Buying (and perhaps collecting) watches – The Rado D-Star Automatic Chronograph Rattrapante Limited Edition
When it comes to the word “flagship” and how it applies to watchmaking, there are a few things that you need to know. In watchmaking, a flagship (a concept that applies to various industry sectors) refers to a timepiece produced in limited numbers, that is to say a specific brand's top offering, which has been conceived to boost the brand's awareness and attract new customers, while showing the manufacturer's technical or aesthetic prowess at the same time.
Imagine a brand, whose flagship is a split seconds chronograph, something very hard to find today unless you venture into watchmaking's premium sector (that probably means IWC and some other independent brands), a timepiece that is one of the most sought after complications by chrono addicts. Today, double chronographs are so rare on the market that connoisseurs are often forced to turn to vintage watches and, when those few brands offering this type of watch are not even making an effort to advertize them on the market, the search becomes even harder.
This is what happened a couple of years ago with a timepiece called Rado D-Star Automatic Chronograph Rattrapante Limited Edition, an item which was produced in 250 pieces only and that had occasionally appeared on a few professional websites during the peak of Baselworld 2013, but then had suddenly disappeared at end of the fair. You are probably wondering why am I actually writing about this timepiece, and let me please tell you that I have a bunch of good reasons to do so. The first reason is that I like this watch, I do love chronos but I also think that, somehow, they all look the same, so that's why I'm totally fascinated by double chronographs: the idea of being able to measure two different events simultaneously makes them far more appealing than the simple addition of a single central seconds chrono hand.
This is the only 100%-ceramic-made-watch equipped with a split seconds complication and this feature makes it unique in the world of watchmaking. I know that this attribute could appear meaningless and useless to most of those who are not big fans of black ceramic watches and actually find them rather cheapish (I always find myself trying to explain that, from the point of view of technology, it is actually the other way round...). The Rado D-Star Automatic Chronograph Rattrapante Limited Edition is part of a successful collection that, in terms of appeal (and sales), has been recently overtaken by the Hyperchrome collection (please find the the in-depth review of the Rado Hyperchrome Match Point Special Edition on here), Compared to a Hyperchrome the style of this timepiece might appear less refined, less “everyday oriented” and even “tougher”, but it is also bolder and more minimalist at the same time. Officially, the 45,4mm-wide-case should be matte black, whereas it is actually greyish and the soft touch of the ceramic material on your wrist is just perfect, especially when it makes it feel as if you were wearing some sort of a sweat-proof watch on a hot Italian summer day.
The dial is simple and neat, with the seconds counter a bit undersize in comparison to the other two registers. The dial also features streamlined applied flat indexes and a small touch of red, which has been used for the additional chrono seconds hand only, and the laconic, yet powerful, wording “rattrapante” printed at 3 o'clock. The combination of black (actually grey) and red is a perfect match. It looks as if the person who designed this watch had a very clear idea of the concept of “proportions” in his mind, but is this watch actually perfect? No, it is not! If you actually know how complications work you will immediately notice that, when you reset your watch, the chrono hands oscillate a bit too much around the zero position. Truth is that you should also keep in mind that this is the most affordable rattrapante chrono you will ever find on the market (if I am not mistaken the 2013 selling price was 4,500€) and this consideration alone is more than enough to make it a watch that you should buy (if you're actually able to find one on the market...)
Does its rarity automatically make it a collectable? It is a bit dangerous and difficult to say whether this timepiece will become a future collectable but, love it or hate, I am sure that its style will alway maintain its appeal because of its neat and clean appearance and the use of the ceramic material that also makes this watch virtually scratch-proof: another very important feature, which always makes a huge difference.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter