“Let’s be transparent.” That’s what a number of watch brands seem to be saying this year with a bumper crop of skeleton dial watches, whose open constructions offer a peek at their inner mechanics. Rado is the latest brand to bare its horological soul in this way with the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic. As you might tell from the name – which could now sound a little contentious to contemporary ears – this watch derives from a more innocent time. In the sixties, the Rado Captain Cook was a rugged dive watch that was revived by the brand in 2017 in a historically authentic 37mm case. This vintage revamp met with deserved acclaim and subsequently prompted a number of spin-offs in various materials and colours. But the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic is the most radical interpretation yet.
Essentially, it feels like what Rado has done here is to take its heritage diver and teleport it onto the set of Blade Runner. The case is still the same shape, albeit with a bigger 43mm diameter, but it’s now made of ceramic – the scratch-resistant and hypoallergenic material in which Rado has long specialised. What this means is that despite its greater physical girth, it’s surprisingly light and comfortable on the wrist.
Yet it’s the dial that represents the biggest departure from the Captain Cook of old. While skeletonised to allow a view of the movement within, the dial is actually constructed of black-tinted sapphire crystal with the applied hour markers floating on top. Rather than offer a true full frontal therefore, the effect is more subtle with the mechanics less glaringly evident through the smoky lens. There will be some that argue this rather stymies the basic point of a skeleton dial but, in fact, it simply makes the effect less brazen and more coherent with the watch’s overall form. In spite of all this visual intrigue, the new Captain Cook is no show-pony. It’s still a rugged diving watch with 300m of water resistance and a movement that boasts an 80-hour power reserve.
On the wrist, this watch feels like a collision of the past and the future. In other hands, this could prove somewhat jarring, but these two dimensions are cleverly yoked together with Rado’s stylistic DNA. Ceramic, after all, has always been the brand’s signature material and so updating the Captain Cook with a full mono-bloc case makes narrative sense. The skeletonised dial is somewhat unexpected on a watch that’d become pigeon-holed as a classic, heritage diver, but it recasts the Captain Cook in a bold new light. The model I road-tested came on a sleek, black rubber strap that helped to ground all the visual elements. In addition, Rado’s age-old emblem, the rotating anchor, remained steadfast at 12 o’clock, a reassuring presence of stability amid the flux.
The Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic collection is $5,750AUD in black, $5,925AUD with rose gold highlights and $6,075AUD in blue with matte plasma finishing.