RADO HyperChrome Tennis Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition
Game, set and match!
Every year, Rado adds a new product reference to its top-of-the-line Rado HyperChrome Chronograph collection. Even though the brand is focusing on introducing re-issues of vintage iconic pieces, like the Rado Captain Cook Automatic 42mm and the Rado Original Captain MKII to name a few, the Swiss brand has never stopped launching new limited edition variants of their signature HyperChrome Chronograph collection, and 2019 is no different.
A common feature to all the Rado HyperChrome Chronographs is the combination of four different materials. Most of them are a Rado's patent and confirm the brand as a leader in offering multi-material products in the luxury accessible segment. The 2019 Rado Hyperchrome Tennis Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition is, again, the only automatic chronograph ever made to combine, in this case, plasma ceramic, Ceramos™, steel, and titanium.
The case is a single piece of matte black high-tech plasma ceramic, whose ceramic bezel is filled with white lacquer providing a green luminescence over the tachymetric scale. The case-side inserts are in steel that has undergone a surface hardening treatment, along with crown and Chrono pushers. The case-back is in ceramics, too, whereas the bracelet is a combination of polished and matte links crafted in Ceramos™. Last but not least, the triple folding clasp is in titanium on the inside, paired to an external part in Ceramos™.
This uncommon bond of materials makes the Rado HyperChrome Tennis Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition hard to categorize and manufacture, too, considering how difficult it is to seamlessly combine materials that are so different from each other in terms of tolerances. Manufacturing and assembly processes are by far more challenging and less-standardized than those needed to craft the same watch in steel.
At first glance, the product catalog has a wide, somehow too much broad, offering, and is hard to understand what Rado Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph to choose from and grab the differences between one product and another. The term "Tennis" states this is not a standard Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph but a limited series (999 pieces) of a collection that includes three product variations, as many as are the tennis courts' surfaces available. This specific version sports a blue dial that mimics an indoor tournament's hard surface, such as a Taraflex™ made one, for example, while the other two limited editions available sport a green or brown dial instead.
The blue dial is not polished nor matte; it has a vertically brushed finish coupled to rhodium treated applied Arabic numerals. It's a combination I generally appreciate, and I prefer to others where it seems that Rado has created a two-counter configuration out of a V-shaped three-counter displacement. However, I like a standard Rado HyperChrome Chronograph's baton indexes over the Arabic numerals, since the latter tend to dilute the HyperChrome's identity too much, in my opinion.
The Rado HyperChrome Tennis Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition is pleasing and has a remarkable build quality. It is lighter than you might expect despite the 45mm large and 13mm thick case, whose resistance to scratches is higher than any competitor's; it is technically reliable too, thanks to the adoption of the ETA2894-2 mechanical movement, whose winding rotor has a signature Rado design. However, 42 hours of power reserve are not too much for a timepiece that's so innovative inside and out, whose provider ETA is committed to always designing something ahead of its competitors. With a Euro 4,700 sticker price, I think a Chronometer certification would have added even more value to such an outstanding timepiece, an excellent and original option to any standard mechanical chronograph in steel.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®