It’s hard to talk about Christopher Ward these days without mentioning the Bel Canto in the same breath. The accessible British brand’s repurposing of a jumping hours into a chiming hours was one of the most impressive launches of 2022 and one that’s still at fever pitch if the speed with which the recent colours were snapped up is anything to go by.
There was always a risk that Christopher Ward would look at the Bel Canto’s success and do what any business would and milk it. A rainbow of colours, weird special editions, all Bel Canto, all the time. There’s still a chance we may see a bit of that, but at least the C65 Dune shows that it won’t be to the minimisation of other cool pieces.
The C65 Dune is essentially a new baseline model for Christopher Ward, a streamlined field watch built for everyday wear. The main difference between this and something like the C63 Sealander which ostensibly shares the same space is that, like the C65 Divers, the Dune has a more retro feel to it.
In part, that’s due to the sumptuous dials, offering 1950s richness instead of the more modern, utilitarian, military matte we’ve become used to. That vintage-adjacent look is also hammered home with a box crystal. It’s always good to see the pricier sapphire crystal, even if it’s slightly at odds with Christopher Ward’s contemporary Light Catcher case. So far, so good. But even by the new Dune Collection’s standards – which includes a standard automatic and a limited-edition GMT version – the Bronze we have here is a special case.
Despite 2022 having more than its fair share of bronze watches, I’m still not sold on it. At the baseline, I like the colour of the metal, I like the contrast with darker colours and generally think most bronze watches look, on the surface, absolutely stunning. What I don’t like are the innate properties of bronze that make it unique.
By that I of course mean the patina, which feels like a ‘feature not a bug’ situation to me. Over time it gets a patina as it’s exposed to air, the oil from your skin, general environmental shifts. It can look like graceful age; more often than not it looks dirty. A full bronze watch like this will very quickly start looking dirty.
The other downside on the C65 Dune in particular is discolouration. Many bronze watches have a steel or titanium caseback, just to avoid the metal colouring your skin a sickly green tint. The Dune does the same with a sapphire and steel caseback. But the bracelet is all bronze. That’s going to discolour your wrist, even outside of a warm spring afternoon.
The problem is that the bronze suits the C65 Dune to high hell. It works flawlessly with the subtle facets of the Light Catcher case and just as well with the retro box crystal. The bronze indexes, hands and logo are perfect on the shimmering blue dial and the full bronze bracelet is as eye-catching as it is comfortable.
It’s a catch-22; I want to wear it because the bronze looks phenomenal, but by wearing it the metal will patina, which I don’t want. That’s not to say you can’t clean it of course, and bronze buffs up nicely with just a bit of elbow grease. So yes, if bronze bothered me that much, I could just clean my watches more. Honestly, that’s something I should do more anyway, regardless of metal. But who has time for that?
Inside is the same Sellita calibre as the standard automatic model, but in keeping with the slightly more prestigious construction, it’s been chronometer certified. It has the same 38-hour power reserve, but with the assurance of COSC testing to back up its workhorse accuracy. I’d still like to see more of Christopher Ward’s in-house calibres, but this is a solid back-up.
The bottom line is that the C65 Dune Bronze is a stunner. That’s the same of the green version as the blue (I honestly think I might prefer the green), with their retro touches and the kind of accessible build quality we’ve come to expect from Christopher Ward. If you’re less finnicky about the metal – or actually like the patina, also valid – then it’s a must-buy, especially for this price tag.
For me though, I’m not sure I could ever get on board with a full bronze piece like this. That’s not saying I’m not tempted; just that I’d very quickly swap it onto a strap.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Christopher Ward C65 Dune Bronze
- Case/dial: 38mm diameter x 11.9mm thickness, bronze case, marine blue or beachgrass dial
- Water resistance: 150m (15 bar)
- Movement: Sellita calibre SW200 COSC, automatic, 25 jewels, COSC-certified
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 38h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
- Strap: Bronze bracelet
- Price/availability: £1,205, pre-order for mid March 2023
More details at Christopher Ward.