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Modestly priced watches: a brief survey of the Rado Baselworld 2016 offerings

by Peter Chong on April 29, 2016
A brief survey of the Rado Baselworld 2016 Offerings

The maison of Rado is a very interesting one. It runs below the radar of most high end collectors, who often dismiss them as fashion watches. But yet, Rado makes some of the most technically innovative watches in the industry. Their speciality is not in the movements which we tend to focus on, but on the case, the dial, on the design as well as use of materials. For example, they were the first to use ceramic in watch cases, even as early as the 1990s. In this article, we explore some of the watches which caught our eye from the Rado Baselworld 2016 novelties.

 

Scratch resistant = Rado

 

Rado was one of the first watchmakers to claim scratch resistant for their watches and later were one of the first to make extensive use of ceramic in their cases. Rado first introduced the scratch resistant case in 1962 when they introduced the DiaStar 1. The DiaStar 1 had a metal case (either steel or gold, but there are reports of aluminium cases being produced as well) and was a pioneer in the use of sapphire crystal. In 1976, Rado Dia 67 was introduced. This was a case construction entirely covered by an edge-to-edge metalized sapphire crystal. They also introduced the use of ceramics in the bracelets.

And in 1990, Rado made the Ceramica, whose case was entirely constructed of high tech ceramics.  The Rado Sintra followed in 1993, was the first Rado watch made of cermet, a titanium-based ceramic combined with metal. In 1998 the Ceramica was the first Rado watch to feature their patented plasma high-tech ceramic. This technique allowed a variety of color and material combination to be used. The material exudes a metallic glow, but without the use of any metal at all.

 

Rado HyperChrome 1616

 

The first watch to captivate us from the Rado Baselworld 2016 collection is the HyperChrome 1616. The design is taken from Rado’s vintage Cape Horn collection, first introduced in the late 60s. 1616 was the year when two Dutch merchants pushed the limits of exploration and discovered Cape Horn, off the tip of South America. This year marks the 400 the anniversary of that amazing journey and the pioneering spirit of the journey.

 

Rado HyperChrome 1616 in high tech ceramic. The aesthetics are decidedly very 1970s, with its squarish, angular case which measures 46mm wide.

Rado HyperChrome 1616 in high tech ceramic. The aesthetics are decidedly very 1970s, with its squarish, angular case which measures 46mm wide.

 

The HyperChrome 1616 is a large watch, measuring some 46mm almost square, in either black matt and polished ceramic or hardened grade 5 itanium. The case is water resistant to 100m and is light, but ultra-durable – a signature of the brand’s scratch proof concept. We find the design intriguing. The aesthetic language is obviously taken a leaf or two from the design manuals of the 1970s, but yet, with the use of modern materials, the watch manages to look retro 1970, but also modern at the same time.

 

The 1970s inspired Rado Hyperchrome 1616 in titanium.

The 1970s inspired Rado Hyperchrome 1616 in titanium.

 

The movement is the ETA C07.621 automatic, with 25 jewels, and 80 hour power reserve.

Either version is S$4200 with GST in Singapore. Our pick is the titanium version, although ceramic is probably more Rado’s signature than the hardened titanium, but we find the aesthetics to be more appealing. The off white dial, with a slightly faded yellow gold colored applied indices and a large yellow gold colored moving anchor symbol is quite a sight to behold.

 

Rado True Open Heart

 

The other watch which attracted our attention is the Rado True Open Heart. Here Rado explores the use of a mother of pearl dial. Unlike most MOP dials which are mounted on a brass dial base, Rado managed to find a method to provide structural integrity to a MOP dial (0.6mm thick) which is only supported at the sides an a thimetal piece to the center.  The translucent and iridescent nature of the MOP allows a “peek-a-boo” glimpse into the movement, which is the same ETA C07.631 Automatic used in the Hyper Chrome 1616.

 

The Rado True Open Heart with a translucent mother of pearl dial which gives a glimpse of the movement within.

The Rado True Open Heart with a translucent mother of pearl dial which gives a glimpse of the movement within.

 

The watch is a limited edition of only 500 individually marked pieces in each of the two variants: either matt black or polished white (shown in the photograph above) high tech ceramic dials. The ceramic case, measures 40mm in diameter, and is 25% lighter than steel but yet with a hardness rating of 1,200 Vickers is five times as hard. As a non-metalic material, ceramic is also gentle and hypoallergenic.

Price is S$3,080 for the white ceramic case, and S$3,240 for the black ceramic case, both with GST.

 

The Rado HyperChrome Ultra Light

 

Rado returns to this theme of ultra light weight watches time and time again. And the HyperChrome Ultra Light is made of a trio of very light mateirals: silicon nitride, anodized aluminium, and harderned titanium. The watch is very minimalist in design and the featherweight theme goes well with it.

 

The Rado HyperChrome Ultra Light. The dial looks like it is 3 dimensional with a fold at 6 o'clock, but it is completely flat, the kink is just an optical illusion based on the way the dial is polished and finished.

The Rado HyperChrome Ultra Light. The dial looks like it is 3 dimensional with a fold at 6 o’clock, but it is completely flat, the kink is just an optical illusion based on the way the dial is polished and finished.

 

The case is a high tech silicon nitride (Si3N4) and is matt finished. Silicon nitride is a class of very hard ceramics. The construction is monobloc with sand blasted hardened grade 5 titanium inserts. The sapphire glass is treated with an anti-reflective coating on both sides, and the case is water resistant to 50m.

The movement is the ETA A31,L01 automatic movement with 21 jewels and made of black anodized aluminium, with a black oscillating rotor (in base metal).

We find the clean, minimalist dial to be a true attraction. The mysterious dial, sans markers complete this feel of simplicity, and adds to the how the watch feels on the wrist – very light. Retail in Singapore is S$4,420 with GST. and limited to an individually numbered edition of 500 pieces.

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