The first watch to bear the stamp of Christopher Ward’s young new designer, the Trident Pro C60 600m Chronograph is a very solid watch indeed – but does it go far enough?
Christopher Ward has been startling in its productivity in recent years – as we noted with the release of the brand’s first moonphase, releases come thick and fast across every section of the brand’s range. The prices are for the most part pretty reasonable and the brand is showing great ambition both in broadening its offering of complications and in acquiring Synergies Horlogeres SA to produce its 5-day chronometer movement.
The criticism, however, has always been that the designs lack polish – and in places, have a distinctly familiar look to them. To quote co-founder Mike France (from when we spoke to him for the March issue of QP): “It has been said of us – sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly – that we have been guilty of too much “homage” to well-known designs. Well, most brands do it, and we’ve always been open about it, but where that criticism has been justified, fair do’s.”
Just as it hired talented watchmaker Johannes Janke several years ago to beef up their horological offering, Christopher Ward has now taken on a Swiss designer by the name of Adrian Buchmann. With a background at a Swiss agency and a specialist movement start-up, Buchmann has been charged with making the watches more distinctive.
So, has he succeeded? The truth is, it’s a bit early to tell. Buchmann has hardly ripped up the Trident – the brand’s most successful model – and started again, and arguably there was no real need to. The challenge was to incorporate a chronograph to the diver for the first time, which brings with it the potential for serious clutter. Using the same 6-12 layout as most of the brand’s other chronographs (it’s a modified 7750 base), Buchmann has dipped into his paintbox to bring a vivid yellow to the subdials and second hand, paired with a deeper, richer blue than that found on previous Tridents.
It works. Christopher Ward has been bright and colourful before but not particularly successfully. This time round, it’s bang on trend (at Baselworld, it seemed like every brand had just discovered colours beyond blue). The other design flourish of Buchmann’s is a running seconds indicator at 9 o’clock; rather than a hand it takes the form of a blue and white disc visible through six apertures. As it rotates, there’s an “inhale-exhale” quality to it, which seems fitting for a dive watch. It’s a nice touch, and the kind of creative thinking that has been lacking.
Elsewhere, not much is changed aesthetically; you get the option of a blue rubber strap, as we had here, which is a first for the brand (previous options were only black); the other choice is a steel bracelet. Which brings us in a roundabout kind of way to the Trident Pro’s technical chops; this is a diving chrono so should be packing a punch.
First up, as the name suggests it is water-resistant to 600m. Good stuff; this says less about the likelihood that you will take it underwater as it does about the brand’s commitment to making solid watches. A bit of overcompetence never hurt anyone. You also get a helium escape valve, which is a bit “take it or leave it” for 99.9% of buyers, but does add a smidgen of credibility. The rotating bezel is ceramic – another indication Chr. Ward has aspirations to compete with more established (and more expensive) brands.
You get screw-down pushers, as you would expect. They look burly and they feel pleasantly tactile; operating them with gloves is perfectly possible. The bracelet is adjustable in 5 increments of 2.1mm and there is a healthy amount of Superluminova on the hour markers and hands – none on the chrono functions though. It’s 43mm wide and sits 17.1mm proud of the wrist – not a small watch by any standards, but perfectly reasonable in this arena. We found it wears comfortably – enough wrist presence without feeling like a lump. It claims a 48-hour power reserve and there’s even a date window sneakily hidden in the chronograph hours subdial at 6 o’clock.
All of which would set you back £1,395 on the rubber, £1,455 on steel. On the bare specs it’s quite a lot of watch for the money, and certainly evidence of a sharper eye for design. Criticism feels like nit-picking rather than a duty and we’re hard-pushed to think of a rival at this price. Hats off to them.