I’ve been a big fan of Christopher Ward for a few years now. The British brand was founded in 2004, and since its inception, its focus has always been on offering unbeatable quality in any given price range. It’s a goal that really resonates with me, and the brand has been constantly pushing the definition of that mission statement with each new model.
The C63 Sealander Elite is no exception to this. Released in the Spring of 2021, the Sealander Elite is the first Christopher Ward watch to feature a retractable crown. This incredibly unusual feature is found in very few watches, the most notable other being the Omega Aqua Terra Ultra Light. That watch retails for £43,550, so I was incredibly surprised to see that Christopher Ward could offer the same feature in a watch that cost £1,380.
The benefits of a retractable crown are firstly, that it doesn’t dig into the back of the wearer’s hand, and secondly that there’s very little chance of the crown getting knocked and damaged. It’s a useful feature to have in a sports watch and, as we’ll get onto shortly, it’s one of several things Christopher Ward have done to try and make the C63 Sealander Elite the ultimate tool watch.
A Watch That’s Built To Be Light
The key selling point of the C63 Sealander Elite is just how light it is. And oh boy, is it light. The watch head weighs only 45g, mainly because the case is made from grade 2 titanium. So, as you’d expect, the watch is as light as a feather on the wrist. In fact, I think you could easily forget that you’re wearing a watch at all.
The case shape follows Christopher Ward’s trademarked Light-catcher design, the signature brushed and polished of which work perfectly together to make the Sealander look equally rugged and refined.
The C63 Sealander Elite saves even more weight by having cut-outs in the dial that go all the way through the watch. It’s a neat idea that creates a unique effect when you hold the watch up to the light. However, unfortunately, when the watch is on your wrist you can’t actually see through them. This means that on the wrist, all the cut-outs do is clutter up the dial.
Light As A Feather, But Tough As Nails
Despite the watch’s lightness, it’s by no means a featherweight when it comes to its specifications. The C63 Sealander Elite has all the features you need in a versatile sports watch. The crystal is a scratch-resistant sapphire with an anti-reflective coating. Meanwhile, the watch is more than capable of taking a dip in the pool with a solid 150m of water resistance.
Inside the C63 Sealander Elite you’ll find a Sellita SW200 automatic movement. If you don’t already know, this is a common Swiss-made calibre that’s widely used by countless watch brands. It’s got 26-jewels and a 38-hour power reserve. In the Sealander Elite Christopher Ward have used the chronometer grade version of the SW200. This means the movement has been certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) to keep time to within -4/+6 seconds per day.
Whilst the SW200 is a fairly common movement to see in Swiss watches priced around £1,000, it’s rare to see the chronometer version at this price point. This gives the Sealander Elite something of an edge over the competition.
You can view the movement through a sapphire crystal display case back. It’s always nice to see a mechanical movement ticking away. Unfortunately, it also means that I can see that the C63 Sealander Elite uses a plastic movement holder. I imagine it was chosen to help keep the watch’s weight down, but to be honest I just don’t want to see plastic in my £1,380 watch. Regardless of whether it actually is worse than a metal movement holder, I can’t help but feel that it cheapens the perceived quality of the watch.
How The C63 Sealander Elite Feels On The Wrist
When it comes to wearability, the C63 Elite should suit most wrist sizes. At 40mm wide the case is on the sweet spot for most people, though it possibly wears a little larger than you’d expect, thanks to a thin bezel and wide dial. It’s also just 10.7mm thick so the Sealander Elite is pretty unobtrusive on the wrist.
The retractable crown I mentioned earlier is spring-loaded and operates by simply pressing the crown. Once it pops out it works just like any other. It really is a neat feature, but my one problem with it is that the crown is a bit narrow. This means there’s not much to grip on to, which makes winding the watch a bit more awkward than it needs to be.
The C63 Sealander Elite is also very easy to read, thanks to its clean dial. The simple applied batons and arrow handset look very refined, and they stand out perfectly against the black dial. The crisp white X1 BL C1 Grade Super-LumiNova that fills them is also nice and bright, so you’ll have no problem reading the time in the dark. As a final flourish, the orange seconds hand and minute markers add a quirky pop of colour that stops the watch from looking too sombre.
There are a variety of strap options for the Sealander, but this sample is on the titanium oyster bracelet. Like all Christopher Ward bracelets, it has a quick-release system and a quick micro-adjustment clasp. Both of these are welcome features, as they make changing the bracelet and tweaking its size incredibly simple. The bracelet also features half links, which further helps you get the perfect fit.
Whilst the C63 Sealander Elite isn’t the cheapest watch Christopher Ward offer, it’s still a great value proposition. It’s ridiculously light and extremely comfortable on the wrist, as well as being kitted out with all the features you’re likely to need in an everyday watch. The fact that the watch uses a chronometer-grade movement is something that I really appreciate. When a brand makes a visible effort to make their watches as accurate as possible it’s a testament to how serious they are about watchmaking.
However, I won’t lie, as I’ve mentioned throughout this review there are a few things I’d change about the watch. The crown could be a bit more ergonomic, the cut-outs seem pointless, and I’d like to see a metal movement holder.
But overall these are minor complaints about a watch that really stands out from the other sports watches at this price point. With its titanium case, chronometer movement, and retractable crown, the C63 Sealander Elite has shown that it’s a serious sports watch that can put similarly priced alternatives to shame.
You can read more about the C63 Sealander Elite on Christopher Ward’s website here.