If you know your horological history, you’ll know that many of the world’s best-known and best-loved brands are practically as old as the industry itself, and have got to the top of the game thanks to moments of staggering innovation: creating the first watch case to survive underwater, for example, or inventing the first automatic movement, which blew the minds of the watch-loving public by harnessing gravity to keep itself ticking.
So with that in mind, it’s probably unfair to judge newer watchmakers by the standards of, say, Rolex. But while a contemporary brand like Christopher Ward simply hasn’t been around long enough to have played a part in the mechanical advances of the 1920s or 1960s, that doesn’t mean it can’t create a bit of its own history every now and again.
Set up in 2005 by Mike France, Peter Ellis and Chris Ward, the British brand arguably perfected the template for something that’s now far more commonplace: a start-up making mechanical watches designed in Britain but powered by Swiss movements. And with flagship models like the Super Compressor and Trident now well known to the watch-adoring public, and the creation of its own Calibre SH21 movement (not to mention the requisite polarising collaborations and brand refresh along the way), there’s no doubting that Christopher Ward is now a legitimate player.
Christopher Ward perfected the template of British-designed watches with Swiss movements
What it didn’t have, though, was a line of sports watches – that is until now, and the release of the C63 Sealander collection. This eye-catching line features three models, the C63 Sealander Automatic, the C63 Sealander GMT, with a 24-hour bezel and the brand’s distinctive trident second hand, and the titanium-cased C63 Sealander Elite. Each are powered by a version of the Sellita SW base calibre movement, and while the GMT has drawn inevitable comparisons to Rolex’s Explorer II in its aesthetic, it’s a great-looking sports watch whatever the price point.
The Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT
The GMT version of the C63 Sealander line is the one that caught my eye. It combines the collection's sporty aesthetic with the always lovely (and occasionally genuinely useful) GMT function, and is surely one of the most affordable mechanical watches on the market to showcase that particular complication.
It features a compact, sleek date window at 6pm, and while the splash of orange and 24-hour bezel in particular definitely have more than a hint of Explorer II about them – but, as mentioned earlier, which watch brand hasn't used a piece of Rolex's aesthetic or function and made it their own? Meanwhile, it's a bona fide sports watch on a bracelet, but dressier on a leather or fabric strap, as pictured above. It all adds up to a value proposition that’s hard to beat by a watchmaker which has created an enviable history of its own in the short time it’s been in the game.