Baselworld 2013: Rado

Jun 02, 2013,09:49 AM

Rado at Baselworld 2013
presented by Marcus Hanke

Since about twenty five years, the brand name Rado is identified with watches made from ceramics. At first, many people doubted that the material proved to be good enough for everyday use. Its hardness was seen also as its weakest point, since ceramics are brittle. However, Rado has proven to master the material marvelously, and today no other watch brand is able to offer a similar variety of shapes and colours in ceramic watch cases.

This year, Rado continues its trend towards mechanical watches. While the uncomplicated quartz movement remains an important pillar, especially for ladies’ timepieces, most novelties shown are equipped with mechanical movements. These, however, remain standard pieces, with one exception there are no unique mechanisms or complications.

Most chronographs are based on the compact ETA 2894 modular movement, the three hands-timepieces on the ETA 2892A2 and its derivates, for example the GMT-variant 2893. Clearly, Rado’s uniqueness lies in the magnificent ceramic casework.

This year’s novelties are concentrated in two lines, the Diamaster and the Hyperchrome collections.

Diamaster is a classical Rado name, but the new Diamaster series only has the name in common with its predecessor. The new Diamaster chronographs feature a more conventionally-shaped, circular case with common lugs. Its uniqueness lies in the ceramic finish. First, there is a bold looking Diamaster chronograph in flat black.

The casework is made from so-called “high-tech ceramics”, which mainly consists of extremely fine-grained zirconium oxide powder, that is moulded and then sintered at high temperature. The novelty is the flat black finish of the case and the bracelet.

Technically even more fascinating is a procedure called plasma-treatment of ceramic pieces. Here, the various parts, as cases or bracelet links, that already have received their complete finishing, including polishing, are placed in a plasma oven that is heated to about 20,000 degrees Celsius. Methane and hydrogen are injected and react with the surface of the ceramic components: within their uppermost layers, the oxide from the zirconium oxide is replaced by carbon. This makes the pieces even harder than they originally were. Additionally, the process, which is exclusive to Rado, results in a metallic grey finish. personally, I would rather compare it to the appearance of hematite, also called kidney ore.

The plasma treated Diamaster chronograph is available with black or white dial, its diameter is 45mm.

Also a member of the Diamaster family is the RHW1, a very interesting hand-winding watch. Its movement is the well-known ETA/Unitas 6497-2, but in its best variant with the expanded 56 hours power reserve. but the movement is unique in another way: its plates and bridges are made from aluminum that is chemically blackened.

Even more unique is the RHW1’s case: It is an ultra-light composite of ceramics with metal oxides, most notably silicium and titanium nitride, resulting in a wonderfully bronze tone. The caseback is made from titanium that has been PVD treated to get the same colour as the ceramic case. the dial with the highly stylised Roman numerals reflects the perfect combination of the classic movement with the high-tech case.

The Hyperchrome collection features the modern modern case designs, the shapes are flowing and assure a perfect fit on the wrist. New is a series of three chronographs in black with three different touches colour: the Court Collection, symbolising the three different material of tennis courts: hard, grass and clay courts.

The 45mm high-tech ceramic cases have stainless steel crowns and pushers and are available with ceramic bracelets or rubber straps.

A - huge - bit more conspicuous is the Hyperchrome Glam Slam, a tribute to Miami’s glamour. Everything other than humble, this chronograph has its dial, markers and hands made from 18k gold, also the pushers and case side inserts are made from gold. Well, there are worse ways to show one’s wealth, for sure.

Apparently, gold is reserved for the glamourous gentlemen, while it is a well-established fact in these circles that only diamonds are girls’ best friends: The ladies’ “Glam Slam” is a 36mm white watch with self-winding ETA 2681 movement and lots of diamonds on the bezel and the case sides.

Let let us turn our backs to the glamour of the rich and beautiful, only to return into the soberness of our bourgeois lives: The Hyperchrome UTC is a very nice watch with second time zone, equipped with the ETA 2893.

Several years ago, every serious watch brand needed one in its line-up: a split seconds chronograph. However, this complication is expensive to produce and to assemble and adjust. Apparently, this effort and the resulting price label could not really be explained to the customers. Consequently, the split-second, or rattrapante chronographs all but vanished from the market. Thankfully, Rado keeps this traditional mechanism alive by releasing a limited edition D-Star Rattrapante Chronograph, equipped with a modified 7750 movement.

Last, but not least, a highly interesting quartz novelty should be mentioned here, the Esenza Ceramic Touch. This innovative ladies’ timepiece does not have a crown for setting the time. This function is replaced by a mere move of a finger tip: Under the ceramic case skin, there are placed four electrodes. Together with the skin contact with the stainless steel back, these electrodes close a circuit as soon as a fingertip touches the ceramic case. A longer pressure at 8 is activating the time setting function, then a wipe on the left or the right case side will start the tiny electric drives that move the hour and the minute hands. Changing the time zone is therefore a matter of a simple wipe. I am sure that ladies will appreciate this innovative method of setting the time quickly. However, it should also be clear that a really exact setting down to the minute is practically impossible. but who, if not the beautiful half of humanity can afford the luxury of being unpunctual?

This message has been edited by Marcus Hanke on 2013-06-02 09:50:08

This message has been edited by AndrewD on 2013-06-08 05:21:48

  login to reply

Comments: view entire thread


Didn't know Rado evolved this much....

 By: KIH : June 3rd, 2013-20:44
.. Hyperchrome collection is my favorite! Thanks as always, Marcus! Ken

nice selection, especially the diamaster range

 By: G99 : June 4th, 2013-01:32
not on my shopping list though as i have a ceramic, a bronze and a lot of chrono's. i really like their tungsten cased re edition from last year or the year before. now that might be on my shopping list. thanks again Marcus for all your efforts Graham