to thank Christopher Ward for letting me spend time with the C60 Trident Chronograph. To learn more about the brand and their watches visit www.christopherward.com.
- Christopher Ward : Why Christopher Ward
- Chronomaddox: Valjoux Engine 7750
- Gear Patrol: Timekeeping Icon | Volume 2: The Valjoux 7750 Chronograph
- IWC Forums: Caliber 79350 / Valjoux 7750 / Chronograph 3714
- Luxury Society: In Conversation with Mike France, Co-Founder of Christopher Ward
- Raul Horology: The Legendary Workhouse Chronograph ETA Valjoux 7750
- Timezone: An Interview with Christopher Ward of London
- Watchbase: ETA Caliber 7750