Disclaimer: This watch was sent to me on loan to review and I was not incentivized in any way to make this review. This is in no way sponsored by Christopher Ward or any other entity. All opinions here are my own.
C63 Sealander GMT
If you ask me to name three of my favorite brands in the $1000 range, Christopher Ward will definitely be one of them. The value for money being delivered is often impossible to beat, and their build quality and attention to detail is entirely capable of competing with a lot watches that cost at least 2-3x more. They recently released a new line-up of watches, called the Sealander series, which falls into the broad category of “Go Anywhere, Do Anything” Sports watches. And while this term is being overused, I’m a sucker for this style of watch.
I requested to review the C63 Sealander GMT, and was loaned the black dial variant on a leather strap. This watch retails at $950 USD, but there’s almost always a $125 discount coupon, which will bring this price down to around $825.
Before we get into this review, I’d like to get something off my chest – this watch pays homage to the Rolex Explorer-2, and that is without question. But the word homage has been destroyed and misrepresented by the watch community, to the point where rebranded clones and fakes are unfairly associated with the word. This is not one of those watches, and carries plenty of Christopher Ward‘s own DNA, while drawing influence clearly and directly from the Rolex Explorer-2. So to put this into the same bucket as a Pagani Explorer-2 clone would be unfair, and a more appropriate comparison would be the Grand Seiko SBGN003.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the C63 Sealander GMT!
I measured the case to be 39 mm in diameter, 45 mm from lug-to-lug and 12 mm in height. By now, you must all now what a Halios fanboy I am, but one aspect that sets Christopher Ward apart from Halios is case finishing. The finishing on this watch is outstanding for the money, and puts a lot of much more expensive watches to shame.
The mid-case extends into a pair of gently curved down lugs that are relatively short and have beautifully polished edges. The light catcher case designs are exceptional, both from a design and execution perspective.
You have a fixed bezel section made entirely out of stainless steel, with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. The numerals and circular markers are engraved into the bezel and filled with black paint. This 24-hour GMT bezel design is one of the more direct cues borrowed from the Rolex Explorer-2, even though I believe the Glycine Airman was the first to introduce the 24-hour GMT bezel.
The bezel seats a flat sapphire crystal with a beveled edge. The crystal sits a fraction of a millimeter above the bezel, but doesn’t have any distortion.
There is a 5.75 mm screw-down crown at the 3 o’clock position that is very easy to grip and operate given it’s well designed ridges. The crown has the brand’s logo cut into the top.
I love the crown guard design and I think it looks fantastic with the combination of polished and brushed surfaces, and the proportions make it easy to navigate as well. Great job here!
Flipping it over, you have a screw-down case-back with an exhibition window. This watch is rated for up-to 150m of water resistance.
This watch is offered in two dial colors – black and white, similar to the Rolex Explorer-2. But apart from the color scheme and the orange GMT hand, the actual dial elements are pretty much representative of the Christopher Ward design language.
You have a printed outer minute track, with small Arabic numerals for each increment of five along with a small orange accent, and white ticks for the remaining markers. I like this functional design element, and it makes the watch just a bit more like a tool watch, in my opinion.
You then have applied indices for all the hour markers, which are polished and brushed stainless steel with beautiful facets and deep lume filled sections. The 12 o’clock index is represented by a double index, and there’s a stunted index at the 6 o’clock position.
There is a date window at the 6 o’clock position, which is just the way I like it. It isn’t framed, but perfectly blends into the dial with a color and finish matched date wheel. Great stuff here, and this date window couldn’t have been better executed.
The brand’s name is printed under the 12 o’clock index, and there’s some text above the date window as well. The printing is perfectly aligned this time around, and the quality of printing is excellent, as usual.
The handset is true to Christopher Ward‘s design language, with a large arrow head hour hand and a well proportioned minute hand, both combining brushed center sections with polished sides. There is a painted GMT hand with a black base and an orange arrow head tip.
In true Christopher Ward fashion, you have a trident counter-weight on the seconds hand, and this hand extends all the way up to the seconds track, with a painted and lumed orange tip. I like the dial design, and I think they’ve done a great job adding their own DNA to this design.
The lume on this watch is excellent, and all the lumed elements are Grade X1 BL C1 Super LumiNova. The indices have large lume filled sections that glow bright and hold their charge very well. The double indices at the 12 o’clock and stunted index at the 6 o’clock help orient the watch in the dark, and the legibility is excellent.
The hour hand, minute hand and GMT hand have large lumed sections and glow bright. I would’ve liked to see the GMT hand be lumed with a different color, like on the Limes Endurance GMT, but that’s a non-issue and really just a design preference.
The size of the hand and proximity to the edge of the dial makes it easily distinguishable from the regular hour hand. The seconds hand has a painted lumed tip, but that isn’t very bright and is easily overshadowed by the rest of the bright elements.
The movement is one of the best aspects of this watch for me. I’m not sure if I’m just imagining it, because I’ve only had 2-3 experiences with the Sellita SW330-1, but this SW330-2 feels a lot better to operate. The manual winding action is brilliant, and feels like a watch that costs a lot more money. Christopher Ward has done a great job with the crown and stem, and even the crown screws into the crown tube very effortlessly.
Christopher Ward is also perhaps one of the earliest adopters of this upgraded movement. I do know that some folks had issues with the GMT hand drifting a bit over time, and Christopher Ward says that this has been rectified on the new movement. I will say that the GMT hand action feels a bit more robust than the SW330-1, and I’m a fan of the overall experience.
On my time-grapher, I measured roughly +9 spd in the dial up position and roughly +7 spd in the crown up position.
On The Wrist
I’ve tried on the modern 42mm Rolex Explorer-2 and I was honestly not a huge fan of how it wore on my 6.25″ wrists. I much prefer the older 40mm Explorer-2 where proportions are concerned. This watch feels a lot closer to the 40mm Explorer-2 in terms of proportions and comfort, with it’s 39mm diameter and 45mm lug-to-lug width.
This watch doesn’t feel as sleek as the C65 Dartmouth, but the 12 mm is very manageable on the wrist and I’m sure feels even more comfortable with their metal bracelets, which I would highly recommend.
The leather strap is of pretty good quality, but I don’t think the tool watch nature of the case and dial design is properly conveyed on leather, and I much prefer this watch on rubber or fabric, if the steel bracelet isn’t an option for you.
This is the third Christopher Ward watch that I’ve reviewed on this channel, and I’m no less impressed with every passing release. In fact, I think they’re getting better with each iteration, and they’re most certainly listening to their audience and are adapting very quickly. This is why Christopher Ward is one of my favorite brands in the $750-$1250 price category, and I think they make watches that are impossible to beat where value for money is concerned.
To wrap this up – I’ve heard people say this watch is a blatant ripoff of the Rolex Explorer-2, and I think that is unfair. This watch is an homage to the Explorer-2 in the truest sense of the word homage. Similar to how the C65 Dartmouth took a lot of styling cues from the Omega SM300 and figured out a way to integrate that into their own style, the C63 Sealander GMT does the same with the Rolex Explorer-2 style, and manages to preserve it’s own identity while paying respect to the Explorer-2. There isn’t any doubt that this watch wouldn’t exist without the Explorer-2, but this isn’t in the same playing field as some of the rebranding clones and fakes coming out of China that get incorrectly branded as ‘homage’ watches.
I can’t say enough nice things about this particular piece. If the design styling is to your liking, and if you’re looking for a GMT watch, you are unlikely to find something better than this. I would buy this one over the Lorier GMT and Baltic GMT without hesitation, and would pick this over the Frederique Constant GMT I bought and reviewed a while ago too.
Thanks for reading!