Rado’s high-tech ceramic True Thinline Collection, first seen in 2011, this month debuts the Great Gardens of the World collection with three models featuring dial designs meant to recall natural beauty.
The idea for the collection took root in 2017 when Rado partnered with Grandi Giardini Italiani, an association of 300 Italian and Maltese gardens. At that time Rado debuted a trio of True Thinline quartz watches with beautifully colored and patterned dials meant to represent earth, water and leaves.
Rado now extends that idea with three more of the sleek 40mm ceramic and titanium watches, each sporting an artisanal dial and powered by an automatic movement.
One model, called Chapter 1, sports a turquoise-colored ceramic case and bracelet and offers a matching mother-of-pearl dial. Rado decorates the dial with filigree and cloisonné-style organic elements and nature-inspired themes, including jasmine flowers. Diamonds mark each hour, while on the back you’ll find the phrase “Great Gardens of the World,” printed on a smoky sapphire and titanium caseback.
The second model, called Chapter 2, offers a similar pattern but on a black ceramic case with a dark, matching mother-of-pearl dial. Again, diamonds mark the hours.
The Chapter 3 watch presents a more sophisticated small central dial framed by an engraved oak leaf pattern in its mother-of-pearl and a ring of additional diamonds.
All this natural beauty arrives alongside Rado’s pioneering mastery of the ceramic case and bracelet technology, here all sporting richly colored and polished high-tech finishes. Rado builds each watch with a ceramic case, ceramic bracelet and crown, a titanium caseback (framing a sapphire center) and a titanium tri-fold clasp.
As noted, these Rado True Thinline models sport automatic movements. Inside Rado places the ETA-based Rado caliber R763 automatic movement with an impressive 80-hour power reserve and an anti-magnetic Nivachron hairspring, which Rado says exceeds standard test requirements from three to five positions.
Prices: $2,450 (Chapters 1 and 2), and $2,660 (Chapter 3).
Watch companies have been collaborating with artists and designers for years, producing animated timekeepers with distinctive, non-traditional dials, eye-catching engravings and even unusual case finishes.
Brands as diverse as Hermès and G-Shock tout their artistic connections with special editions that typically offer playful, aesthetic variations to well-known collections. The partnerships take many forms, from one-off fund-raisers for charities to long-term collaborations that morph into full-fledged new collections.
Let’s take a look at a few of the latest watch-artist collaborations we’ve seen.
Hublot and Orlinski
This artistic collaboration represents one of Hublot’s most successful, with multiple editions of Hublot’s Classic Fusion Orlinski reaching collectors of both Hublot watches and Pop Art, Orlinski’s domain.
Casual and serious art observers are aware of Richard Orlinski’s brightly colored beasts, including his “Wild Kong” gorilla sculpture in Cannes and his crocodiles in Miami. He and Hublot have teamed on their successful series of angular designs with light-reflecting faceted sapphire crystals for several years.
Just recently, Hublot released a new white-themed Classic Fusion Orlinski series – with gold and diamonds – just in time for the holiday season.
These are 40mm King gold or titanium models, with and without diamond pave bezels and lugs, all attached to a white rubber strap. Prices start at $11,500.
Movado and Lubomirski
Movado has teamed with Alexi Lubomirski for its newest Artist Series dials. The photographer provided Movado with four photographs (Light, Water, Illumination and City Scenes) that will grace the dials of the Movado Museum dial with vegan straps in dark grey, yellow and navy blue.
Each steel 40mm watch ($595) also comes with a vegan reusable watch pouch and packaging made from recyclable materials.
A portion of proceeds from all watches sold (at Movado.com) will be donated to Alexi’s preferred charities Concern Worldwide and the Humane Society of America. Another collection with Lubomirski is expected for Spring 2021.
Rado Designer Series
Rado has released special designer watches for 2020, the latest releases from an annual tradition for the high-tech watchmaker known for its ceramic cases and bracelets and its contemporary design focus.
Rado is working within its True Square collection to offer three models designed in collaboration with the Italian duo FormaFantasma, the British designer Tej Chauhan and Japanese duo YOY. All three have used the automatic True Square Collection as their Swiss watch canvas.
The Rado True Square Formafantasma brings us a partially enclosed dial that refers to pocket watches with protective cases.
The Japanese design duo YOY offers a contemporary interpretation with the True Square Undigital. YOY shows only analog hands within the shape of a typical digital, possibly smart dial.
Award-winning British industrial designer Tej Chauhan brings us flowing shapes, high-tech ceramic and bold colors to evoke “futuristic visions of pop culture.”
Prices for the Rado True Square design collaborations: $1,800 (TrueSquareTejChauhan), $2,550 (True SquareFormaFantasma) and $2,350 (True Square YOY).
Ateliers deMonaco and Luca Stradivari
Produced in partnership with the architect and designer Luca Stradivari, a direct descendant of famed luthier Antonio Stradivari, Atelier deMonaco launches its Admiral Chronographe Flyback Stradivari, available in four limited editions of eighty-eight pieces (steel, rose gold, white gold and yellow gold).
The 42mm flyback chronograph displays a dreamlike dial where elegant hands pass over matching markers and the autograph of the architect and designer.The caseback shows the in-house dMc-760 Calibre, an eye-catching movement beautifully finished with intricate circular satin finishing, perlage, Côtes de Genève and chamfering. Price: CHF 18,000 (approximately $19,600.)
The Rado True Thinline collection might just be the most authentic Rado collection. With its thin ceramic case offered in a vast selection of colors and with automatic and quartz offerings, True Thinline most differentiates Rado from most other historic Swiss watchmakers.
The collection, along with many other Rado’ offerings, clearly exhibit Rado’s long-established mastery of high-tech case and bracelet materials.
The company is one of only a few of its Swiss watchmaking peers to even venture into making cases with high-tech plasma ceramics, tungsten, diamond alloys and hard metals, all materials Rado routinely incorporates into its offerings.
As a result, Rado watches, whether sporty chronographs or thin artisanal models, are invariably lighter in weight and far more scratch resistant than comparable watches made using traditional case and bracelet materials.
With this latest watch, the True Thinline Anima, Rado combines a partially open-worked automatic movement with a thin ceramic case.
Even among the Thinline models this latest example distinguishes itself thanks to its one-piece dark olive green case and matte green carbon-fiber dial ring.
That dial ring frames both the partially exposed movement and the openwork dial. Most directly visible is the date disc/ring, which is entirely visible as its makes its monthly rotation just inside the bezel, framed to exhibit the correct day at 6 o’clock. To maintain a lightweight profile, Rado uses a specially made aluminum ETA automatic movement with black bridges and black DLC-coated rotor.
Rado will make 2,020 True Thinline Anima watches, each priced $3,000.
Movement:A31.L02 ETA automatic, date at 6 o’clock, skeletonized calendar disc, 64-hour power reserve, aluminum movement with black bridges and black DLC-coated rotor
Case: 40mmx 44.8mm x 10.8mm matte olive green high-tech ceramic case, monobloc construction, titanium caseback with sapphire crystal, matte olive green high-tech ceramic crown, box sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides, water resistant to 30 meters. Engraving on the case back: LIMITED EDITION ONE OUT OF 2020
Dial: Skeletonized matte olive green with olive green flange, carbon fiber structure, rhodium colored hands and applied indexes and moving anchor symbol, white printed ‘Rado’ and ‘Automatic’
Bracelet: Matte olive green high-tech ceramic with three-fold titanium clasp
There is a crucial moment that every watch collector faces in those fast seconds before a multi-day excursion: picking the watches to wear. My personal go-to for changing time zones includes a GMT for tracking home time and a rugged dive watch for everyday wear. Fate, in the form of a press release from Rado, showed up two days before I was scheduled to leave for Tamarindo, Costa Rica, with an offer to review the new Captain Cook dive watch.
I told their very responsive rep if he could get me the watch before I left, it would become my travelling companion on the trip for a hard-core review. Literally hours before departure I was unboxing their bronze beauty and tossing it in the carry-on bag. Welcome to the manifest, Captain.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and its counterpart the Rolex Submariner have collectively set the standards by which all other dive watches should be measured. Like the Eames chair, they sport all the elements, on functional and aesthetic levels, that serve to define the breed. Virtually every other dive watch developed in the past seventy years has drawn from the feature sets of these two watches.
Rado side-by-side with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.
Rado’s reissue of its original 1960’s Captain Cook diver teases elements of these classics, with updates that tastefully reflect popular contemporary treatments and materials.
Let’s get into it…
The Rado delivers a rich wrist statement, utilizing the green and gold of the old Marshall Field’s logo (not John Deere, thank you), and is a striking take on the traditional dive treatment.
The Captain’s green dial is surrounded by a matching ceramic bezel and lives in a bronze case with a titanium back. While I would have preferred a matching color scheme on the bezel indices, the silver is subtle enough to work with the theme.
Its dial is called “green sunray” in the press materials and is slightly domed, giving the high gloss face a three-dimensional glean reminiscent of a highly polished fender on a British racing green Jaguar XK-120. Par for the vintage theme, the hands and markers are a cream-colored Super LumiNova.
The dial also sports a swiveling gold anchor at 12 o’clock, a neat, very, very subtle touch that gives users and excuse to twirl the watch around and wonder “why is my anchor spinning? What does it mean?” Tres 60’s!
The Captain is waterproof to 1,000 feet and powered by an automatic ETA C07, 25-jewel, three- hand movement with a date at 3 o’clock and up to eighty hours power reserve. This is the ‘Powermatic 80’ movement with silicon balance spring, found in many models of Tissot, Certina and Mido watches.
The movement is a no-nonsense performer, offering an impressive power reserve and anti-magnetic properties through the use of a silicon escapement. For those interested in a deep dive into this movement, check out this article in Monochrome and complete technical specifications, including use in other watches, here on Watchbase.
The Bronze Case
The payoff for owners of the Good Captain is found in the bronze case, with a material that has been showing up in increased usage over the years. Unlike stainless steel or gold, that simply scratch and get dirty, bronze develops a unique patina as it’s worn.
The result of the oxidation of the copper component of the bronze can appear as brown, black, red, blue or green. Costa Rica provided the perfect environment to see if the Captain could live up to its name as a sea going adventurer and emerge as a newly colored denizen of the not so deep seas.
The Captain looks and feels solid. The bezel has a nice loud ratchet sound that indicates things are properly aligned. It’s a medium-weight timepiece with a nicely unobtrusive 12.5mm x 42mm case.
While I prefer a horned watch crown and more aggressive ridges on the bezel, the coin-edged style has a more subdued look and feel than, say, the Rado Hyperchrome Captain Cook 2017, with its Fifty Fathoms-esque treatment.
The watch is incredibly easy to read and maintains a night’s worth of luminescence. I’m a personal fan the Captain’s titanium case back because of weight savings and hypoallergenic properties.
The sample I received had a single-piece leather band, and would be better served with a lined Horween, but that’s strictly a personal preference. If anyone was actually going to use this as a dive watch (probably one tenth of one percent of the buyers), the strap and shallow ridges of the bezel would prove a problem underwater. However, for the moisture-averse who will more than likely purchase this product, that won’t be an issue.
Getting it wet Rado in the pool.
Given the Rado’s pedigree as a dive watch, ala the original 60s iteration, I intended to get the Captain wet and dirty, covered with sunscreen and oil, and then hang it out in the sun to dry. To this end the watch accompanied me in the surf, by the pool, up and down daily ten-mile walks through dusty hills and was worn while sweating and spilling margaritas and tequila shots.
Any dive watch that remains neat and clean and dry should be forcibly taken from its owner and that misguided individual barred from ever owning another watch with a water-resistant rating over one meter. But I digress.
The watch swum through the week of abuse with no undue scratching, scarring or unwanted mutating. The bronze case picked up a dull finish with some blackish highlights, answering the question of how it would tarnish. While the user’s manual states that the watch can be returned to Rado for cleaning (really), I found using metal polish worked just fine – see the before and after photos with minimal elbow grease.
Would I buy this watch?
Absolutely – and for many several reasons. It’s great looking, in a non-blingy way, and punches well above its class for the price. Unlike stainless or gold watches, it feels organic.
The bronze changes and reflects the activity level of the user. It features a whopping four anchor logos between the case and strap, and three starfish on the case back (It would have been nice to see a mermaid as well), but who knows what the future may hold! It has a domed crystal and a groovy domed dial – a double dose of domage – awesome! And, finally, it holds its value: check out the used prices on eBay against the street price on this watch (as a comparison look at Romain Jerome as well – a cringe-worthy value dropper!).
As a daily wear in dry conditions, the watch as configured with a leather strap will serve most users well. For those who actually wear dive watches for diving I’d suggest investing in a metal bracelet model. The Captain was a great travelling companion, and kudos to Rado for delivering exceptional quality at a realistic price point. Price: $2,600
The big, titanium HyperChrome Captain Cook is Rado’s recent interpretation of a dive watch with the bling and brawn for an underwater fashionista. If this Captain were a living, breathing sailor, he’d be a burly, broad-shoulder guy standing on a titanium peg-leg grinning with a polished, silver tooth.
Rado got some attention a few years ago when it reimagined the Captain Cook after its original model from the 1960s. Rado timed the vintage-like release perfectly, and it was the 37mm little brother that took the spotlight.This watch’s namesake was the British Captain Cook, who explored the Pacific in the 1700s.
Rado often goes unnoticed among Swatch Group’s other brands, but this watch refuses to get lost and is unapologetically bold. The HyperChrome Captain Cook comes in two distinct sizes. I got my hands on this large-and-in-charge 45mm model and was surprised by its slight weight of 147 grams on the metal bracelet.
The chunk of metal feels like a tool or a weapon on my wrist, but with the refined edges and smoothness of a surgical instrument. The massive lugs are brushed with a finely integrated bracelet with alternating polish. The case is predominately a titanium alloy, which highlights Rado’s niche-work with alloys and ceramic composite materials.
Titanium is found in more and more watches – and for good reasons. It represents a lightweight alternative to heavier stainless steel. The downside of the metal is that it tends to be easily scratched.
The lugs on this case jut out like the bow of a ship and remind me ofdesign elements in vintage Omega Flightmasters or Seiko Bullheads. The bezel is a black, high-tech ceramic insert engraved and enclosed in a carbon-diffused steel unidirectional ring.
The ring slopes toward the curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides. The bezel and crystal create a bowl shape that highlights the bezel’s triangle at 12, and Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45-minute marks. The 120-click ratcheting bezel is polished on its coin edge and mirrors the polished links on the center of the bracelet.
I am a guy who loves steel bracelets but have never liked mixed-metal finishes. It might offer versatility in matching your attire, but I think the mixed titanium and polished steel draws more attention to the bracelet and less to the case even though the case stands nearly 14mm high.
The bezel functions with some firmness, so there’s no casual bump or slight push with a finger to move it off its mark. You have to really grab it to turn and the coin-edge provides the traction. Once it’s set, however, there’s some mechanical play in it and this made me do a double-take and make sure its triangle of SuperLuminova was aimed at the right minute marker on the chapter ring.
The signed and polished grade-5 titanium screw-down crown has been given a hardening treatment to stand up to wear, but it still feels small compared to the rest of the case. Rado’s anchor on the crown is a nice visual element, but its size and placement on the case make it hard to unscrew. Sure, this screw-down feature helps give it the 200m water resistance, but it might be improved with a larger crown or better placement on the case.
The company launched in 1917 and the Rado name ascended in the market in the 1950s. The name means “wheel,” which seems appropriate for the many parts in the mechanical movements, but Rado’s niche has been finding innovative elements to make watches stronger and more resilient. They have a history of using innovative ceramics and carbide-based composites and watch-case coatings.
Inside all the innovative case materials is a tried and true automatic ETA movement that boasts an 80-hour power reserve.
Form is important. Function is essential. This watch blends these two elements on the dial by providing exceptional contrast between the deep black dial and the applied indexes with white SuperLuminova. Rado floats a gold anchor rotating on a red disk at 12 o’clock above its name along with a subtle Captain Cook at 6. The date display has a black base that hides at 3 o’clock. If your watch needs a date, this is the way to show it on the dial.
The arrow hour-hand makes no mistake pointing the way and the second-hand has enough contrast in the day and luminescence at night to give you the details.
The Rado brand is aimed at the “high range” market, which is Swatch Group’s second-shelf below the prestige and luxury range audience. This watch is in good company with Longines and Union Glashutte and has the legacy and support that comes with Swatch Group. It’s this stability and innovative history that has allowed Hyperchrome Captain Cook to be a unique, modern-day sport watch for a fashion-conscious diver. Price: $2,600.
Ken Nichols is a writer and photographer living in the South with his wife, three girls, vintage Airstream and humble watch collection. https://about.me/ken.nichols
Specifications: Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook
Reference number: 01.763.0501.3.015
Movement: 11 ½ ETA C07.611, automatic, 25 jewels, 3 hands, date at 3 o’clock, up to 80 hours power reserve
Case & Bezel: High-tech ceramic insert engraved and coated and inserted in a carbon diffused steel unidirectional bezel
Case Back: Screw-down titanium case back with 3 seahorses stamped
Crown: Polished grade 5 titanium screwed crown with hardening treatment
Crystal: curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Water resistance: 20 bar (200m)
Dial: Blue sunbrushed, applied indexes with white Super-LumiNova® and large white moving anchor symbol with red background, white printed Captain Cook, Rado and Automatic logos
Hands: White SuperLuminova
Bracelet: satin brushed stainless steel cover with hardening treatment