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Followers of British watchmaker Christopher Ward may remember two watches from recent years. The first was the brand's 2020 Super Compressor, a watch that lives up to its name in style and function. The second came a year later, the C65 Divetimer, a limited edition that showcased colorful decompression scales on the dial. Both watches shared the brand's signature light-catcher case, and both offered diving functions and a color palette of blue and orange. Both seemed to go down quite well, so why not combine both watches into a new production model? Why not? Thus comes the Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite, a true Super Compressor that brings the Divetimer's scales to the dial for a busier, more upbeat look and a fairly comfortable feel on the wrist.

As with many quirky watches, the obsolescence of the Super Compressor case hasn't stopped brands from revising the design. When the Super Compressor was introduced in the late 1950s, there was simply no way to achieve the depth rating it offered. Most Super Compressors were rated to 600m, which was unthinkable for a wristwatch at the time. The mechanism worked using an O-ring in the caseback and a spring that compressed as water pressure increased; the deeper you dived, the tighter the seal became, theoretically offering unlimited water resistance. Modern manufacturing processes have made the extra components completely unnecessary, and now we have our deep sea divers patting Super Compressors on the head and telling them to run off and have fun on the playground. The Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite revisits this design feature, and brings modern improvements to the case as well.


The Super Compressor Elite has a diameter of 41 mm, a width of 47.12 mm from lug to lug and a thickness of 13.75 mm.. The thickness surprised me, not least because this watch wears so well on the wrist. Particularly when I wore it on a number of different (non-CW) bracelets, the near-perfect design of the Light Catcher case seemed to hug my wrist. I believe this is partly due to the slight tonneau shape of the Super Compressor compared to the more traditional cases of other Light Catcher models. One thing to note is that it can appear slightly larger on the bracelet than the 41mm it is. While most slow motion bezels create a separation and make a dial appear smaller, this one is almost on the same plane as the dial and is only slightly tilted; when you look at the size by eye, this creates the illusion that they are one and the same. With only a narrow polished border around the crystal, the dial takes up most of the footprint of the watch. The watch is water resistant to 150m, although I've heard that this is just to indicate how deep it can dive. without the super compressor activates and the brand hasn't specifically tested how deep it can go before failing. I'm guessing a few hundred meters more, but I've never tested it either.

Allow me a moment to really moan about the bracelet. I don't care that it's 22mm, that fits the case well enough. The quick release lugs are easy to use and seem sturdy, and the quick adjustment mechanism in the clasp is of the same quality. Plus, thanks to the flattened lug box, you can basically put any 22mm bracelet in there without worrying about an awkward gap. But two things caught my eye that I couldn't ignore. One is admittedly petty, but perhaps something you won't forget once I've mentioned it (and I'm really sorry about that). It's always been a particular pet peeve of mine when the finish on the end links doesn't match or complement the finish on the lugs. Here you have a circular brush finish on the lugs, while the end links are straight brushed. This breaks the flow of an otherwise smooth transition and is the main reason why I would recommend you buy this watch with the two-tone Tropic strap; there is also a light blue fluted FKM rubber strap that is $10 more expensive and $50 less attractive.

My other issue concerns the screws used. I was under the impression that the Bader bracelet used screw links, which are by far the easiest to use and certainly secure enough (I was happy about this in my review of the latest version of the Trident Pro). Instead, when adjusting the bracelet size on the C65 Super Compressor Elite, I came across a pin and collar system, my old nemesis. These are undoubtedly the most secure option for links, but they are also a real pain and in my opinion, just not worth it. So I did some research: why did CW switch back again? It turns out they didn't. The reality is far more terrifying: for the same bracelet, in three materials and two sizes, Christopher Ward uses three different methods of attaching the links. The brand uses pin and collar, screw pins and Dual Screw pins. And there seems to be no rhyme or reason. Some divers have screw pins while others use pin and collar, and the bracelet for the 36mm C63 Sealander uses two screw pins! I'm asking for some consistency, Christopher!




The star of the show here is, of course, the dial. If you thought otherwise, you're probably beyond help. You may remember the original Super Compressor the brand made, and the text debacle that occurred on its first edition. While undeniably attractive, the “Super Compressor” text at 6 o'clock was off-center on many of the first models. Thankfully, the busier dial here prevents such mishaps. The base of the dial has a sunburst finish with a blue gradient from top to bottom, beautifully reminiscent of a deepening sea. However, it's mostly obscured except in the center.

Looking from the outside in, you'll see a unidirectional internal bezel operated with the crown at 2 o'clock (with the telltale crosshatch pattern of the super compressor). There's an orange ring around the crown to help distinguish it. Both crowns are easy to grip and operate – CW has never let me down when it comes to crowns. I also applaud the use of a 120-click unidirectional bezel. Most internal bezels are locked and unlocked with a crown, but few are unidirectional and even fewer have true clicks. All brands take note: this is how it should be. Stepping inside, you'll see a slim minute track with applied hour markers with Super-LumiNova dots. This is complemented by the hands, which feature a blocky sword design and generous space for the lume, as well as the signature trident counterweight on the lollipop seconds (I guess it's more of a square than a lollipop, but you get my point).

The rest of the dial is taken up almost entirely by the decompression scales. Decompression scales on watches were made obsolete by dive computers, but first appeared in 1962, and both Mido and Vulcain have resorted to them with modern versions (though it also reminds me of the B&R multimeter). Because I can't do better, I'll just quote the brand: “The diver simply identifies his diving depth (in meters or feet at 12 o'clock) and follows the corresponding ring around the dial clockwise to read first the maximum dive time at which no decompression is required, and then, if the dive goes beyond that point, how long it will take before one can resurface to decompress.” The whole point is to avoid decompression sickness, or “the diver's disease.” Seems simple enough, but I've never bothered (I get the diver's disease naturally: by maintaining a sedentary lifestyle at nearly 40). I like the color scheme and the scales add a bit of fun to the already beautiful dial. Initially I thought the orange scales under the orange minute hand might cause issues with legibility, but with regular use I found that I could easily see the minute hand at a glance.

I know watch newbies are dazzled by the “spinning thing,” but I'm a bit jaded. If a movement isn't beautifully finished, I don't think it should be on display. While CW usually outfits its rotors with a signature colimaçoné ​​design, its movements are otherwise unadorned. Instead, the C65 Super Compressor Elite features a sapphire crystal on the caseback with a diving helmet medallion embellished with the original EPSA logo. I'm all for that, and I also like being able to see the top of the compression ring, which makes the watch a real eye-catcher. Super compressorIn addition, Christopher Ward has given the Super Compressor an improved movement, the chronometer-certified Sellita SW300-1, which offers a 56-hour power reserve at 28,800 A/h and has the accuracy of -4/+6 seconds per day that comes with the chronometer class.

Putting aside the admittedly unimportant strap issues, this new mashup is a fun, easy-to-wear dive option that isn't too serious but still offers the functionality most modern enthusiasts actually want in a watch (although I haven't heard anything about the wide variety of pins used, I'm told an updated strap with a shorter clasp, steeper taper and screws will be available later in the year). I stand by my recommendation to buy it on the two-tone Tropic, which takes everything to a new level and undoubtedly makes the watch even more enjoyable to wear. The Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor Elite costs 1,685 USD on blue rubber, 1,675 USD on two-tone Tropic and $1,840USD on the Bader bracelet shown here. For more information, visit Christopher Ward's website.

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