RADO Original Captain Cook MKII and MKIII
Romance and Neo-vintage.
The presentation of RADO's Original Captain Cook MKII and MKIII is sweet tasting. In the early '60s ceramics, in watchmaking, was but a mirage however a young Swiss watch company made its debut with steel watches hardened with a special treatment making them resistant to scratches and shocks. It was the birth of RADO. While the market was absorbed with curiosity and admiration to professional deep diving and lunar landing, RADO shook the industry with a philosophy based on high resistance and innovative materials applied to models like Captain Cook which soon achieved cult status.
Re-issue past models is not a new strategy, many brands make use of it to elevate their perceived value...and it works. RADO, though a fairly new brand, enjoys quite a long list of fans avidly looking for of its watches from the '60s and '70s, just take a look at how many vintage RADOs are available on Chrono24 for example, with interesting achieved valuation. One of them, GMTSKY, has the largest selection and all its vintage RADOs have been totally refurbished to like new conditions.
Among them there are also Captain Cook whose modern versions, MKII and MKIII, were displayed at the RADO stand in Basel due for launch at year's end. The new models share with the originals the same spirit, a case vaguely reminiscent of chronographs very popular in those years, like the Flightmaster or the Heuer and equipped with professional diver's watch like specification.
The Captain Cook is the heir of my old Ticin (importer in Italy of RADO) and its dimensions are nearly the same, 37mm, the right size for a non circular case with a bubble sapphire glass. The decision not to exagerate with dimensions is dictated by the desire to keep it similar to the original without altering its formal balance incorporating the diving scale usually found on the bezel of diver's watches. It's difficult to find flaws in terms of balance even though the woven bracelet, modern and well integrated into the case, doesn't feel quite as comfortable as the ultra-thin bracelet of my old Ticin.
RADO is an innovative brand, it has therefore launched a second Captain Cook, the MKIII, which evolves from MKII's concept but opens a new path; the case is made of hardened Titanium 5 and the case geometry is not as smooth. The dial is filled with yellow SuperLuminova® and is a bit different from the MKII's: the hands are arrow-shaped while the round indexes are raised, thus giving the dial a tridimensional look and feel.
The case has a diameter of 46,8mm and on the wrist the difference with the MKII is evident. Since not everyone appreciates vintage watches, the MKIII represents in my opinion the will to market a product that draws inspiration from the Captain Cook but offers a style destined to the "Neo-Vintage" addicts. in other words, to those who would choose an HyperChrome 1616 rather than an Original Diastar.
Both equipped with automatic movement and an 80-hour power reserve, the RADO Captain Cook MKII and MKIII are already available in USA respetively at USD 2150 and USD 2550 while the Euro price should not be much different.
My preference is firmly on the MKII for personal and sentimental reasons since I believe that the original RADO Captain Cook are among the most interesting watches produced in the '60s and '70s and are still modern today. So I'm very pleased that RADO has reproposed the same dimensions, style and colors of my father's Captain Cook, with the MKIII winning in terms of versatility and lightness, a bit less in design.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®