There is something romantic about a good GMT. Since the issue of the Rolex GMT-Master, authorized by Pan Am Airlines in 1954, these timepieces have graced the wrists of pilots and travelers, alike. Of course, the original commission served a purpose—to accurately track local time alongside Greenwhich Mean Time (the universal coordinated time for pilots) and prevent confusion in the skies. But now they have become a kind of calling card for everyday adventure.
The Aquitaine GMT from Christopher Ward harkens back to those halcyon days of globetrotting with its retro styling but throws in a few twists to separate it from the flock.
If you are anything like me, the first thing you will notice about the Aquitaine GMT is its curved box sapphire crystal. Sitting high above an equally beautiful sapphire bezel, it dominates the design. The vintage styling references dive watches from the 50s—particularly the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms—but follows that up with contemporary construction. Through the dome, we get a birds-eye view of an immaculately constructed dial. Tall circular plots and triangular shafts rimmed in polished steel govern the hour index and are surrounded by a highly legible minute track printed on the chapter ring. The tell-tale sword and arrow handset that has come to define so much of Christopher Ward’s work is there, as well. The lollipop seconds hand mirrors the hour markers in design, and the blue-tipped GMT hand is colour-matched with the bezel. In all, it is a sophisticated and unified expression.
The watch is practically doused in lume, as well. The Super-LumiNova X-1 Old Radium is so strong, it threatens to flag down passing aircraft. Among its other modern considerations are the screw-down, exhibition case back and the similarly engineered crown, which sports a Dry Marshall—or red-coloured ring that lets you know if the crown is sufficiently tightened, so that you can test out the watch’s 200m of water resistance.
Beneath the dial beats the 4Hz SW330-2 from Sellita. Christopher Ward use the same calibre in Sealander GMT and the latest iterations of the C65s. The movement is a caller, or office, GMT—meaning that it does not have a jumping-hour hand. It sports the brand’s twin-flag engraving over a colimaçoné finish on the rotor, visible through the display case back. It is also a relatively slender calibre, allowing the case to come in at 12.7mm, despite the watch’s dive capabilities and GMT functionality.
In fact, what Christopher Ward refer to as their Light-Catcher case, with its multiple chamfers and planes, visually reduces the case thickness even further. When on wrist—due to its angled lugs and posterior beveling—the effect is heightened. In reality, the watch is 41mm in diameter, but its short lug to lug of only 46.7mm, makes it feel like a smaller watch, overall. The finish is a mix of polish and brushing, with a finely knurled crown and coin-edge teething on the bezel.
The White Sand reference featured here comes on a 22m leather strap; however, it is also available on a sharply tapered stainless steel bracelet with screw links a milled clasp. There is also an Orca Black model.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
46.7mm Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
24-Hour Bidirectional Bezel
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire /w AR Undercoating|
Sword and Arrow Handset
Date Complication @ 6
X-1 Old Radium Super-LumiNova
|Movement||Sellita SW330-2 GMT|
56-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Full Grain Leather Strap|
or Stainless Steel Bracelet
Christopher Ward Aquitaine GMT
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The Light–Catcher used in a number of Christopher Ward models has been in constant evolution since 2014. Despite the retro-styling of the Aquitaine GMT, and its attention-grabbing dome and bezel combination, the Light-Catcher case remains a design high point. The case has undergone various iterations since its inception, and has now featured in its C1, C3, C60 and C65 collections. Of course, the complexity of the case construction, rather than ubiquitous slab-sided construction, comes at a cost. However, it has also become a signature of the brand. Its architectural design of multiple planes with a combination of alternately polished and brushed surfaces, does indeed “catch” light, but it also provides a sense of movement and dynamism you might find in automobile design. As mentioned earlier, the combined effect can also hide the watch’s true dimensions. Christopher Ward watches are designed in England and made in Switzerland.
It’s a small one, but I don’t like the fractional marker beneath the date window in the six position.
With its liquid blue sapphire bezel and creamy white sand dial, the vintage-led Aquitaine GMT reminds me of the Austin-Healey 100M. Like the early sports car, the Aquitaine is lovely blend of sumptuous curves and aerodynamic lines. It also has a solid movement under the hood. The definition in the dial is razor sharp. The case is a wonder. At its current price point, the watch is swinging well above its weight class and landing each blow. It you are looking for a retro-styled GMT outside the traditional pop-can and super-hero themed colour schemes to satisfy your inner traveler, perhaps you should take one for a spin.
The Aquitaine GMT starts at $1350USD on leather. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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4 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Christopher Ward Aquitaine GMT”
Dead to rights on this review Robi along with a great comparison to a true vintage classic 100M Austin Healey, color matching too… Bravo 👏🏼. I think what impresses me most about CW is where they started and the leaps and bounds forward over the last two years. I think the fact that they chose to work with Sellita who was more than willing to do modifications to the movements has been a great game changer. I think you might see an affordable alarm movement coming soon… Something similar to the old Seiko BellMatic 4006 series… Just a hunch😁
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I think you might have an inside track😉
Love the dune-inspired colour theme!!
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Spectacular lume on the Aquitane GMT. Especially on the inner side of the bezel.
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