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By Laurent Martinez

I would like to share a hopeful story with you about an American Master Watchmaker working to achieve his lifelong dream.

For the past forty-five years, Don Loke has enjoyed a long and successful career as a professional master watchmaker and most recently has launched D Loke, his eponymous bespoke watch collection.

Loke’s deep watchmaking training and industry history has prepared him well for this most recent venture.

The watchmaker

Don Loke graduated in 1978 from the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then worked with a master watchmaker in Meriden, Connecticut.

Master watchmaker Don Loke at his atelier in Connecticut .

After this experience, he went back to Bowman and took clock making courses to finally finish in 1984. After Lancaster, Loke attended WOSTEP, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where he graduated first in his class.

Learning from Masters

While he was at school he met Michel Parmigiani and Philippe Dufour—two master watchmakers and renowned personalities in the Swiss luxury watch industry.

This was just the beginning. Post-graduation, he was invited by Breguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre for training in Switzerland and became the official after-sale person for Breguet in the U.S. when it was still owned by Chaumet. He also worked for two years with Master Watchmaker Dennis Harmon, in Waterbury, Connecticut, after which he became Technical Director of movement maker ETA for the American market. Loke soon joined UTAC Americas (which distributed Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Bertolucci, and Girard-Perregaux) as its technical director.

During this time, Loke also learned from Master Watchmaker Daniel Roth in Switzerland, who taught him the ins-and-outs of the highly complex tourbillon mechanism. By the mid-1990s, Loke worked with prominent companies such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Gerald Genta, and Daniel Roth.

Loke served as U.S. representative for Parmigiani Fleurier in the U.S. for more than six years.

When Loke found out that Michel Parmigiani was striking out on his own, Loke reached out to his old friend and eventually became the U.S. representative for Parmigiani Fleurier for more than six years. Don even interacted with legendary horologist George Daniels, discussing his new escapement and the double-wheel escapement Loke eventually developed. After seven years, he turned the escapement into a Solidworks program.

George Daniels and Don Loke

High-level services

When Don Loke is not working on his own bespoke projects, he services incredible watches, ranging from minute repeaters to chronographs. He also restores intricate timepieces that require special attention, recreating parts from scratch to make identical versions of the original components. At the same time, he currently is in charge of the North American Service Center for Louis Moinet—a brand that makes exceptional watches that range between $80,000 and $350,000.

Loke currently is in charge of the North American Service Center for Louis Moinet. Pictured is the Louis Moinet Memoris Red Eclipse.

As you can see, Loke’s specialty is working on high-complication timepieces and his passion for watches and watchmaking has only augmented over the decades. 

Own brand: D Loke

After all these years of dedicating his time to other brands and watches, Don Loke recently began to make eponymous bespoke watches. He established two shops. One is the “clean room” to house machinery for fine turnings, cuttings, wheel making, and pinion producing. He has a microscope for measuring, a guilloché machine with forty-two discs for dial decorating, and an oven for enameling.

Loke at his workshop.

This room is also where Don Loke stores his sketches, drawing, layouts, and 3D modeling. The other is the “dirty room” for more heavy type work. Prototyping takes place at his shops and production models are executed with CNC technology.

Loke’s guilloche machine.

Dress chronographs

The first D Loke watch model is a chronograph dress watch—an idea Don Loke stored in the back of his mind for decades—where the chronograph pushers are hidden from sight.

Inside the 5 ATM water-resistant titanium case is a dial with asymmetric sub-dials and ornately cut center hands resembling blades. The rich blue details on the dial change color depending on the light, and there’s a crown at 9 o’clock to rotate the inner timing bezel.

Two D Loke dress chronographs.

The limited edition D Loke dress chronographs run on chronometer-rated Concepto calibers, a hybrid Swiss movement based on the ETA Valjoux 7750.

The Concepto Cal. 8100 (quality 1) decorated movement regulated by Loke to chronometer standards.

The watches took six months from design to manufacturing, and while the watch is made in Switzerland, the quality control and finishing are done in the U.S. There are twenty-five examples of the white-dial version, twenty-five examples of the white dial (with a blue bezel) version, and 300 examples of the blue dial version.

Although the watches are currently only available for purchase directly from Don Loke, his goal is to be in stores like Manfredi Jewels or Betteridge.

D Loke dress chronograph on the wrist.

Second model

Loke is already working on his second watch model and is currently completing the prototype of a new lever escapement. At the heart of the watch will be a 100% proprietary movement, based on Don Loke’s design and technical drawings – his very own invention.

Loke says he will source handmade gold dials from J.N. Shapiro in California. As a result, this will be a handmade watch made entirely in the United States. Don expects to manufacture five prototypes in the first year and he will become the first American watchmaker to make his own high-end watch powered by his own movement. The aim is to present this timepiece to the U.S. market by the end of 2020 with a price tag of $65,000 to $75,000.

Daniels connection

The third D Loke watch model will be a model with a double pivoted and spring detente escapement—invented by Don Loke based on conversations he had with George Daniels.

Yet again, this is his invention, with designs and technical drawings built from scratch. With already twenty-five orders in the books for this upcoming watch model, the American market should see it by the second quarter of 2021 with a price tag of $175,000.

Ultimately, it is Don’s dream to have his own watch on his wrist. Another goal of his is to bring his three children into the business. Both are highly skilled engineers.

With all of these ideas and designs, including a future tourbillon piece, Loke is going to need plenty of talent and skill.

I love this spirit of entrepreneurship, and I wish Don Loke the very best and abundant success with his new company. Stay tuned for the end of the year when he unveils his new watches.

Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com (where this article first appeared) or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com

 

Ulysse Nardin has partnered with Ocearch, a scientific organization that works with researchers and educational institutions to better understand the movement and habits of sharks.

The Le Locle watchmaker has historically manufactured marine chronometers and has even more recently released dive watches symbolized by the shark. The new partnership means Ulysse Nardin will financially back Ocearch’s mission and assist researchers in their work and provide resources to better understand the shark’s role in the ocean’s fragile ecosystem.

Ulysse Nardin U.S. brand president François-Xavier Hotier says he has wanted to align the brand with a nonprofit marine life conservation organization since he started with the watch company in 2018.

Ulysse Nardin U.S. President Francois-Xavier Hotier

“Ocearch’s passion and their commitment to the shark species equaled that of our company’s and I knew Ulysse Nardin could make a positive impact toward their, and truly our, collective mission to save the shark species and therein help balance the ocean’s delicate ecosystem,” he said in a press release.  

“In speaking with François-Xavier Hotier we came to realize, not only our shared passion for the impact of shark-based research but of the importance of doing good work for good,” says Chris Fischer, founder of Ocearch. “We rely on companies like Ulysse Nardin to help raise awareness for our mission and look forward to working with the team behind the scenes and on future research expeditions.”

Ulysse Nardin will support Ocearch on its upcoming expeditions and work together to raise awareness around marine research. The organization is currently planning two expeditions for the end of 2020. The first will take place August 5-20 in Massachusetts and the second from September 3-28 in Nova Scotia.

Recent Ulysse Nardin dive models that pay homage to different shark species include two limited editions, the Diver Chronograph Hammerhead Shark and the Lady Diver Great White. Both are pictured below.

The Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition. Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition. The watch is offered with a titanium or rose gold case and with rubber or fabric strap.

 

 

The Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver Great White. The watch has a domed crystal and a concave unidirectional bezel and its dial is designed to look like the granular skin of a great white shark.

 

 

Caseback view of the Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver Great White Limited Edition.

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Citizen X-8 Chronometer, the world’s first titanium watch, the Tokyo-based watchmaker unveils the new Satellite Wave GPS F950 Titanium 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.

Citizen’s new Satellite Wave GPS F950 Titanium 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.

The celebratory model builds on the ‘space design’ look of Citizen’s Satellite Wave watches that utilize technology Citizen first developed in 2011. Those models were also housed in titanium and featured the then-revolutionary satellite connection that assured highly accurate GPS-based timekeeping that would update to any location on earth.

All these Satellite Wave models, which Citizen updates with faster, more efficient modules regularly, are powered by Citizen’s battery-free Eco-Drive technology. Citizen’s newest movement in this range is the Citizen GPS F950, which powers this new watch.  

Space theme

As with nearly all the Satellite Wave models, Citizen’s new Satellite Wave GPS F950 Titanium 50th Anniversary Limited Edition features a round, multi-layered case with an angular-link bracelet nicely integrated into the case.

Here, Citizen darkens the 47.5mm Super Titanium case, the six-level dial and the bracelet, all blackened to convey what Citizen calls the “endless depths of outer space.”

With decades of research into titanium case technology, Citizen supplies its own surface hardening, which it calls Duratect 2 DLC, to the case of the new watch, while accenting the inner bezel with a rose-gold-like Duratect Sakura Pink titanium (which also coats the caseback.)

Citizen will sell its Satellite Wave GPS F950 Titanium 50th Anniversary Limited Model, a 550-piece limited edition, this December in the U.S. exclusively on its website. Price: $5,000

Three in titanium  

Ahead of the anniversary model described above, Citizen this August will also release a new titanium collection of three watches called Citizen Super Titanium Armor.

Designed to recall the look of high-tech armoring, the collection includes a 44mm chronograph watch (above) in two styles (both with ‘hidden’ pushers) and a 41mm time-only model with a crown at 4 o’clock.

All are light-powered, using Citizen’s own Eco-Drive technology, and all feature integrated Super Titanium cases and bracelets. Prices: $650 (chronograph) and $550.

 

Zenith unveils the Chronomaster Revival Shadow, another winning retro model designed as a result of Zenith’s deep dive into its own El Primero history.

The newest watch updates the look and feel of a black-cased El Primero watch Zenith made as a prototype in the early 1970s. Dubbed the Shadow, the update utilizes an original A384 case shape and 37mm size, the same case Zenith revisited for last year’s Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384.

Zenith has re-created the stealthy look using micro-blasted titanium rather than the darkened steel Zenith discovered on the early “Shadow” model.

Not surprisingly, unlike the prototype from 1970 powered by a manual-winding chronograph movement, the Chronomaster Revival Shadow features Zenith’s date-free El Primero (4061), visible through the display back.

As Zenith explains “only a handful of this spectral prototype was made, but the model was never officially produced or commercialized. Many watchmakers and longtime employees of Zenith had heard of and even seen one of the rare prototypes, even though official records about this piece are extremely scarce.”

The Le Locle-based watchmaker spent much of 2019 documenting its El Primero history as it celebrated the pioneering, high-beat chronograph movement’s fiftieth anniversary by issuing a series of celebratory watches, many of which were made to echo the case and dial designs of early Zenith watches fitted with the El Primero movements.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow pairs grey subdials with a matching tachymeter scale, and both contrast nicely with matte black dial.  Perhaps to emphasize its stealthy name, the watch’s hands and applied markers are filled with white SuperLuminova that emits a green glow. The watch’s strap is textured black rubber with white stitching. Price: $8,200

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival ‘Shadow”

Reference: 97.T384.4061/21.C822

 

Movement: El Primero 4061 Automatic with column-wheel chronograph, 36,000 VpH frequency with 50-hour power reserve, visible from clear caseback.

Functions: Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Tachymetric scale.

Case: 37-mm micro-blasted titanium using original A384 case shape, water resistant to 50 meters

Dial: Black dial with grey counters and tachymeter scale, hand and markers rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLumiNovaSLN C1

Bracelet & Buckle: Black “cordura effect” strap and white stitching. Microblasted titanium pin buckle.

Focusing on its vintage-styled 1858 collection, Montblanc in 2020 is adding artisanal blue dials to its 1858 Split Second Chronograph and one 1858 Geosphere world timer watch while also introducing an all-new one-hand, 24-hour watch and a bronze-cased 1858 Monopusher Chronograph.  

Montblanc’s new 1858 Automatic 24H.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H is the newest design among the four debuts and displays the time using one hand to indicate time on a 24-hour scale. As one of the few Montblanc 24-hour watches available, the new 1858 Automatic 24H also serves another function: compass. (You may recall the 2018 Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100, which also features a single 24-hour hand but includes additional chronograph timing hands – and a compass on its back.) Here, Montblanc has printed a compass scale in a beige ring on the outside of the dial, with markers for approximately every five degrees, and includes the cardinal points in red.

Up close on the dial of the new Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H.

To use the hand as a compass (in the northern hemisphere) simply ensure the watch is correctly set and then hold it horizontal to the ground. Then rotate it until the tip of the hour hand is pointing towards the sun. In this position, all the cardinal points on the dial will be correctly aligned. North is located at ‘24h’ and South at ‘12h’.

As one of Montblanc’s ‘adventure’ themed models, the new watch is carefully color coded and heavy with SuperLuminova. Not only is the red-tipped single hand colored red, it is luminescent, as is the map of the Northern Hemisphere and twenty-four meridians on the black dial.

The 42mm automatic watch is cased in a new stainless steel case with a bronze bezel, creating the vintage look that marks the 1858 collection. On the back you will find a “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraving. At its $3,030 price, we expect the Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H to compete directly with the other relatively few one-hand watches currently on the market.

The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere, with new titanium case and gradient blue dial.

1858 Geosphere

Montblanc’s 1858 Geosphere, the brand’s worldtimer with quite distinctive turning, slightly domed globes at the top (Northern Hemisphere) and bottom (Southern Hemisphere) of its dial has been among the most impressive world time watches in its price range since its debut just a few years ago. Previously available with a steel case and in a bronze case, the 1858 Geosphere is now available with a lighter grade-5 titanium case, here combined with a blue dial and ‘icy’ white accents.

Still at 42mm in diameter, the 1858 Geosphere’s titanium case is topped with a fluted, bi-directional stainless steel bezel that Montblanc then further decorates with shiny blue ceramic bezel and four engraved luminescent directional markers.

The nicely illuminated dial of the new Montblanc 1858 Geosphere.

On the new 1858 Geosphere, the two domed globes are each surrounded by a fixed 24-timezone scale that includes a day/night blue indicator. A second time zone is indicated at nine o’clock and a date, linked to the local time, is at three o’clock.

For added ‘adventure’ effect, Montblanc marks the world’s Seven Summits and Mont Blanc on the turning globes with blue dots. They are also engraved on the caseback along with a drawing of Mont Blanc, a compass, and two crossed ice pick-axes. Price: With blue dial: $5,800 (on leather) and $6,200. Black dial with bracelet: $5,800.

Two Chronographs

Also for 2020, Montblanc adds two new versions of existing chronographs, both with unusual, high-end features and vintage designs.

One, the 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100, is the latest of Montblanc’s stunning reinterpretations of historical 44mm Minerva military monopusher chronographs from the 1930s with its distinctive snail tachymeter scale dial. This newest edition comes cased in (44mm) titanium and with a new, vibrant blue grand feu enamel gold dial.

The new Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100.

Inside Montblanc places its own manufacture monopusher chronograph caliber MB M16.31 that features two column wheels, horizontal coupling and a power reserve of fifty hours. The movement is beautifully designed to echo the original 1930s Minerva caliber 17.29. From the back you’ll see the same V- shape bridge as the original, along with a large balance wheel beating at the traditional frequency of 18,000 bph.

The new model continues the vintage aesthetic Montblanc nailed when this collection debuted in 2015. Echoing the collection, this new blue-dialed limited edition features a satin-finished case, polished lugs with beveled edges, a fluted crown and a domed sapphire crystal. Price: $36,000

1858 Monopusher Chronograph

Finally, Montblanc in 2020 adds to its 1858 Monopusher Chronograph collection with a new Limited Edition 1858 in a 42mm bronze case. Formerly only available in steel (and additionally within the Montblanc Heritage collection), the 1858 version of this monopusher chronograph adds a bit of adventure to the truly useful, vintage-inspired function by surrounding the black dial with a beige-railway track and a telemeter scale.   

The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition, with bronze case.

 

Echoing Minerva chronographs from the 1930s, the entire 1858 Chronograph line, including its two-pusher and mono-pusher models, is one of the brand’s highest-value designs.

Montblanc’s newest 1858 Monopusher Chronograph in a steel case with calfskin strap.

Here, Montblanc creates an in-house module that it pairs with a Sellita caliber to ensure that the monopusher function is available at an affordable price. As a monopusher, the watch’s start, stop and reset can be activated through a single pusher integrated into the crown.

The three newest Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronographs with bronze (left) and steel cases.

You’ll see beige-SuperLuminova numerals and rose-gold-coated, cathedral-shaped luminescent hands on the bronze and steel-cased 1858 Monopusher Chronographs. The bronze watch ($5,600) is available with an interesting new beige NATO strap. Two other unlimited models are available in stainless steel ($5,200), one of which comes with a new stainless steel bracelet made of a mix of link shapes, and a third set with an aged, cognac-colored calfskin strap.

De Bethune marks the tenth anniversary of its DB28 by re-interpreting the 43mm titanium-cased, top-crown watch in three extra-thin versions. All three timepieces re-imagine the DB28 in slightly different ways, but all utilize a new, thinner case with newly designed – but still floating – lugs.  

One of the three celebratory DB28XP debuts flouts a highly polished example of the new ultra-thin case with the prominent De Bethune delta mainplate, one presents a De Bethune Starry Sky design on its dial and the third is equipped with a De Bethune ultra-light tourbillon set in a stunning hand-engraved “barley grain” guilloche pattern.

The Ultra-Thin DB28XP

To create this ultra-thin (measuring 7.2mm compared to 9.3mm in previous models) evolution of the DB28, De Bethune re-designed the case, lugs and the case band, adding a more pronounced curvature.

New finishing needed to reflect the new, thinner profile, according to De Bethune, which is why the new model features highly polished titanium bridges and satin-finished bevels, a visual treat that enhances the thinness of the new watch. Likewise, De Bethune mirror-finishes the emblematic delta-shaped mainplate and with its dial offers a modern take on traditional guilloche technique.

The new ultra-thin titanium case on two of the new watches measures 7.2mm compared to 9.3mm in previous models.

De Bethune of course fits the watch with its own balance-spring with a flat terminal curve, silicon escape wheel and De Bethune triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system. De Bethune has also increased the efficiency (by twenty percent) of its self-regulating twin-barrels to ensure that the hand-wound movement delivers a full six days of power reserve.

DB28XP Starry Sky

Here, De Bethune creates its first-ever blued Microlight dial, comprised of a blue titanium base with applied microgrooves, to deliver a celestial dial show. Those ‘stars’ on the dial are actually white gold pins placed with precision and as requested by the customer.

As you may know, De Bethune allows the customer to select a date, hour and location so that it can create a night sky exactly as desired by the watch’s owner.

The DB28XP Starry Sky features the hour circle in silver, the minutes in Arabic numerals, the De Bethune signature at 12 o’clock and rose gold hands designed especially for the new watch.

DB28XP Tourbillon

With this third interpretation of the DB28 theme, De Bethune rearranges the movement’s architecture by placing an exceedingly lightweight (0.18 grams-which De Bethune calls “the lightest ever”) 30-second, 36,000-bph tourbillon at 6 o’clock. De Bethune notes that the dial of the DB28 Digitale inspired the new design.

Offering hour, minute and seconds indications, the DB28XP Tourbillon’s white dial with silver reflections is stunning indeed. It provides an enthralling hand-engraved “barley grain” guilloche pattern, highlighted by a blued hour circle with polished marker dots.

If you can bear to turn the watch to its caseback, there’s another reward to viewing the DB28XP Tourbillon: a representation of our solar system that references the Aiguille d’Or – the highest distinction of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) – awarded to the first DB28. The position of the planets is that of the evening sky over Geneva when the prize was presented on November 19, 2011.

The position of the planets is that of the evening sky over Geneva when the GPHG prize was presented to the first DB28 on November 19, 2011.

Prices:

DB28XPTIS1, Polished Titanium:  $79,900

DB28XPTIS3v2, Titanium Starry Sky: $79,900

DB28XPTTIS1, Tourbillon with Titanium Barleycorn motif:  $198,000

 

 

The Porsche Design 1919 Chronotimer Flyback is now available with an eye-catching blue dial and strap. Retaining the lightweight titanium case and form-fit lugs that mark the collection, this new model transfers the luxury of Porsche interior blue calf leather to wrist. The minimalistic dial echoes the watch’s automotive inspiration with clean lines and a highly legible set of subdials and markers.  

Also echoing the automotive namesake is what’s under the hood, or in this case, beneath the dial. Porsche Design’s own Werk 01.200 chronograph caliber offers a flyback mechanism designed by Porsche Design.

As is typical of many of its other watches, Porsche Design has set the movement with a blackened, tungsten rotor featuring the brand logo. Werk 01.200 also bears a chronometer-level certificate from the Swiss C.O.S.C. institute.  

The 1919 Chronotimer Flyback Blue & Leather is available starting this month priced at $6,350 in Porsche Design Stores and online at www.porsche-design.us  and www.porsche-design.ca.

Specifications: Porsche Design 1919 Chronotimer Flyback Blue & Leather

Movement: Porsche Design-made caliber WERK 01.200, 4 Hz, chronograph with flyback function, COSC-certified, blackened Porsche Design icon rotor, 48-hour power reserve

Case: 42mm by 14.9mm titanium, bead-blasted and polished, screw-down crown, sapphire crystal front and back, water resistant to 100 meters  

Dial: Blue with white accents, minute, hour, mechanical function display at 9 o’clock, chronograph second hand, 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, date window at 4 o’clock

Strap: Genuine Porsche car leather blue, grey stitching, folding clasp with pusher

Text and images by Ken Nichols

 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.

Design and Finish

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.

The 120-click ratcheting bezel is polished on its coin edge and mirrors the polished links on the center of the bracelet.

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 Captain Cook’s case is predominately a titanium alloy, which highlights Rado’s niche-work with alloys and ceramic composite materials.

 The lugs on this case jut out like the bow of a ship and remind me of  design 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 lugs on this case jut out like the bow of a ship and remind me of design elements in vintage Omega Flightmasters or Seiko Bullheads.

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 and crystal create a bowl shape that highlights the Captain Cook’s bezel triangle at 12, and Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45-minute marks.

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.

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.

 Innovation

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.

Legibility

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.

Rarity and value

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
  • Dimensions: 45mm wide x 54 long x 13.8mm high
  • Price: $2,600