RADO Golden Horse XL Automatic
A safe choice.
By introducing the Golden Horse collection, Rado keeps traveling back in time and discovering timepieces that marked the early years of its journey as a watchmaker. Rado is the youngest high-volume Swiss watchmaker to ever appear in the headings on any magazine, and talking vintage in an industry where its peers are in some cases older than two centuries, might make you smile. Yet, the sixties are a long way back, and many Rado vintage pieces are, today, collectors' pieces; they also are in a near-mint condition given the sturdiness of their hard-metal case and bracelet.
The Rado Golden Horse 1957, a lovely three-hand wristwatch with date window and purple-red smoked dial produced in 1957 pieces, paved the way to a broader collection whose products include variants that draw inspiration from the 1957 original Golden Horse but come with an oversized case compared to the limited edition's 37mm flagship model, along with a strap or a bracelet option. This operation replicates what Rado did when it introduced the Rado Captain Cook collection, made up of a vintage lover ready wristwatch and various 42mm variants geared towards attracting new customers and increase sales volumes.
Featuring a 41.8mm case, across, the Rado Golden Horse XL Automatic is perhaps not the first watch you would think of while approaching a brand like Rado. The slightly knurled bezel, here crafted in high-tech plasma ceramic, was very popular in the late fifties, even though it is today definitely associated with one brand. The steel case is quite large, to be honest, for a classic-looking watch, but it is surprisingly comfortable; I believe Rado did a great job in improving product wearability. In fact, when I first saw the folding buckle, I was afraid I had to deal with another watch (generally speaking) ready to pinch my wrist.
What I can confirm instead is that it is easy to wear (the strap can be quickly swapped thanks to a hidden fast release lever): Rado designed a folding buckle that, unlike others, is self-adjustable thanks to a sliding micro-regulating device. It is simple and effective; why has no other brand conceived something similar, considering how hard it is to adjust and wear a watch, especially when it comes as a like-new condition?
A flat case back and a thin side (10.4mm) both help to enhance on-the-wrist comfort. However, I would have gone for a closed case-back because the mechanical movement is as technically excellent, it runs for no less than eighty hours when fully wound, as it is poorly appealing, as that's the case instead with a HyperChrome Chronograph Automatic, for example, whose winding rotor showcases a specific and more sophisticated design.
The dial carries the double sea-horse logo along with applied gold-colored indexes, and here is where the watch stylistically stands out: its sunray finished gray dial turns from a dark gray or almost black tone to iridescent light gray under direct light. Retailing at €1,960, the Rado Golden Horse XL Automatic is borderline between a timepiece featuring cutting-edge materials and pure classicism. If you are not an "early adopter" nor a vintage fan too, after all, a Golden Horse might represent your most reasonable timepiece to access the Rado universe.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®