RADO Captain Cook Automatic 42mm
I'm glad to see that Rado keeps re-issuing its historic timepieces and enlarging the current Captain Cook collection. That collection has a huge following and is equally appreciated by vintage Rado lovers and millennials, whose admiration for the brand's products grows at a steady pace. The 2019 Rado Captain Cook collection follows the likes of successful watches like the Rado Original Captain Cook MKII and the newly released Rado Golden Horse 1957, a faithful re-edition of the original Golden Horse, that was on display last year at Villa Gamberaia, Florence, during the International Press Launch of the Rado True Thinline Nature Collection.
Green, blue, and brown color combinations to symbolize nature.
Three new colored versions join the current collection (with the addition of a black one), and two of them are pictured here. The renewed Captain Cook range was initially launched in 2017, showcasing two slightly different designs: a hefty 45mm large Rado Hyperchrome Captain Cook and an accurate replica of the first-ever made, the 37mm wide 1962-piece limited edition Rado Captain Cook Automatic.
Rado has an unconventional approach, aesthetically speaking, when it comes to drawing inspiration from the past: it designs a replica, geared towards vintage replica addicts, and a more modern take on the original one, that blends past and present as the HyperChrome Captain Cook did. Two years after the official launch, the product family broadens with the addition of a list of 42mm sized Captain Cooks, to close the gap between small and big timepieces.
Frankly, the 42mm case is a winner: the vintage-inspired lines, the elongated and straight lugs, the curved-on-the-side yet flat-in-the-center sapphire glass-box, and, finally, the 12.1mm thickness make this Captain Cook look clean and graceful. The 2019 collection welcomes three color schemes: the ceramic inlay on the rotating bezel comes in vivid green, dark blue, or brown, thus mimicking one-to-one the Rado True Thinline Nature collection.
A journey into the 60s.
The sixties reshaped politics, culture, music and, as far as mechanical watches are concerned, welcomed some of the most desirable watches in decades. Old and new brands (with no historical roots in watchmaking) keep re-issuing or re-inventing vintage divers' watches from that age, for example.
Among the new releases, I think the Rado Captain Cook 42mm Automatic with green dial and matching green ceramic bezel is divine, first and foremost when associated to the steel mesh bracelet, showcasing a slim and long folding clasp, with the embossed Rado brand logo on it. It pays tribute to the old Rado watches, except for that patented surface treatment that made them the first virtually scratch-proof watches ever. The inlay is an exquisitely-engineered ceramic ring, whose thickness is smaller than that of an HyperChrome Captain Cook's. In this variant it is in light, vivid green, coupled to a glossy green smoked dial; all in all, execution and style are flawless.
The second one comes with an oceanic dark blue mated to a glossy blue smoked dial instead. It is essentially the same watch, yet the latter doesn't feel as sexy as its green sibling. The truth is that blue is abused these days, while green is uncommon to a vintage divers' watch instead. At least, I would have preferred to compare them like for like (steel on steel).
Regarding details, the Rado Captain Cook's main design attribute is the visual contrast between the concave bezel and the sapphire glass, that makes it mesmerizing. As an option, or a replacement strap, Rado offers a strap in soft leather with one stitching per side, that would have worked dramatically on a pin buckle, as on the 37mm sized Captain Cook. In either case, elongated straight lugs help to make the watch very comfortable, and "wearability" is where most product managers are focusing their efforts.
Eighty hours of power reserve: let's talk about it.
Style and comfort on the wrist end up with sidelining the product specifications: the Rado Captain Cook 42mm Automatic benefits of the most recent upgrades at ETA included the popular three-hand mechanical caliber with the date and eighty hours of power reserve, that outperforms the competition in this price range (2,020€). If you compare Rado to other brands belonging to the Swatch Group, this performance is often emphasized on some brands (Mido for example), although many are the distinctive features between this movement and its competitors' within the Group, like the Chronometer certification or the silicon balance spring, for instance.
However, I think this performance is so distinctive in today's competitive scenario, that each brand should always emphasize it, considering that a long power reserve is what people appreciate the most in everyday use, especially so during the weekend where many usually replace their mechanical watch with a multi-functional smartwatch.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®