TITANIUM TAKES THE PRESSURE

Titanium was named after the Titans, a group of powerful and immortal gods in classical mythology. One of their number was Oceanus, who was believed by the Greeks and Romans to be the divine personification of an enormous river that encircled the world on the line of the equator.

It is fitting, therefore, that the cases for the finest diver’s watches are made of this remarkable element, which in its metallic form is resistant to corrosion (especially in salt water) and boasts the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal. The striking C11 Titanium Elite Chronometer is the first Christopher Ward watch to have a titanium case.

Modelled on the C11 Makaira Pro 500, which was introduced to instant acclaim in autumn 2012, the Elite, as its name suggests, has been upgraded in several ways. Apart from the super-strong and lightweight titanium case, it has a COSC certified Eta 2824-2 automatic movement. Keeping all the good looks of the Pro 500, it also has an internal countdown bezel especially arranged for diving and, with safety in mind, a sophisticated helium release valve for professional use.

Charles Hood, a reviewer for Scuba magazine, likes what he sees. After taking the watch on a dive (see opposite page) he wrote; «We think the design is simply gorgeous, with echoes of the classic Panerai models and the Bell and Ross aviator instruments. This watch oozes class, and while it is one of the more expensive pieces from the Christopher Ward range, the pricing is reasonable. This is a piece that most divers could consider for a long-term investment, and we think it’s one of most beautiful watches you can buy at any price.”

Good looks and technical innovation are what this watch is all about. The C11 Titanium Elite is the second diver’s watch from Christopher Ward to use a helium release, or helium escape valve, which is a necessary component on every professional diver’s watch. When operating at great depths, commercial divers often spend many hours in diving bells under pressure breathing a gas mix that contains helium. As helium molecules are the second smallest in nature, the gas can penetrate the watch around the O-rings or other seals.

As long as the diver stays under pressure, there is no problem, but if decompression stops during resurfacing are not long enough, a pressure difference builds up between the helium in the watch and the environment. Too much pressure will damage the watch severely. With a helium release valve, when this differential reaches a critical level, the oneway valve is activated and the gas escapes from the case.

The helium release valve on the Titanium Elite is manufactured by FIMM, the Swiss experts in this specialist field. The method for releasing the helium is fully automatic, allowing gas to escape as it expands during ascent but not allowing water to ingress.

Even if you are not a saturation diver, the crown of the valve makes an already impressive watch look even more striking.

One final word about titanium, which was discovered in Cornwall in 1791 by William Gregor, a clergyman and an amateur geologist: among its many other attributes, it is resistant to dents (useful when knocking against underwater rocks) and it is also inert, making it a very safe option for anyone with allergies or sensitive skin, in or out of the water.

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