It is fair to say that as we have been writing and collecting watches for quite a while now, we can see some overarching themes and similar design cues in the world of horology. More often than not, there is this sense of congruence and homogeneousness amongst the different (and, fair to say, competing) brands. Pretty ironic, isn’t it?
That was the reason why, when we first saw the new Rado True Square Tej Chauhan, we just had the strong urge to review this watch. Launched late last year, the True Square Tej Chauhan is a bold and vibrant piece that looks pretty much unlike any other watches in the market currently. And we meant it in a highly positive way.
Review: Rado True Square Tej Chauhan
The Rado True Square Tej Chauhan is priced at S$2,710.
The Rado True Square Tej Chauhan is a collaboration, as the name suggests, between the Swiss watch manufacturer and Tej Chauhan. Rado is known to do such collaborations in the past, where it actively engages with designers to input their thoughts and designs into the watches produced by the Lengnau-based manufacturer.
Now, a little more about the designer. A British industrial designer by trade, Tej Chauhan is an award-winning professional that is known to incorporate immersive experience and cutting-edge design cues. He is a practitioner of the concept of Emotive Industrial Design, and some of his most well-known works include the Nokia 7280 and 7600 mobile phones, amongst the many other collaborations with brands such as Tesco and The Body Shop.
The designer instinct is certainly well thought-out and displayed in this particular timepiece. Featuring a Sci-fi theme, the watch aims to bring back the future in style – with a myriad of curious but brilliant retro-inspired touches that bring out the character of the watch.
After all these, it is not difficult to say that we have been pretty excited about this True Square. But does it actually live up to its hype? We took this watch out for two weeks to find out.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The Rado True Square Tej Chauhan is a bold and conversational piece, to say the least. This is partially attributed to the 38mm square case, which is made with high-tech ceramic – in bright yellow, no less. The use of ceramic cases is no stranger to the brand, and in fact they are one of the pioneers in pushing this material – which is known to be both light and hard. While the square case design is not entirely new, but this – in yellow – is a breath of fresh air for us. Its combination is brilliant.
The theme of yellow continues, to the extended lugs and the strap. The extended lug is a rectangular piece of ceramic, which links the case to the strap. Rado specially procured a yellow leather strap to match the watch, with an interesting design that has the recurring theme of rectangles “pillows”. We like the concept very much, although we think that it might be slightly less practical considering that the bright strap might be relatively more prone to staining. But then again, this is not the kind of watch that you might see yourself wearing regularly on a daily basis anyways.
Next, we move on to the dial. The black dial, notably, is dominated with contrasting coloured lines. The centre of the dial is filled with silver concentric circles, which gives off the appearance of a radar screen. The concentric circles are flanked by the straight line indices, in which the last quarter of the hour has indices that are painted in blue. The dial is not flat, but raised at the sides, like a bowl, gently sloping up in a curve till it becomes the rehaut. The effect is rather interesting. The overall idea is great, and we like how Tej has managed to execute this design without making the individual components look out of place.
Complementing the dial are the hands and the date window. The watch is fitted with a pair of contemporary-styled triangle (hours) and stick (minutes) hands, as well a bright orange seconds hand. This is also paired with an intriguing date display, in which it features a modern neon orange font that is designed specially by Tej Chauhan. The use of such modern-looking hands and date display work rather well with the overall theme of the watch, and it accentuates the boldness of the piece.
Finally, we would also like to highlight the sapphire crystal that is used on the watch. One item to note is how the sapphire crystal was cut – while it is square-ish in nature, the crystal has a circular cut-out with the edges being tapered. It is a small detail, but that alone allows the concentric circles on the dial to stand out. A minute, but certainly brilliant touch.
The Movement: ETA C07.611
Powering the watch is the ETA C07.611, a self-winding movement that has been featured in numerous watches within the Swatch Group. Some of the main talking points include the special date disc (as mentioned above), as well as the impressive power reserve of around 80 hours.
This is a base movement, and we expect only the basic forms of finishing. A small portion of the movement can be seen through the small cutout at the back, which also reiterates that the movement is not the main feature of this particular piece. We are perfectly fine with that, as the pièce de résistance of the watch has always been its design. In addition, at the price point that Rado is putting up for this piece, this is certainly very reasonable.
The Rado True Square Tej Chauhan is priced at S$2,710. At this price point, we have to admit that the True Square is indeed a very well-priced piece for something that is so fascinating. In the world of watches at this era, it is certainly hard to come by. When it comes to competitors, there are frankly not many competition out there for the Rado – both in terms of the concept, or the price point. Our focus on the landscape is design collaborations which turn up as landmarks of their own.
The first watch that we have is the Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Regulator. As suggested by the nomenclature, the 40mm watch is designed by Alain Silberstein – an architect and watchmaker who is known for his eponymous brand in the past. This is the first of a handful other collaborations for Louis Erard, which now also features Vianney Halter and Fehr (a dialmaker from La Chaux-de-Fonds).
The Silberstein edition is limited to 178 pieces each for two different variants, the vibrant timepiece is priced at CHF 2,800 (approximately S$4,150) for the stainless steel/white dial, and an additional premium of CHF 100 for the black PVD/black dial model.
Next, we have Bvlgari Aluminium Steve Aoki Special Edition. For the uninitiated, Steve Aoki is a world-renowned artiste/DJ/producer, and he is known as one of the most in-demand entertainers in the world.
This particular watch features Steve’s signature logo, with a compelling luminescence dial that comes to life in the dark. The 40mm watch is definitely an interesting marriage, featuring the brand’s signature design and a cool touch in the form of the dial. It is priced at S$4,260.
Lastly, we have the Ikepod Megapod x Tom Christopher. Ikepod is another unusual brand, with a rich history even prior to its revival in 2016. Known to have worked with collaborators in the past, this particular collaboration with Tom Christopher – an expressionist artist – brings radiance to this curiously-shaped conceptual watch.
The new Megapod x Tom Christopher is fitted with a Miyota movement, and it is priced at CHF 1,500 (approximately S$2,220). This is another cool and casual piece to add into a collection, and we will say that it is perhaps one of the closest competitors (out of the handful) to the Rado True Square Tej Chauhan that we are reviewing today.
We are very pleased with the new True Square Tej Chauhan by Rado. We like the boldness that was displayed, as well as how Rado had chosen to do something different with this watch. They certainly deserve our utmost respect for that.
Beyond the design, we also do applaud Rado for pricing it at a relatively accessible level. In today’s terms, it is not easy to get something of such calibre below S$3,000. On top of that, we were told that this is not a limited edition piece – which will allow collectors to have more opportunity to own this conversational timepiece.
Overall, the watch did live up to our expectations. In fact, we dare say that it surpassed it. Initially, we still did have some minor reservations about how it will look on the wrist. Two weeks later, we have to say that the concern was pretty unfounded – and in fact, we do think that it is a great piece to pair with any casual attire. We just could not get enough of this!
Finally, Rado – if you are reading this, good job on this and please give collectors more of such watches in the future.
Photographed in our studio. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC 4/120 and HC 2.8/80 with H28 extension tube. Profoto strobes.