It is poetic that the three watches which comprise our inaugural exploration into watch brands that can form a complete collection of dressy, weekend and tool watches, all come from one of Rado’s most prolific decades.
Founded in 1917 by the brothers Fritz, Ernst and Werner, the Schlup & Co. watchmaking factory which for a time, was a humble atelier, in converted part of their parents’ home, was the birthplace of the company that would later become Rado. Belying its humble beginnings, Rado was among the largest producers of watch movements in the world by the end of World War II.
Schlup & Co. began selling watches under the Rado brand name in the 1950s and celebrating the company’s 40th anniversary, the company launched their iconic Golden Horse collection in 1957, one of the first Rado models marketed on its water resistance. By the end of the decade, Rado became a bonafide international brand with a presence in over 61 countries.
Today, Rado is a globally recognised brand, famous for innovative design and its use of revolutionary materials like high tech ceramics to create some of the world’s most beautiful and durable watches. Ever since its beginnings in Lengnau, Switzerland, Rado has been a pioneer, with the brand philosophy “if we can imagine it, we can make it” still holding true.
The launch of the Rado Ceramica in 1990 introduced the world to a completely integrated watch case and bracelet made of sapphire crystal and high-tech ceramic. Updated three years later, the Sintra was the first Rado watch made of cermet, a titanium-based ceramic combined with metal; while the brand’s modern history sees them breaking new ground in touch technology with a “crownless wonder” known as the Esenza Touch that could be set with a simple touch and swipe, it is some historic symmetry the three watches which comprise our inaugural exploration into watch brands that can form a complete collection of dressy, weekend and tool watches, all come from one of Rado’s most prolific decades.
Dress Watch: Golden Horse collection
An original design before they became synonymous with its high-tech ceramic cases and bracelets, the dressy Rado Golden Horse 1957 and its hard-wearing, sporty diver’s watch Captain Cook, encapsulate the zeitgeist of late 50s-early 60s designs. From smokey dials to domed sapphire crystals which mimic the appearance of vintage Hesalite, the Rado Golden Horse 1957 complements the brand’s contemporary with a promise akin to see your beloved classic Jaguar E-Type with a hybridised electric engine.
Indeed, the new Rado Golden Horse 1957 limited edition carries on its face: vintage aesthetics but underneath its striking fume or smoked dial and highly polished faceted indexes and classic sword hands, beats a thoroughly advanced piece of micro-engineering with 80 hours power reserve. Remarkably, it’s not the technical movement with silicon escapement which truly makes the Golden Horse 1957 such a winning Rado novelty: it is really the vintage aesthetics executed so similarly and with such high attention to details – think Grand Seiko or H. Moser, that without a loupe, many of the finishing is executed in a manner which – dare we say – approaches the levels of fine watchmaking techniques.
The Golden Horse collection from 1957 was a breakthrough for Rado, as it was the first collection presented under the brand’s name. The collection uses modern design features and a vintage base that allow the Golden Horse models to showcase Rado’s illustrious past and glorious present. With bold new elements and material innovations, together with an eye-catching design, the new Golden Horse Automatic collection is the definition of the ‘new vintage’.
Tool Watch: Captain Cook
Heritage re-issues can be tricky business and Rado carries the flag of competent retro revival with the relaunch of its vintage Captain Cook collection. The new HyperChrome Captain Cook collection recalls the swagger of 1960s dive watches with a trio of retro-aesthetic, unisex timepieces
Named for 18th century British explorer Captain James Cook, the namesake HyperChrome divers’ watch carries the association of a pioneer adventurer who charted thousands of miles of unexplored Pacific coastline. In that sense, Cook embodied the ideals of Da Vinci’s vitruvian man with his relentless pursuit of knowledge on a wide variety of academic topics including anthropology and astronomy; as a result, by the transitive powers of association, an owner of the new Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook gets recognition for a personal ethos aligned with the enigmatic captain.
Charting new territory in vintage watches, the Rado Captain Cook is a natural choice for modern explorers. This automatic timepiece contains a mix of materials including high-tech ceramic and sapphire crystal, which is a style statement waiting to be discovered. Its vintage details, and up-to-date features make it the perfect everyday tool watch.
Weekend Watch: Captain Cook MKIII
While the Captain Cook Limited Edition bares all the design codes of that 60s spurt of purpose built divers, the tonneau shaped Rado Captain Cook Mk. III Automatic is reminiscent of 1970s swagger. Inspired by the 1962 Captain Cook Diver, Rado’s new MKIII diver is equipped with a lightweight matte titanium and on the dial front, has highly distinctive bright yellow accents on crucial elements like hands, indexes and the first quadrant of the inner rotating bezel for legibility.
The convex inner rotating bezel contrasted with the boxed sapphire adds tremendous depth to the new Rado Captain Cook MKIII Automatic while the 46.8mm x 48.3mm sandblasted hardened grade 5 titanium lends an air of modernity despite its 70s retro-appeal.
The masculine style of the Rado Captain Cook MKIII is true to the original and while bearing the readability and wearability of a twenty-first century timepiece, thanks to its luminous applied indexes and rhodium coloured hands with white Super-LumiNova which makes for enhanced legibility in any situation, above and below the waves. A true modern classic.