World War II-inspired watches have always been popular but not as much as they have been in the past 2-3 years. Either by way of having a historical brand being brought back to life (i.e. Timor) or by having countless independent brands create their own interpretation of a WWII field watch. While some brands make cheap replicas—you know, the ones that can be had on AliExpress for $100—some other brands put a lot of effort in offering a modern interpretation of this type of watch. One brand that did a particularly good job at it is Christopher Ward, when it released the Sandhurst in 2020.
The brand just released a Series II which constitutes a major improvement from the Series I. Notably, a refined case design, a more legible dial, and what seems to be a better construction (I didn’t handle the Series I but know people who handled both versions and their opinion leans toward better.) I feel that making a World War II-inspired field watch is no easy task since the design of these watches—the famed Dirty Dozen—was set in stone 80 years ago. While I will mention the Series I here and there, I will focus on the Series II and what makes it particularly interesting.
Christopher Ward has been continuously improving the design of its Light-catcher case over the past year. It was already good to begin with but the brand managed to make it better when it released the Aquitaine collection earlier this year. Christopher Ward added a third line in the middle of the case that separates the top from the bottom section. It’s not an actual line per se but more of an additional chamfer. Visually, it makes the case lines flow better and the watch looks thinner and flatter on the wrist. It’s a real joy to wear and look at, especially because the case espouses the contour of the wrist just right.
Besides its ingenious design, the Light-catcher case also comes with great dimensions: 38mm in diameter, 43.7mm lug-to-lug, 11.9mm thick and a 20mm lug width. It fits marvelously on my 6.25” (16cm) wrist and displays some outstanding finishing: polished chamfers on the top and bottom of the case and on the base of the fixed-bezel, and satin finish everywhere else. The brushed finish can also be found on the hands that match the overall aesthetic of the field watch. The Light-catcher case comes with aggressively short lugs that further contribute to the Sandhurst’s military appeal.
While the case-back displays the British Army’s deeply etched coat of arms, the front is equipped with a thick piece of domed sapphire crystal. The dial underneath the latter has a matte black texture, a railroad minute track with plots of aged lume at every hour, modern-looking Arabic numeral hour markers that are fully lumed, as well as the iconic brushed Arrow handset from Christopher Ward. That’s a lot of lume (see lume shot below) in that the hands, hour markers, and one-hour increments on the rail track are lumed. Christopher Ward spares no expenses, a fact that is further brought forward by the choice of the caliber within: a chronometer-certified Sellita SW-200.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
43.7mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Screwed Dow Crown & Caseback
150m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Box Sapphire Crystal|
Lumed Plot Markers on Outside of Dial
X1 Super-LumiNova on Hands and Markers
|Movement||Sellita SW200 COSC-certified|
38-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Choice: Steel Bracelet /w Milled Clasp|
Christopher Ward C65 Sandhurst Series II
It is indeed a difficult task to create a modern interpretation (and not re-interpretation) of a classic watch design. Christopher Ward could have gone the classic route of adding a sub-register for the running seconds at the 6 o’clock position like so many other brands have done in the past. Instead, it kept a simple three-hander dial layout that is classic and practical, especially given the fact that the Sandhurst was created for the British Armed forces. You know, the type of people who actually need to time something precisely unlike the rest of us simple mortals. Adding the CW Arrow handset makes reading the time easy, a key requirement for this type of watch.
Amongst all of the cheap knockoffs and re-creations of WWII field watches, we rarely see one that comes with a COSC movement. Going this route means Christopher Ward was adamant in creating a watch that can be used in real-life scenarios by real people wearing fatigues and shooting guns, as having a robust and precise movement aids in coordinating military operations. And for those of us who will never see a battlefield, it’s just simply cool to have a COSC movement. What’s more is that Christopher Ward doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for this, given that the Sandhurst II retails for $1,162 on a strap and $1,377 on a stainless bracelet that comes with a on-the-fly, micro-adjust clasp.
Yet it will seem that I’m adding a shameless plug for another perk the brand offers—although I don’t benefit from it—in that the watch comes with a 60 month guarantee on the movement and a 60-day free return policy. That is something rarely offered for a watch at this price point which increases the whole package value. If you do serve, I think this would make for an incredible case in itself.
I do not have quibbles against the Sandhurst Series II; however I wanted to share two quibbles others do have. I’m happy to relate these quibbles to you because I can see their point. As soon as I started posting photos of the Sandhurst on Instagram, fellow watch enthusiasts messaged me to say how sad they were that Christopher Ward went for the Arrow handset. The previous version had baton-style hands that appeared on previous CW models, albeit less commonly. Christopher Ward has been putting the Arrow handset on virtually all of its models, which is a shame for some fans of the brand who might not be fond of them.
I understand where they are coming from.
And I also understand where Christopher Ward is coming from. The brand wants to strengthen its visual identity in order to build brand equity amongst the ocean that is the independent watch market. So putting this handset on most—if not all—models is a way to accomplish this. The other quibble that has made its way to my ears relates to the typeface used for the Arabic numerals. The Series II has a more modern typeface compared to the Series I. While some lament this choice, I think it makes sense in the brand’s effort to create a modern interpretation of a WWII-era field watch instead of making something that looks old.
If you read this review it means you are into military watches and particularly into World War II-inspired timepieces. There are many options out there to satisfy your lust over these types of watches at prices that range $200 to several thousands of dollars. For many of us, what constitutes the horological sweet spot is the perfect balance between price, specifications, and finish. While you can get a $200 AliExpress field watch (which I have nothing against, by the way) you could get a $1,300 COSC-certified, solid, and elegant Christopher Ward Sandhurst Series II. Christopher has made a name for itself for offering great stuff at attainable prices, and the Sandhurst continues this tradition.
For more information, please visit the brand website.
Vincent Deschamps is a museum professional, originally from France, with more than 10 years experience as a researcher, producing visitor experiences for national and international organizations. He is also the founder of mainspring.watch. You can follow Vincent on Instagram.
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