Swiss brand Rado has spent much of the past 25 years perfecting the use of high-tech ceramics in watchmaking. It makes sense, then, that it built a unique reputation for suitably space-age looking watches to match the technology it was pioneering. Retro it was not. First developed to protect the nose cone of the Nasa Space Shuttle, ceramic (or zirconium oxide) is a fine powder injected into molds and then heated to extreme temperatures to solidify into a material ten times harder than gold but two and a half times lighter. Hypoallergenic and very resistant to scratching, ceramic is in many ways the wonder material of the watch world, but it’s a royal pain to work with—it shrinks 23 percent during the firing process and it’s particularly hard to create new colors.
In 2017, an unlikely appearance—for Rado—at the Basel watch fair harkened back to the brand’s pre-ceramic history when it relaunched an identikit replica of the Captain Cook, a 37mm steel dive watch it had made from 1962 to 1968, the only nod to modernity being the ceramic insert in the bezel. Sixties design cues like an inward-loping bezel and its small scale proved a hit with fans of authentic divers and a number of iterations have surfaced since.
Last week, Rado revealed a new bronze Captain Cook in a larger 42mm size with a striking burgundy accent for the dial and bezel insert, both made in ceramic. Red tones in the world of ceramics are known to be amongst the hardest to achieve, which is why you won’t see a lot of brands producing red ceramic watches any time soon. (A nylon NATO strap echoes the arresting color combination.) It’s a bold step away from the predictable blue or black colorations of traditional dive watches. And for those who like the glow of gold on their wrist but don’t have the moolah to pay for it, bronze—traditionally used on ships for its resistance to corrosion—is a viable and authentic alternative. Of course, being bronze, it will tarnish pleasingly over time, unlike gold. Also, unlike gold, it carries a very reasonable price of $2,600.
The Rado Captain Cook 42mm in burgundy ceramic and bronze is available starting December 7 at Rado’s online store.
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Source : Esquire