Aquitaine? Why name a watch Aquitaine? Aquitaine is an ancient region of southwestern France. The medieval historians will automatically think of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was the Duchess of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II, mother of Richard the Lionheart and one of the most powerful and influential women in 12th century Europe and England. What does Aquitaine have to do with watches and dive watches in particular? There is at least one more famous person from Aquitaine: Jacques Cousteau. He was a pioneer of SCUBA diving technology and of showing the underwater world to audiences through television programmes such as “The undersea world of Jacques Cousteau.” As an inspiration for a retro dive watch there is no-one better than Jacques Cousteau. The C65 Aquitaine is the second generation of Christopher Ward’s retro dive watch line and is a significant rethink of Christopher Ward’s retro dive watch.
The C65 Aquitaine line contains three distinct models at launch The Aquitaine watches continue the use of the Light catcher™ case and each watch is 41mm in diameter. The case has been modified so that the water resistance has increased to 200m and the lug tip to lug tip length has been reduced. The lug width is 22mm and so there will be plenty of alternative strap choices. The Light-catcher case is at its best with smaller and slimmer cases and the 41mm size and slim design will play to its strengths. Each of the watches have a sapphire case back. Christopher Ward’s love affair and expertise with sapphire has gone in a new direction with the Aquitaine watches. They have used a domed sapphire bezel insert which is more scratch resistant and more colourful than before and looks superb when matched with the box sapphire crystal.
Christopher Ward have also continued to evolve the bracelets. Half-links were introduced last year and now it is more tapered and has screw links. The evolution of the bracelet is one of the many ways that Christopher Ward has listened to feedback from their customers and made changes to improve the design and wearability of their watches.
C65 Aquitaine Automatic
The C65 Aquitaine automatic is a three handed dive watch and forms the core of the range. The date window has been moved to 6 o’clock although the date wheel isn’t colour matched. It has a lug tip to lug tip length of 46.7mm and is a slender 12.45mm thick. It is available in three colours; Seamoss green, marine blue and white sand. The white sand version has a green bezel with gold printing. Christopher Ward have kept the trident counterbalance for the red tipped lollipop seconds’ hand.
The C65 watches received a screw in crown a couple of years ago following customer requests. The unguarded crown design has been revised again to include “Dry Marshal”. This is a modification to the base of the crown that allows the wearer to more easily tell if crown is properly sealed. It consists of a marker that aligns with the case when the crown is properly screwed into it. It’s little innovations like this that give the wearer confidence in the ability of the watch and improve the wearer experience.
The C65 Aquitaine Automatic is available from the Christopher Ward website for £895/$1,075. The full range will be available by the end of May 2022.
C65 Aquitaine GMT
The second watch in the C65 Aquitaine range is the GMT. It is available in white sand with a marine blue bezel. The tip of the GMT hand is colour matched to the bezel and contrasts strongly against the cream dial. Each watch in the revised C65 range has lume-filled, applied indices. There is a large triangle at 12 o’clock whilst the 3 and 9 o’clock indices are trapezoidal and the remainder are circular. The Aquitaine GMT is currently only available with a “White sand” dial which comes with an off-white lume. The GMT hand has a blue tip to match the bezel. It will be interesting to see how legible the GMT is in the “white Sand” colourway with the revised hand finishing and lume.
The C65 Aquitaine GMT is powered by a Selitta SW330-2 with a power reserve of 50 hours. The use of the SW330-2 means that the case thickness increases slightly to 12.7 mm.
The C65 Aquitaine GMT is available from the Christopher Ward website for £1,120/$1,350 on the bracelet.
C65 Aquitaine Bronze COSC
The Aquitaine Automatic and GMT have cases made from 316L stainless steel. The C65 range has used bronze cases throughout its history and the use of the, popular, material is no surprise at the refresh. The Aquitaine Bronze uses a COSC certified Selitta SW200-1 movement and retains the slim dimensions of the Aquitaine Automatic.
The bronze case is complimented by the “Marine blue” dial and gold coloured hands and indices. The “Twin Flags” word mark is printed in white at the 12 o’clock position and the remainder of the dial text is minimal. If you’ve got this far then you’ve probably noticed the most obvious change to the C65 Aquitaine range. There is no “Christopher Ward” wordmark on the dial. The wordmark has been omitted from the Apex and Concept watches but this is the first time it has been omitted on a complete range of watches. It appears on the rotor and, in future, will only appear on the case back and rotor. This is a “Crossing the Rubicon” moment for the brand.
The C65 Aquitaine Bronze COSC is available from the Christopher Ward Website from £1,095/$1,325. COSC certified watches are supplied with their COSC certificate.
The first C65 range was launched in May 2014 and there have been many variations over time. It has appeared as a dive watch, motorsport watch and a military watch too. The design language hasn’t always been consistent and recent releases have only complicated things. It was clearly time to codify the C65 range and with the C65 Aquitaine range, Christopher ward have done just that. The Light-catcher™ case is embedded in the design aesthetic and is at its best with slimmer watches. The hands have been softened and feature a new satin finish. Finally, the wandering “Christopher Ward” word mark has been moved to the case back and the “twin flags” logo now carries the brand identity.
The use of a sapphire bezel and domed sapphire glass hint are inspired by an earlier generation of watches. The first Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was released in 1953 and was the watch that set the pattern for a modern dive watch. The C65 Aquitaine range is clearly inspired by the Blancpain. Christopher Ward will probably be criticized for this. However, the Aquitaine range is not alone in using the original and modern Fifty Fathoms as an inspiration. Rado, Baltic and others also follow this pattern and it is a bolder choice than another submariner clone.
The C65 Aquitaine line is a significant update for the retro dive range. It brings modern specifications and materials to the fore but keeps a size and aesthetic which is sure to attract a lot of attention. Christopher Ward have not been afraid to evaluate every part of the watch and make improvements. The bezel, sapphire bezel, bracelet, crown, water resistance, hands and indices have all received upgrades. The use of a sapphire bezel is going to enable a lot of new colourways and will keep the range fresh and exciting for a long time.
The design is inspired by the first dive watch but successfully brings modern design principles and materials to the fore. At 41mm they are not the smallest dive watches around but the colour ways and strap combinations make these great for a wide range of wrist sizes. If you were wavering then also consider that 5% of the price of each watch is donated to the Blue Marine Foundation. Perhaps they should be the “look good, feel good, do good’ watch?