In 1940, the British Army's Parachute Regiment was formed. With their iconic red berets, the Paras fought valiantly during Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem. Since WWII, the Paras have etched themselves into military history with campaigns like Cypress, Suez, the Falkland Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. As a tribute to the famous regiment, and with the approval of the British Ministry of Defence and the Paras themselves, watchmaker Christopher Ward designed the C63 Colchester.
Located in Essex County, eastern England, Colchester, Garrison has been an important military installation since the time of the Roman Empire. In AD 43, Legio XX Valeria Victrix established the first permanent military garrison in Colchester. The town continued to serve as an important garrison during the Napoleonic Wars and through the Victorian era. Today, Colchester serves as the home of the Parachute Regiment. The Regiment's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th battalions comprise the parachute infantry element of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army's rapid response formation. However, the elite 1st Battalion falls under Special Forces Support Group and is commanded by UK Special Forces.
The motto of the Paras is "Ultrinque Paratus," Latin for, "Ready for anything." In order to live up to the Regiment's motto, Christopher Ward had to make a tough, lightweight and reliable watch. To make the C63 Colchester, Christopher Ward started with their C63 Sealander Elite as a template. Evolving the Sealander into the Colchester, Christopher Ward crafts the watch case with injected carbon and the dial from forged carbon. Ultra-tough and lightweight, with the 41mm watch head weighing just 38g, the Colchester is an ideal mechanical watch for parachute operations. A feature of the Sealander that carried over to the Colchester is the retractable crown. By recessing the crown flush with the case, the Colchester is both 150m water-resistant and snag-resistant.
Christopher Ward prides itself as a brand that is, "ingeniously English" and "unsurprisingly Swiss." All of their watches are handmade in Switzerland. In order to bear the coveted "Swiss Made" mark, the Colchester is powered by a 26-jewel, Swiss-made Sellita SW200 automatic movement with a power reserve of 38 hours. Moreover, the movement is officially certified as a chronometer by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres. To achieve this designation, the movement was tested in a variety of positions and temperatures and yielded a timing tolerance of just -4/+6 seconds per day.
While the movement is partially visible via a see-through caseback, it is mostly obscured by a coin stamped with the Para badge. Approved by the Parachute Regiment and the MOD, the Colchester proudly features the unit's emblem of a parachute on wings, a crown, and a crowned lion. Paying further tribute to the Paras, the Colchester's 45g, 22mm NATO-style strap is the same maroon color as the Paras' beret and is inspired by the Paras' regimental belt. Made from recycled ocean plastic, the strap also features quick-change spring bars that allow the user to remove it in just seconds.
The Colchester features an aged chapter ring with minute marking and a date window at the six o'clock position. The hour markers match the tridents' hands, all of which are filled with Super-LumiNova® C1 Grade X1 GL. At 12 o'clock, a double marker allows for easy orientation and reading in complete darkness. A maroon second hand and landing crosshair on the dial continue the Colchester's Para theming. The watch sells for $1,325.00 and is available now from Christopher Ward.