Rado is one of the brands that is always at the forefront of technical innovation and new thinking in the world of horology. The Rado True Thinline Stillness released earlier this year is a great example of the brand’s conscientious approach to high-end watchmaking. More recently, however, they’ve been exploring a concept that has become increasingly popular over the past few years: retro/vintage-modern.
The poster-watch for this development is the Captain Cook, a vintage inspired explorer watch that is now available in cutting edge, high-tech ceramic with Rado’s premium movement, presented in four new versions. So, the question is, how well does the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic balance the old with the new?
Off the bat, I’m quite a fan of the appearance of the new watch, especially the black and steel colour version that I’m going to focus on. The high-tech ceramic, which is well and truly a signature of the brand at this point, is sleek and subtle on the case and bracelet while adding a nice contrast to the white lacquered markers on the bezel.
In fact, the bezel itself is probably one of my favourite features, it’s made from stainless steel with a black ceramic insert and has a pronounced grip for ease of rotation, meaning all it would need is a dive timer and unidirectional rotation and suddenly this watch is a full-on retro diver.
Similarly, the hour markers on the dial and the arrow shaped hands are large and filled with white Super-LumiNova®, enhancing the diver aesthetic. But at the same time, the simplicity of the layout, due to the piece’s time only function, gives it a welcome field watch flavour as well. That’s what makes the Captain Cook a good explorer watch – it takes inspiration from two watch archetypes that have to deal with the most extreme conditions, and that are famous for their vintage appeal.
Everything I’ve just talked about, stylistically, is more or less true of every timepiece in the Captain Cook collection, with the monobloc ceramic construction being the only real deviation from the bronze or regular models. However, the use of ceramic isn’t the only new feature here. The overall size of this watch has been increased to 43mm, a first for the collection and in keeping with the modern trend towards larger watches. That size would traditionally be considered a men’s watch but because of the lightweight materials, anyone should be able to wear it with reasonable ease.
The modern developments continue inside. It uses the Rado calibre R734, a skeletonised, automatic movement that is visible through the tinted sapphire dial and display caseback. With an 80-hour power reserve and antimagnetic Nivachron™ balance spring, it’s a really solid movement ideal for exploration. Which you’d hope would be the case as it follows in the legacy of Captain Cook and his expeditions, where he famously used the K1 Larcum Kendal Marine Chronometer that was itself cutting edge at the time.
The Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic is available in black and steel with a ceramic bracelet, black and steel with a rubber strap, black and rose gold PVD with a ceramic bracelet and a plasma and blue version in ceramic and steel with a ceramic bracelet. The prices range from £3,065 to £3,530 depending on the version. It’s a good price for a piece that successfully adds useful innovations to a nice-looking watch and manages to tread the line between tradition and development well.
Price & Specs:
Model: Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic
Reference: R32127162 (black ceramic case, rose gold PVD bezel, black ceramic bracelet)
R32127152 (black ceramic case, black ceramic bracelet)
R32127156 (black ceramic case, rubber strap)
R32128202 (plasma and blue ceramic, matt ceramic bracelet)
Case/Dial: 43mm diameter x 14.6mm height, ceramic case, black tinted sapphire crystal dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: In-house Rado calibre R734, automatic, 25 jewels
Power reserve: 80h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds,
Strap: Matt ceramic bracelet or black rubber
Price/availability: £3,440 (black ceramic/rose gold PVD), £3,345 (black ceramic/black ceramic bracelet), £3,065 (black ceramic/black rubber strap) and £3,530 (plasma and blue ceramic/matt ceramic bracelet)
More details at Rado.