Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Hands-on Review

by Chamath Gamage
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Pros:

  • Comfortable on the wrist for long periods of wear
  • Unlike previous models, the R734 movement is on display – the best one to date
  • Great Build quality, High-tech ceramic is a winner for captain cook range

Cons:

  • Some may find it thick on the wrist compared to the other captain cook varients
  • The watch will wear big for wrist sizes smaller than 6.5 inches 
  • Some may not appreciate the blacked tinted sapphire crystal dial

Over All Rating: 8.0/10

  • Value for money – 7.5/10
  • Wearability – 8.0/10
  • Design – 8/10
  • Build Quality – 8.5/10

If there’s one watch brand that has earned the nickname “Master of Materials”, it is Rado. Being one of the biggest watch manufacturers in Switzerland, Rado uses the latest technology and innovation to create some unique materials for their watches. 

Diving into the history of the brand, in 1960 they were the first to create the “world’s first scratchproof watch”, the DiaStar 1. This was done by innovation, through introducing materials into the watch industry that were not known at the time. Materials such as hard metal and sapphire crystal. 

In 1970, Rado continued to innovate new materials by coming up with a scratch-resistant and high-tech ceramic bracelet called Rado Integral. This was arguably the first use of high-tech ceramic on a watch by Rado, and it would eventually become the brand’s signature material.

In 1990, Rado really stepped things up in their use of ceramic, with this particular year being dubbed as “the ceramic revolution” by the brand. From this point forward, the brand looked to incorporate this high-tech ceramic material into most of its collections. They even combined this high-tech ceramic material with metal alloys to create materials such as Ceramos, which promotes extra durability, lightness and even further comfort as the material adjusts quickly to skin temperature! 

Rado’s Captain Cook line which was introduced back in 2017, is a collection of timepieces that pays homage to the Swiss brand’s vintage collection, first released in 1962. The original timepiece had an automatic movement and a hefty water resistance of 220m. What made this model stand out was its iconic look, with the inward sloping bezel’s, domed dial, and large hour indexes. 

The industry is currently going through a renewed interest in vintage timepieces. As such, the 2017 Captain Cook collection saw the original 1962 timepiece reimagined in contemporary style. It has the latest materials and movement, yet maintains the iconic design intact. 

This year, Rado has taken the Captain Cook timepiece a step further by creating a watch that’s made entirely of ceramic, while also having a very visually appealing dial. Altogether, there are four different variants, with one of them being a rubber strap version instead of a ceramic bracelet. The model we have in our hands is the all-black model (ref R32127152).

Design:

The Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic comes with a 43mm monobloc case, which has been crafted entirely from ceramic with a matte black finish. Previously, Captain Cook models came with a 42mm case which makes this new model larger in size. However, the 1mm increase isn’t noticeable enough particularly on this model as the all-black case helps to “slim” it down somewhat. Even with the larger case, the water resistance is still at 300m/1000ft. The inward sloping bezel is sharp, with the white numerals and markers providing the perfect contrast. The bezel has also been given a shinier finish when compared to the previous versions.

To match the casing, Rado has used their iconic all-ceramic bracelet with a combination of different finishings. The outer links are done in matte black which matches the finish of the case and the inner links have a shiny finish to match the bezel. The one we got for review is the reference R32127156 | 01.734.6127.3.215 which is equipped with the Rubber Strap option.

The dial of this timepiece is really what sets it apart from other Captain Cook pieces of the past. Rado has incorporated a dark tinted Sapphire glass to showcase the beautiful movement underneath. The whole inner face up to the minute track on the outer edge of the dial has now been skeletonised.

Rado’s iconic spinning anchor at 12 o’clock is retained in this model, with the anchor also making an appearance on the crown. All hands and hour indices have been filled with superluminova for low light visibility. 

Movement:

The movement used inside the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic is the Calibre R434. Initially an ETA 2824-2 movement, Rado has reworked this movement to bring out some serious firepower. The calibre R734 now features a reworked kinetic chain, a frequency of 3Hz, and a power reserve which has now been boosted to approximately 80 hours.

 

Rado has also given this movement a Nivachron™ hairspring. , which protects the watch from everyday magnetic fields. Flip the watch over, and the open case back reveals the stunning movement of the calibre R434 movement. 

How does the Captain Cook HTC wear on the wrist?

On a 6.5inch wrist, the 43mm casing sits just right on the wrist. Compared to the other 42mm Captain Cook variants, the high-tech ceramic sits higher on the wrist at 14.6mm and slightly longer lug to lug distance of 49.7mm. This is due to the monobloc construction of the casing. Also as mentioned earlier, it’s worth noting that black watches, in general, wear smaller on the wrist. Even though the watch is 43mm in size, it wears more like a 41mm size. If you have a wrist smaller than 6.5inches in sizing, you may find it harder to pull off this watch. 

I have had the pleasure of test-driving this watch for a couple of months now and I have to say, I put this watch through a lot. I wore this watch to the official launch of the Captain Cook HTC in Tasmania, where I stayed and played golf at one of the best golf courses (Barnbougle) in Australia. Mountain biked through one of the best mountain biking courses (Blue Derby) and almost jumped into the Floating Sauna (but chickened out!).

The Floating Sauna – Tasmania

Finally to close out the launch had an epic Tasmanian sunset chopper ride back to Barnbougle.

At home, I wore this on a day to day basis, and even wore it to play tennis and outdoor cricket. Weighing in at just 114 grams with the rubber strap, I had no issues wearing it for longer periods. Being so used to this watch, I even wore it while cleaning my driveway, where all the dirt that came off of the Kärcher sat on the watch. I wasn’t worried one bit, because I knew how durable the high-tech ceramic is. Even after cleaning, I couldn’t find a single scratch on the watch. 

The dial is laid out well making it easy to read the time, day or night. I like the monochromatic look of the watch, with a black casing and dark sapphire crystal dial against the white markers/hands and text. Having the ruby anchor at 12 o’clock adds a touch of colour which prevents the dial from being over monochromatic.

The dark sapphire crystal dial is a nice touch and in my opinion, is not required for a divers watch but the way the whole dial is executed, you have to look twice to see the R734 movement in action. From far you can’t tell this is a skeleton dial and to appreciate the dial you have to view it from an angle. I feel as though some may not appreciate this, but for me, I didn’t mind it as I believe this dial has the best of both worlds (skeleton/solid dial). Setting the time is easy, and not something that I had to do often due to the generous 80-hour power reserve. 

I liked that I could set the time whilst the watch was on my wrist. Due to the case construction and the crown, you can pull the crown easily to set the time. This comes in handy if you have to change the time on the go. Turning over the watch, I got to enjoy the Rado manufacture calibre R734 through the darkened sapphire crystal case back. Just like the dial, you have to view it from an angle to enjoy the finishing of the movement.

Priced at $5,275, this is the cheapest variant of the four offerings and I think this is priced well for what’s on offer. Overall, I found the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic to be a delight on the wrist. This is certainly a watch I can wear all day and go about my daily activities without worrying about it being scratched.

The Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic is perfectly equipped to be worn on the beach or for everyday lifestyle, all the while being stylishly beautiful. 

Rado Captain Cook HTC Specification (Ref R32127156):

  • Case: 43mm, 14.6mm thickness and approximately 49.7mm lug-lug
  • Case material: High-tech ceramic, Stainless steel
  • Dial: Black
  • Crystal: Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
  • Water resistance: 300 meters
  • Movement: Calibre R734
  • Power reserve: 80 hours

Australian Retail Pricing: $5,275.00

Availability: Available now

Enquire at local Authorised dealers here.

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