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Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite Watch Review

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite

Decompression timers such as those found on the Mido Ocean Star and Delma Shell Star are quite possibly the most niche yet visually impressive scales you can find on a wristwatch. Unlike the obligatory tachymeter on a chronograph or even a pulsometer or telemeter, decompression timers are a scale that the vast majority of collectors will never need to or have the opportunity to use. However, despite that, they’re still incredibly evocative and popular, giving any wristwatch a cool retro slant. That’s certainly the case with the new Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite, which we have here for review.

Let’s jump right to the dial and that decompression timer, because it’s one of the major areas that the Super Compressor Elite differs from it 2020 predecessors, which had plain dials. The base of the dial is blue with sunray brushed finishing and as you move it under the light it becomes apparent that there’s a slight vertical gradient to it as well. The top of the dial at 12 o’clock is a lighter shade of blue than the bottom at 12.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite

On top of that is the decompression scale consisting of coloured rings in sky blue and orange. To use it, you find the depth you are at and then follow the scale clockwise the amount of time that you have spent at that depth, at which point you will find a number corresponding to how many minutes you have to decompress for during surfacing. The first orange section indicate that no decompression is required and then beyond that decompression is necessary.

For example, a 45-minute dive at 40m/130ft would require 60 minutes of decompression. The watch itself has a 150m water resistance rating but if you’re familiar with how water resistance works then you’ll know that these ratings have to greatly exceed the actual operational depths the watch is designed for.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite

Given how advanced dive computers are these days, decompression timers are largely redundant, but aesthetically they call back to a time when they were necessary. They provide a cool retro influence while their technical nature suits the tool watch design of a diver. For the C65 Super Compressor Elite, it’s been paired with an internal rotating bezel that’s less busy than the 2020 edition and which is operated by the crown at 2 o’clock. The action of the crown is good, easy enough to rotate but also unlikely to be knocked out of position unintentionally.

On the wrist, it wears quite well too. The steel case measure 41mm in diameter, which is appropriate for a dive watch and the sweeping arc of the case from lug to lug gives it an almost tonneau shape. With a thickness of 13.75mm it’s not one to tuck under a cuff but then that was never the point of a watch like this, plus it allows for plenty of surface area to show off the brushed and polished finishing. The three-link Bader bracelet is also nice and comfortable with a gentle taper.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite

Turning the watch over reveals a partially open caseback. It’s technically a sapphire caseback but the centre is taken up by a commemorative coin depicting an old-fashioned diving helmet in celebration of Ervin Piquerez, one of the best-known super compressor case designers in history. Around the edge of the coin is a sapphire ring that allows you to view the Sellita SW300-1 COSC movement with 56-hour power reserve.

Arguably more interesting than the movement is the orange cage around the periphery that houses the super compressor spring. It’s this mechanism that means that as the pressure on the watch increases, so does the water resistance, hence the name super compressor Although some watches with this name don’t actually have compression cases, instead emulating the dual crown style.

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite

Regarding this feature CW Co-founder and CEO Mike France says “we wanted to do something never done before, to allow people to see the compression spring that allows the compressor action. Even though the spring is only 300 microns thick – roughly four times the thickness of a human hair – those with good eyesight (or if you’re like me, a loupe) can see the spring sitting within the caseback. I think that’s pretty cool”.

The Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite is priced at £1,560 on steel bracelet as I have it here. It’s also available on Aquaflex or Tropic straps for £1,405 or £1,395 respectively. This feels like exactly the type of watch Christopher Ward should be making. Interesting horological concepts created at reasonable price points with colourful designs that feel British.

Price and Specs:

Model: Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite
Case: 41mm diameter x 13.75mm thickness, stainless steel
Dial: Deep blue with orange and light blue dive timer scale
Water resistance: 150m (15 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW300-1, COSC-certified, automatic, 25 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 56h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Light blue Aquaflex, bi-colour Tropic or stainless steel Bader bracelet
Price: £1,395 (bi colour Tropic) £1,405 (Aquaflex), £1,560 (stainless steel Bader bracelet)

More details at Christopher Ward.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.