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Will Satch

In the run-up to Christmas, we caught up with six people close to the brand to find out how they’ll be spending the holidays. Then the team got together to nominate the current CW model they feel would best suit each as a Christmas present. Next up, Olympic gold medal winning rower Will Satch MBE…

What’s the last thing you fancy doing on Christmas Day? We’d say wild swimming would have to be quite high up on our list, but not so with rower Will Satch – Olympic gold and bronze medallist, and winner of three successive World Championships – who ‘enjoys’, if that’s the right word, a most unappealing winter tradition: he and a friend jump in the river. The guys grew up in Henley-on-Thames, and Will’s friends parents still live halfway up the Henley stretch, so they get out there nice and early and just leap right in. “I’d like to say it’s a Christmas Day swim, but it’s not really,” Will says. “I mean, you jump in, swim halfway to the other side, and – as it’s a bit cold – you swim right back and climb out. No wetsuits or anything, obviously, but at least it makes you feel like you’ve done something with your day.”

In recent years Will’s friend’s dad has also started joining in – “and he’s in his seventies,” Will says – but Will generally doesn’t have quite such a gang with him when he takes his traditional second dip on Boxing Day. “Mum, my sister Joanna and I take the Jack Russell, Nesbit, up Minty’s Hill, which overlooks Henley and the river, or down to West Wittering. Wherever we go, we have a walk and a picnic – which is a bit unorthodox too, I guess, but it’s just something we do. And if we’re at West Wittering, I normally jump in the sea there as well! It’s horrible, because you’re so cosy warm, all wrapped up, but doing it makes me feel so much better and fresher.”


Basically I plan to row through the early winter, have a massive scran at the girlfriends’ at Christmas, properly switch off – but not get too fat! – then really fire it up in the New Year. There’s an intense six months ahead, but before I know it, they’ll be gone.”

Will Satch

Will trains in the first part of winter, right up until December 23, along with some club racing – Will rows for Leander Club, on the edge of his home town – but as this is an Olympic Year, more time is spent trying to make sure you’re selected for the Tokyo 2020 team than actual racing. “It’s all very monotonous, actually,” Will says, “and can be quite clinical and cutthroat. But then the camaraderie you build afterwards, once you’ve got your boat and know you’re going to Japan, is really special.” Training resumes in January, when there are rather fewer freezing cold dips – the rowing team spends most of the month at a training camp in South Africa, cross training and riding mountain bikes.

During the Christmas break, Will splits his time between his own small family – mum, Joanna and dog – and his girlfriend’s house, where her mother puts on an excellent spread. Joanna’s a vegan, who mostly lives in a commune in Falmouth – “very environmentally minded,” Will says – so you get the impression he thinks he’ll get a little better fed at his girlfriend’s. “The thing I’ve always really wanted to do, though, is go skiing over Christmas,” he says, “but it’s against our contracts in case we injure ourselves. As soon as the rowing is over, I’m definitely doing a season.”


Will Satch winning gold in Rio

Will’s best ever Christmas presents – the ones that really stand out in his memory, anyway – are the new bikes he got each year. “Mum would save up and save up and buy me one each Christmas,” he says, “and I’d go right through them, because I’d basically pound each one constantly – after a year of that she had no choice but to replace it. Nothing has really beaten that since, and especially now, as all I seem to ask for is kitchen utensils and interior bits!”

Will’s lucky enough to own a well-chosen selection of Christopher Ward watches, and they all have their own specific role. “The C8 UTC Worldtimer is the one I wear to training and use day-to-day,” he says, “whereas the C1 Grand Malvern Jumping Hour is more for going out. It’s a bit ‘black tie’, and what I wore to Buckingham Palace. My favourite, though, is the one I got last year, the C9 Me 109 SPC. It’s a single-pusher chronograph, limited to just 100 pieces, and absolutely beautiful. I love it.”


It seems safe to say it’s the Worldtimer, though, that will accompany Will through what promises to be quite a gruelling winter, full of tough training (not least as he suffered a major tendon injury last winter) and plenty of work getting himself into the right place mentally, too. “I need to be more positive,” he says. “I need to take confidence from everything I’ve done in the past, and realise there’s no reason why I can’t be the best again. So the biggest things this winter will be getting that sorted, getting my top end fitness back, and building that aerobic base – before Christmas in Sierra Nevada and after Christmas in South Africa. Basically I plan to row through the early winter, have a massive scran at the girlfriends’ at Christmas, properly switch off – but not get too fat! – then really fire it up in the New Year. There’s an intense six months ahead, but before I know it, they’ll be gone.”


C60 Abyss

As someone competing in his first Olympic Games – even more poignantly, at a venue just a few miles away from where he grew up – Will Satch’s bronze medal in the coxless pair at London 2012 was a dream come true. As someone who had only started to row at age 17, that medal – to be followed by a gold at Rio 2016 – validated all those early mornings, 10k ergo sessions and more. While on the subject of dark horses, it seemed appropriate that the stealthy C60 Abyss should complement Will and his water-based achievements!

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5% of the proceeds of this watch will be donated to the Blue Marine Foundation charity