Review: Rado Captain Cook Over-Pole

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When Rado first reintroduced the Captain Cook line in 2017, we were pleasantly surprised.

In a world where the scene was still dominated by larger watches, the 37mm vintage-inspired timepiece was ironically a breath of fresh air. Several iterations came along to meet the demand of consumers, but in our opinion, there is still nothing much that beats the original. Perhaps, until the launch of the Over-Pole.

Rado Captain Cook Over-Pole

The new Captain Cook Over-Pole is a remake of the original, which was a standalone collection of its own in the past. Unlike the usual watches from the Captain Cook collection, we have replaced the 60-minutes bezel insert with one that is fitted with names of 24 cities – akin to a world timer. Strictly speaking, the Over-Pole is not exactly a world timer, but it uses a relatively more rudimentary system to tell time across 24 time zones – in a rather effective manner, no less.

We have had the chance to spend some time with one of the latest novelties from Rado, and here are our thoughts on the timepiece.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

One of the key reasons behind our adoration of the Captain Cook lies in its modest case size, at 37mm. We are very glad to see Rado adopting the same case dimension for the Over-Pole, which we thought is a great homage to the original version that was launched in 1962.

Personally, the 37mm case fits very well on the wrist (the writer’s wrist is around 6.75 inches in circumference). Granted, some might feel that the watch might perhaps appear to be too small on a larger wrist, but given that the brand is going for the more dated look in this scenario, there is nothing more appropriate than a timepiece that is fitted and designed with a smaller case.

The key difference for this timepiece, as mentioned earlier, lies in its bezel. Here, Rado introduced 24 cities on the bezel – each well-engraved onto the ceramic bezel insert. The cities each represent a time zone, with the two dozen cities then representing a total of 24 different time zones.

How it works is rather simple. Given the example in the picture above, Shanghai (local city) is aligned at 12pm (according to the 24-hours indicator at the peripheral of the dial). Now, at a single glance, one can then tell the current time in another city (say, the time in Geneva is currently 5am). The bezel can be easily rotated bidirectionally to adjust to one’s local city, which we think is rather useful especially if one travels frequently across different time zones.

Granted, this is operationally not as advanced as the Louis Cottier world timer mechanism, but there is something rather brilliant with such a simple but effective way to tell time across the globe. In addition, it is simple to operate, and it is actually quite intuitive once the user gets the hang of it.

Next, we have the dial. Rado had opted for a rather retro design here, with a black to silver gradient dial that is accompanied by faceted indices. We love the little nuances on the dial as well, such as the free-spinning anchor logo, the similar font used for the word “Over-Pole” vis-à-vis the original, dot lume plots, as well as the red numerals on the date wheel. All these minute details add up, which makes the Captain Cook Over-Pole such a charming timepiece.

Completing the looks of the watch are a pair of well-polished dauphine hands. The hands are also filled with luminescence material, which allows the user to tell the time in low lighting conditions. Alas, on this note, as the bezel insert and the 24-hour markers are not filled with lume, one will not be able to use the world-time function in the dark.

Overall, we absolutely love the looks of the Captain Cook Over-Pole. The watch is very charismatic and good-looking, and we think Rado absolutely hit a homerun with the reintroduction of their version of the world time function. There is just something rather special about this watch, and we have to say that we are pleasantly surprised by it every single time we steal a glance at this timepiece.

The Movement: Calibre R862

Powering the watch is the Calibre R862. This is another treat for watch collectors, whom we reckon will be pleased to know that the watch is fitted with a manual-winding movement. Interestingly, the original Over-Pole in the 1960s comes with an automatic movement.

The Calibre R862 is no slouch, as it boasts a power reserve of around 80 hours. In addition, it has a date indicator as well, which should provide all the necessary functions that most would expect from a timepiece.

The movement is proudly displayed at the back, via a sapphire caseback. The finishing of the movement is industrial, which is still rather decent for a watch at this price point. There is nothing to really shout about, but at the same time, there is also no reason to complain about it. Overall, we are pretty satisfied with the movement.

Competitive Landscape

The Rado Captain Cook Over-Pole is limited to a production run of 1,962 pieces, and it is priced at S$3,600. It is noteworthy to point out that each set comes with two strap options – which include a vintage-styled “beads of rice” stainless steel bracelet. Value-wise, the Captain Cook Over-Pole certainly offers quite a fair bit.

On the subject of entry-level watches with the world-time function, here are a few contenders:

We begin the article with a brethren from the Swatch Group family: Tissot Heritage Navigator Automatic 160th Anniversary COSC (photo above courtesy of Tissot). This particular Tissot is also inspired by a timepiece from the yesteryear, with a rather nifty world time complication that can be adjusted with just a single crown (together with the usual time-setting function). The watch is based on the self-winding ETA 2893-3, and it is as reliable and functional as it can get. The last known retail price is approximately S$2,100.

Next, we have another strong contender in the form of the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture (picture above courtesy of Frederique Constant). This is perhaps what one would imagine a world timer to look like, with a classic interpretation of the complication based on Louis Cottier’s design. This is admittedly a rather handsome and stunning piece, although it will perhaps be more suitable for an executive who is constantly in business attire. The Frederique Constant is priced at S$6,700.

Lastly, we have a timepiece from Germany: the NOMOS Zürich World Time. NOMOS is known for their simple aesthetics, and the Zurich World Time is perhaps one of the most minimalistic and cleanest watches with the world time complication. We love the design, as well as the impressive in-house movement designed by the Glashütte-based manufacturer. This is the priciest timepiece amongst the lot, at S$7,820.

Concluding Thoughts

It is difficult not to sound biased, but we absolutely loved every minute that we have spent with the Captain Cook Over-Pole. This is such a charming timepiece, with great thoughtfulness in the way it was designed. For the lack of a better description, this is an ode to the romantic watch collector. After all, who would have really produced a 37mm timepiece, with a manual-winding movement and a slightly quirky function?

We just have a small request. Rado, if you are reading this, please do not create further iterations of this timepiece. We implore you not to create an Over-Pole with a larger case, nor play around with different case materials or dial colours. Just leave the Over-Pole as it is – this is a special watch, and it should always remain this way.


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