Hands-on with the Rado DiaStar Original Skeleton

by Chamath Gamage


  • Unique sapphire crystal
  • The cool Ceramos™ bezel
  • Skeletonized dial


  • Crown operations can get tricky
  • Combining Square faceted sapphire crystal and Skeleton dial can get busy.
  • Design cues for the DiaStar are not for everyone.

Overall Rating: 7.75/10

  • Value for money: 7.5/10
  • Wearability: 7.5/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Build quality: 8/10

Rado’s iconic DiaStar model gets another update following last year’s 60th anniversary of the DiaStar edition, getting a case material change from hard metal to Rado CeramosTM and a one of kind Square faceted sapphire crystal.

The Rado DiaStar was first introduced in 1962, and what an introduction it was. A milestone for the watch industry, the Rado DiaStar came with a ‘funky’ design and, more importantly, a scratch-proof case. Rado designed the very first DiaStar as a ceramic timepiece with a material called “tungsten carbide”. Although some people may argue that it’s not ceramic, tungsten carbide is considered ceramic, at least by the American Ceramic Society. 

This is important because no timepiece at the time of DiaStar’s debut could offer a scratch-proof watch. When it comes to material innovation, the Diastar in ceramic was a breakthrough for the watchmaking industry. In modern times, the use of ceramic on timepieces is a more regular occurrence; however, for the industry as a whole, brands didn’t get on board with this material till around the 1980s. This highlights how far ahead in terms of material expertise and usage Rado was at the time, A testament to the motto of Rado’s founders “If we can imagine it, we can make it. And if we can make it, we will.”

Case design:

The latest edition of the DiaStar continues the pioneering work of the brand. Rado’s creative concept, “The Art of Skeletonisation”, is the primary focus of this timepiece, with their R808 automatic calibre movement being the engine for the skeletonised dial. The 38mm x 45mm shield-like case design now uses Rado’sCeramosTM as the case material since the 2022 update.

CeramosTM is an innovative material, which Rado explains as “combining high-tech ceramic – specifically titanium carbide – with a metallic alloy. Light and adaptable to skin temperature, it has the same qualities and benefits as high-tech ceramic, enhanced by a metallic lustre.” The adaptability to the skin temperature certainly shows when the watch is on the wrist.

As last year’s releases with this material were simple three-hand dials ( reference R12163118), for this year’s release, Rado has decided to combine their innovative material with a skeleton dial to create a visually aesthetic timepiece. While the case design may not be to everyone’s taste, it does have an excellent wrist presence. Rado has refined the case design to be more masculine and stylish, with a sharper design than the original models. 


The dial of the new DiaStar Original Skeleton has been designed to be as visually appealing as possible. With different colour contrasts, certain features are made to stand out on purpose. The darker colour tones of the watch’s bezel and the bridges of the movement offer the perfect contrast to the movement’s elements. Elements such as the hands, hour indices and gears have been done in yellow gold to achieve this beautiful contrasting effect. Another nice touch of colour is the gold-coloured moving anchor on the red background ( which is placed at 9 o’clock).

The hour indices have a floating design, which is attached to the white-printed minute track and is suspended over the movement, giving the dial a three-dimensional layered appearance. The hands and hour indices have been coated with SuperLumi-Nova, giving that excellent nighttime/low light visibility. 

The stand-out feature for me is the square-faceted sapphire crystal. It is unique for the watch industry to have a sapphire crystal of this style, making this watch a conversational starter. One downside to having this type of crystal is that light will reflect from all angles, and at times, the dial will be hard to read. Not a deal breaker, but it’s the result of combining a skeleton dial and hexagonal crystal. The noteworthy feature of this dial is “Rado” and “DiaStar” logos are printed inside the crystal in white.


As mentioned, DiaStar Original Skeleton comes with the brand’s R808 Skeleton movement. This automatic movement has an anti-magnetic Nivachron™ hairspring which allows the movement to be extremely precise and also reliable. Rado states that the R808 Skeleton movement “exceeds standard test requirements from 3 to 5 positions for higher accuracy.” The movement also offers an impressive 80 hours power reserve operating at a frequency of 3Hz (21, 600 VpH).  

How does it wear on the wrist?

With a case dimension of 38mm, thickness of 11.9mm and lug-to-lug of 46mm, the watch comfortably sat on my 6.5-inch wrist. I enjoyed how the crystal played with light and the lustre of the Ceramos™ bezel. At the first instant of trying on the watch, it felt and looked different as you dont get to see the case lugs nor the crown. They are well tucked away thanks to the case design. Skeleton dial is visually striking and with the square-faceted sapphire crystal, I often found myself looking at the watch from different angles.

The polished and brushed stainless steel H-link bracelet is comfortable on the wrist, and I had no issues wearing it for extended wear. The easy-clip three-fold clasp is easy to operate .With 80 hours of power reserve; the watch can be put away for a while and worn without the need for winding.

The operation of the crown for me was tricky because of the design of the case; the crown is tucked away, and if you have fat fingers like me, pulling out the crown to set the time can be a challenge.

It is reasonably priced for a watch of this calibre and is the most expensive in the DiaStar Original collection. With the 60s and 70s styling, this is not aimed at the everyday watch collector but rather at someone who appreciates the brand and its unique product. Having said that, this is one of those watches that need to be tried on before jumping to any conclusions.

The DiaStar Orignal Skeleton is seriously an excellent watch with rich Rado DNA. This latest addition to the DiaStar collection brings a modern touch to the vintage inspired timepieces. If you are in the market for an original and unique watch, you can’t look past the DiaStar Original Skeleton.

Reference: R12162153


  • Case: 38mm x 45mm, 11.9mm thick and 46mm lug to lug
  • Case Material: CeramosTM with polished stainless steel middle part and CeramosTM bezel
  • Dial: Black annular dial with flying yellow gold colour indexes with white Super-LumiNova®
  • Crystal: Square faceted sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating inside
  • Water Resistance: 100m (10BAR)
  • Movement: Automatic Rado calibre R808
  • Power Reserve: 80 Hours
  • Strap: Polished and brushed stainless steel-fold clasp with Easy-Clip system

Australian Recommended Retail Price: AUD 3,250

Availability: Available at Authorised Retailers or online via Rado’s E-commerce site

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