All-carbon, all innovation – the new C63 Colchester is a fitting tribute to the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, and a stand-out addition to our Military Collection
Colchester has history.
Out on the Essex plains, looking out to sea from the banks of the River Colne, there’s been a military presence in the town since Roman times, when the Legio XX Valeria Victrix set up a garrison here. In the Napoleonic wars, the Colchester Garrison was a base for 7,000 troops, and ever since, various British Army regiments have made it their home. Today, the garrison is the base of one of the most respected fighting forces in the world, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Parachute Regiment.
Founded in 1942 (as the 1st Parachute Battalion), the Paras played a leading role in missions like Operation Market Garden and the Battle Of Arnhem. Since the end of World War II, they’ve been deployed everywhere from Cyprus and Suez to Iraq, Afghanistan and – most famously of all – the Falkland Islands. As the regiment says: “Paratroopers are trained to conduct a range of missions, from prevention and preemption tasks to complex, high-intensity war-fighting. Watchwords are professionalism, resilience, discipline, versatility, courage and self-reliance.”
So when Christopher Ward was looking for inspiration in its next Military Collection watch, the Paras seemed the obvious choice. But a choice that couldn’t be taken lightly. Not for nothing is the Para’s motto: Utrinque Paratus –
’Ready for anything’.
The watch head weighs just
38g – the lightest sports watch Christopher Ward has ever released
“The quality of the watch reflects the professionalism and excellence of the 21st century Paras” – Mike France
Nearly a year after the Christopher Ward team began working with the Paras, the watch is here – and it’s a beauty. To say the new C63 Colchester is ’ready for anything’ is an understatement: this is a precision timing device that brings innovative construction techniques and materials together with elite Swiss watchmaking. In short, a watch that does the Paras justice. “The C63 Colchester could be the most sophisticated watch we’ve ever made,” says Mike France, Christopher Ward CEO and co-founder. “When they’re jumping out of a plane, the Paras need kit that’s strong and light.
That’s why we chose the C63 Sealander Elite as the template for the C63 Colchester. It struck both us and the regiment that weight, durability, strength, comfort and technicality were critical. And the Elite delivered all that.” But make no mistake, the stunning C63 Colchester is very much its own watch. Its case is made from injected carbon and is the lightest CW case so far. The dial is constructed from forged carbon – a substance that’s both super-light and ultra-tough and which has a camouflage look perfect for a Forces watch. The watch head weighs just 38g – the lightest sports watch Christopher Ward has ever released.
Another first is the retractable crown. Debuting on the C63 Sealander Elite, it’s now making its first appearance in the Military Collection. Something that adds extra comfort and won’t interrupt the graceful lines of the 41mm case. “It was a bit tricky to nail the water-resistance with the carbon case and retractable crown,” says CW’s head of product Adrian Buchmann. “But we got there in the end. And the great thing with carbon is that if you scratch it, it stays black – so always looks smart.”
While the construction and materials are something to celebrate, it’s the subtle design touches that strengthen the bond between it and the Paras. Will Brackfield, designer at Christopher Ward, says: “We added the ‘landing’ crosshairs on the dial because they chime with the history of the Parachute Regiment and look pleasingly retro. Then there’s the maroon second hand which reflects the prized maroon beret of the Paras. Alongside the chamfered indexes and ’Trident’ hands – filled with Super-LumiNova® C1 Grade X1 GL – it’s a wonder to behold.”
Like other watches in the Military Collection, you can find the regiment’s badge on the watch’s underside. Though with one crucial – and innovative – difference. “We wanted to integrate the crest while keeping the display back of the watch,” says Will Brackfied. “That’s been achieved with the addition of a ‘coin’ that rests on top of the exhibition back. And you’ll be able to see through the watch via the open ‘lozenges’ on the dial, too.” A watch this technically advanced in its construction deserves a movement that’s both ultra-accurate and able to ride out any knocks it may encounter. “We chose a COSC-certified version of the Sellita SW200,” says Adrian Buchmann. “It’s a 28,800bhz calibre, which gives the seconds hand a smooth sweep – and lets you monitor fractions of a second using the inner-seconds track around the dial.”
For Mike France, it all adds up to a watch that continues Christopher Ward’s tradition of paying tribute to ‘the best of the best’ from the UK Armed Forces. “We shared our ideas with the Paras from the outset, and they were instrumental in helping us get the details right,” he says. “It was a huge relief they loved the direction we were taking the watch– and especially its high specifications. To me, the quality of the watch reflects the professionalism and excellence of the 21st century Paras.”
A further tribute to the Paras comes in the shape of #tide strap. Not only is it the same shade of maroon you’ll find on the famous beret, but its design is inspired by the Paras’ belt. Made from recycled ocean plastic, it’s tougher yet more lustrous than a regular NATO. “There’s just no comparison,” says Mike France. “Unlike a NATO, the #tide doesn’t make the watch sit high on your wrist, and because it’s fitted with our quick-release system you can swap it in seconds.”
Brought together, the fusion of elevated Swiss engineering, extensive material experimentation and sensitive military styling is not just a fitting tribute to one of the most admired regiments in the world but a sign of Christopher Ward’s ambition and pride in the best of Britain. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t make sense is the price: just £995 for a watch that if it was made by a venerable Swiss brand would be priced many times that. But this, like the ethos behind the watch and the Paras themselves, is another sign the British like to do things differently. Ready to make the leap?
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