Why the late 1960s were the golden age of dive watches – and how they’ve influenced the new C65 Trident Automatic
Goldfinger, the 1964 James Bond film starring Sean Connery, is the ultimate watch-lovers movie. It’s got the lot: Connery at his brooding best; an Aston Martin DB5 that not only looks the business but also has an ejector seat; and of course, 007’s Rolex Submariner (Ref: 6358), attached to a textile NATO strap.
Not only does this watch look great with Bond’s white tuxedo, but it also signifies something else: the impact of technological advancements on watch design.
If the period between the 1930-1950s is the golden age of dress timepieces, so the late ’60s are the apex of ‘tool’ watches. These are watches designed, not only to tell the time, but to use it as an instrument of measurement, whether at the track or under the waves. Mike France, co-founder of Christopher Ward, explains.
“Many of the most iconic watches from major brands were at their best in the 1960s,” says Mike. “These include the Breitling Navitimer in 40mm. Enicar’s dual-crown Sherpa model, the Yachtingraf from Yema, and Tag’s stunning Autavia. This is the time when sport watches shined.”
Add this functionality to the boundary-breaking ethos in art, fashion and music of the period, and you’re looking at a range of watches that are not only highly technical, but laden with era-defining design touches (like multicoloured hands; wide or square cases). These take the wearer back to the days of Steve McQueen, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol.
This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed at 1 Park Street, home of Christopher Ward. The first sign that designer Adrian Buchman was looking to the early ’60s for inspiration was the C65 Trident Diver, a hand-wound retro piece that’s been a hit since it was released.
Now a new model has launched: a diving watch with design touches and construction cues from from the late 1960s. It’s called the C65 Trident Automatic.
“Dive watches of this era allowed the development of scuba diving for the masses,” says Mike France. “They weren’t as technically advanced as today’s watches, but set previously unheard-of standards of water-resistance. Another innovation was the Super Compressor case, manufactured by EPSA, which became more water-resistant the further down it went.”
While engineering innovations improved performance, the complications used on these watches were relatively simple. For divers, the most important tool was the countdown function of the external or internal bezel, alongside the improved legibility that came with improvements in dial design and luminosity.
The designer of the Christopher Ward’s C65 Trident Automatic is Adrian Buchmann. Too young to remember the late 1960s, he nevertheless studied the icons of the era to come up with a watch that immediately recalls classics from Rolex, Omega and Blancpain.
“The Sub is, of course, an iconic design, and few dive watches – even famous ones like Omega’s Seamaster – escape its influence,” Adrian says. “But we also enjoyed taking this route because people like our vintage lume so much, and we wanted to give them more of it.”
One noticeable difference between the Automatic and Diver are the dots which take the place of the bars on the latter, something that softens and lightens the look, increasing its legibility. And while the dots reference classic divers, this is very much its own watch.
“Obvious design elements as Rolex’s triangle at 12 o’clock have been avoided,” says Adrian. “We’ve taken an iconic design and refined it in a very Christopher Ward way, one that makes it a little more dressy and less sporty. It’s at home in any situation.”
So whether you’re planning to spend the summer exploring the shipwrecks of the West Indies or just sipping a cold beer as you watch the waves lap against the sand, the C65 Trident Automatic will ensure you’re never shaken. Though perhaps occasionally stirred.