Rado isn’t a brand typically associated with dive watches, much less vintage-inspired ones. But amidst all the retro subaquatic goodness from the usual suspects that was on full display at Baselworld came this little sleeper, from a company known for its super slim ceramic dress watches no less. And, for me, it stole the show. This is the Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook.
The HyperChrome Captain Cook is based on a watch of the same name (minus the "HyperChrome") that Rado made in 1962, and it bears a faithful and restrained resemblance to that sweet little diver. Undertaking a project like this is akin to threading a needle, and Rado has done it excellently.
I say this diver is "restrained" because Rado resisted the urge to change much at all on this one, even opting to keep a very early-60s case size of 37 millimeters. The dial markers are still printed and not applied, and though they’ve been given a bit of the faux-patina treatment, it somehow doesn’t feel overdone here against the matte grey-brown dial with silver rehaut. The red numeral date wheel and quaint "Captain Cook" text are true to the original too. The anchor logo on the dial swivels as the watch moves, another historical Rado trademark. The box-shaped crystal sits high above the dial, looking every bit the vintage part – but is made from sapphire instead of vulnerable acrylic, one of only a few concessions to modernity.
The bezel rotates and lacks luminescent markings (again, true to the vintage version). But, instead of having an aluminum or Bakelite insert, it has one made from scratchproof ceramic. The case itself is made from polished stainless steel and it is 11mm thick. The caseback is a solid, screw-down type with three seahorses engraved on it and the text "One out of 1962" around the perimeter. This is the total number made in the limited edition, and it’s of course a reference to the year this series of watches named for the British sea captain first debuted.
The watch comes on a simple brown leather strap with pin buckle. Inside ticks an ETA movement, the C07.611 used in some form by several of the Swatch Group brands. It’s a fine motor that boasts an impressive 80 hours of power reserve.
Rado also showed off a women’s version with white dial and bezel and diamond markers, and a beefy 45mm version made from titanium with 20ATM of pressure resistance. For my money though, the vintage-inspired model here is the one to have. Rado is quick to say that the HyperChrome Captain Cook is not a dive watch, but with 100 meters of water resistance, a legible dial, oversized hands, and a rotating bezel, it would be more than adequate for shallow reef-combing, especially while wearing a rattly twin-hose aqualung, rubber suit, and oval mask.
The limited edition Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook will go on sale this spring with a price of around $1,800.
For more, visit Rado online.