Rado Hyperchrome 1616 - Today I'm wearing
It was 1616 when two Dutch explorers, Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire, discovered Cape Horn and it was in the 60s/70s when Rado paid its tribute to that discovery with the release of its laconically-named Rado Cape Horn. The Cape Horn timepiece was crafted in different versions, among which is the Rado Cape Horn 1000 that sported both the day and the date displayed inside two big overlapping windows that were located in a vertical position at 6 o’clock, applied big indexes built in a triangular shape and a thin crown that was partially hidden within the case. Four hundred years later, Rado decided to celebrate again this discovery with the launch of a modern version of the Cape Horn called Rado Hyperchrome 1616, an homage to the geometric and highly-squared style of the 70s, an hyperbolic vintage model among collections that are more and more projected into the future.
The original case of the Cape Horn in this version measured 38mm, the case of the Rado Hyperchrome 1616 has grown significantly in size to then reach the 46mm-threshold in width, 45.5mm in height and 13.7 in thickness. These sizes, together with the squared shape of the case and the thickness of the domed sapphire glass, make this watch quite imposing when compared to a similar round shape, on top of everything, the crown-protection-system makes it look even bigger. Rado has often “baffled” us with odd shapes, from the extremely-thin and minimal shape of the Rado Ultra-Light to the more elaborated shape of the R-One, the manufacturer has played with titanium to reach a superior anti-scratching-resistance resulting in a surface hardness of up to 1,000 Vickers. This is one of the very few cases Rado has used titanium to craft a timepiece’s case and it is the first time in the world of watch-making that titanium is both so light and hard on the surface, a characteristic that Rado can’t do without (another example is the Citizen Super-Titanium).
The final result is an imposing timepiece whose polishing is similar to that of a Hardmetal-cased watch but half as heavy. It is a pity that Rado decided not to dare a bit more and add an extra version that includes a bracelet with links, a very popular choice in the 70s that Rado totally owned thanks to a meshed bracelet design that was extremely original and links that maintained their original shape even after being used non-stop for 20 years. The Rado Hyperchrome 1616 is equipped with an aged-leather strap that is brown in colour, an extensible deployant clasp that has been treated on the surface using the same technique as the one used on the case. The dirty-white dial and the applied indexes crafted in a golden colour complete Rado’s “vintage re-issue” operation that also includes the rotating anchor, a clear reference to watches like my Captain Cook. This is possibly the most extreme transformation that the brand from Lengnau has ever carried out in the last few years. The most obvious reference to the modern world is the automatic caliber that guarantees up to 80 hours of power reserve, it derives from that family of latest generation automatic calibers which we have gotten to know through Tissot, Mido and Hamilton.
For the real hardcore aficionados who only opt for ceramic-made Rado watches, the manufacturer has created the Rado Hyperchrome 1616 Black that features a single-block case made of black ceramic and the case-back made of PVD-treated titanium. These characteristics are easily recognizable with the naked eye due to the big difference between the matted ceramic and the surface treatment that the case-back has undergone, on which Rado has also engraved the symbol of the Hyperchrome collection.
The retail price of the Rado Hyperchrome 1616 reaches the psychological 3,000-euro-threshold, not exactly a reasonable price if you compare it to that of an Hyperchrome Chrono but flagship timepieces are like that and the 1616 is actually a flagship watch, an invite to all those who have a nostalgic memory of the past and I have to admit that, in my humble opinion, the titanium-made version of this timepiece, particularly, is an extremely beautiful purchase proposal.
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C @Horbiter