“It’s here!” British watchmaker Christopher Ward announces, “the ultra-accurate Christopher Ward C60 Abyss SH21.” Looking at CW’s new “stealth watch” raises an interesting question: why? Why would you make a watch that “sometimes looks a solid black, others completely transparent”?
While there are plenty of expensive watches with limited legibility (I’m looking at you Mr. Mille), the C60 Abyss plumbs new depths of “watch as anti-timekeeper.” Mr. Ward’s carefully lit PR shots make it clear that the C60’s smoked sapphire crystal – machined to 0.6mm – isn’t very clear.
At best, you’re left with a watch that plays peekaboo, that teases wearers and onlookers alike with impenetrable inscrutability. At worst, you’re left with a watch that says “You want to know the time? FOAD.”
Don’t get me wrong: I have a soft spot for watches that abandon the whole timekeeping thing. If I had a spare $350k, I’d be all over the Moser Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black, the only watch that uses a tourbillon as it should be used (as pure decoration).
But if we’re talking about watches that do do, that voodoo, that they do so well, let’s just say there’s a reason our reviews rate “legibility.” To be fair, at the right angle, in the right light, the C60 Abyss is nowhere near opaque as its name suggests.
Thus positioned, we can see the the date wheel circumnavigating the C60’s dial – and maybe wish we couldn’t. Also appearing out of the dark: the dial’s party piece: a 28-part addition to the standard five-day engine. A power reserve indicator.
“It’s red ‘danger’ zone shows when it needs winding up,” the presser proclaims. When you can see it, that is.
In the right light, as sure as eggs is eggs, you will. I can’t think of another watch that makes more of a feature of a feature that bugs me. It’s a BIG complication. On a BIG watch. A fact that Mr. Ward’s PR team begrudgingly admits.
The watch is on the larger side, but because of its light-catcher case, it never feels big. And thanks to the case’s brushed stainless-steel construction and elements of grey gunmetal PVD and black DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating, it remains true to the watch’s monochrome aesthetic.
At this point I’m longing for Kodachrome, but there’s no denying Mr. Ward’s taken the James Cameron theme to the extreme. Props for deploying black Super-LuminNova lume. (“Hey Hans, do we have any of that phosphorescent pigment that no one uses?”)
Say what you will (I know I have), the Christopher Ward C60 Abyss is an amazing example of the British brand’s technical and manufacturing prowess.
This horological dark horse holsters CW’s Calibre SH21, “the first commercially viable mechanical movement from a British watch brand in over 50 years.” While that statement isn’t bound to please the British Watch & Clockmakers Guild, the SH21 is a twin-barrel beauty boasting a 120 hour power reserve, delivering COSC-certified accuracy.
The C60 offers a lot of monochromatic British/Swiss tech for a $1k. Our reviews of Mr. Ward’s timepieces (C65 Trident Diver here, C2 Moonglow here) give me every reason to believe the Christopher Ward C60 Abyss is a well-constructed watch in every detail. But I’m still left wondering WTF.
If there’s one thing that rescues the Christopher Ward C60 Abyss from the, uh, abyss it’s the bezel. A more-or-less unreadable bezel on a more-or-less unreadable watch is funny! As someone who spent 13 years in The Land of Hope and Glory, I’m well aware of the British penchant for bone dry humor.
Then again, the Christopher Ward C60 Abyss is water resistant to 600m. Go figure.