Rado watches are quite simply, unique. The company has an obsession in making fine watches from the most sophisticated and technically advanced of man-made of materials. Reading a little bit about how these watches are made is like reading a piece of sci-fi literature. One can’t quite believe that such incredible, ground-breaking science is used to make something that merely tells us the time.
Rado is a comparative new-comer in Swiss watch making. It didn’t begin making watches until 1917 – most top Swiss watch manufacturers were already making watches for over a hundred years – and, it didn’t really become a well-known manufacturer until the 1960s when it produced the Rado DiaStar, the World’s first scratchproof watch.
It would be true to say that other manufacturers specialized in making ever more complicated movements – Patek Philippe watches for example – or found niches in diving or the aeronautic industry – like Rolex, Panerai and Breitling – but Rado has mainly specialized in making its watches indestructible.
That’s not to say that the movements in Rado watches are inferior, quite the opposite. Each movement, whether it’s quartz, mechanical or chronograph comes with a guarantee of having a Swiss quality watch movement, which has been extensively tested at the Rado factory.
But, without doubt it’s the materials used in Rado watches that makes them unique. You’ll find materials that are used by other watch manufacturers, like sapphire crystal for the glass, titanium used on case backs and clasps, and rubber straps. However, it’s the developments and use of new materials like ceramics, hard metals and high-tech diamond coatings that’s totally different.
Many Rado watches are coated with a layer of synthetic diamond to make them almost scratchproof. This is achieved by transforming carbon into nano-crystalline diamond particles, which are amalgamated onto the hard metal watch case forming a homogenous diamond layer. The synthetic diamond is created in furnaces that approach the atmospheric pressure of Jupiter.
Likewise, the ceramics produced are also very scratch resistant while also being very skin-friendly. The manufacture of the hard metal used in the watches is also a complex process; tungsten- or titanium-carbide is pressed at 1000 bar and further compressed in a super hot furnace at 1450°C.
Using advanced manufacturing techniques to make new, hard materials is all well and good, but what makes Rado watches so desirable is how these materials are used to create simple, almost stark designs of wrist watch.
The Rado V10k watch exemplifies the unity of high-tech materials and modern design. The watch features a curved sapphire crystal; the case is high-tech synthetic diamond that blends seamlessly with the black caoutchouc strap. The dial is a simple as you can find on any watch; two white arms – hour and minute – and nothing else. You won’t even find a crown on the case – you set the time by use of a magnetic pin that is housed in the strap.
The Ceramica is another fine collection – my personal favorite. The case and strap links are made from high-gloss, scratch resistant ceramics, the glass is sapphire crystal and the clasp has a hidden push button deployment. Again the dial is simple, two simple, white hands, and unusual hour markers that run vertically down each side of the face.
Other Rado collections include the Sintra, Ovation, Anatom, Original, Cerix, and Esenza. Each collection offers something slightly different though each uses high-tech, hard materials.
There are a couple of points to be aware of with Rado watches. First, although there are often referred to as scratchproof, they can be scratched. Other materials that are in everyday use also approach diamond hardness; such as sandpaper, grindstones, granite surfaces and even concrete walls. Also, dropping the watch onto a hard surface can break them.
All watches are given a 30 meter water resistance certificate, however many household situations can mean water being applied that is close to the pressure of 30 meters, like power showers and Jacuzzis, so you should always first remove the watch. And, when changing the battery you should only use an authorized dealer to ensure the watch remains water-tight.
Rado watches aren’t to everyone’s liking. The designs are simple and can look distinctively retro at times. However, for those who appreciate the unique qualities of the materials used these watch are, and always have been, highly desirable.