Watches

Three Times Rado Watches Outpaced the Rest of the Watchmaking World 

When it comes to innovation and high-tech materials, this watchmaking company with humble beginnings in Lengnau, Switzerland has managed to beat out even the bigger players in the watch world. Here’s a look at some of the pieces that Rado introduced before everyone else followed suit.
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If you’re a tennis fan, you’re definitely familiar with Rado watches—the brand is a regular courtside fixture as the official timekeeper of 12 international tournaments—and just as tennis players sacrifice their bodies like modern-day gladiators on the court, staring down opponents in a test of physicality and will, Rado has pushed itself to beat the competition by experimenting with materials and technology, releasing its own share of firsts in the watch world. 

The brand began its life as the Schlup & Co. watchmaking factory in 1917, headed by brothers Fritz, Ernst, and Werner. The siblings converted a portion of their parents’ house into their atelier and, by the end of World War II, it was among the leading watch movement producers in the globe. 

It wasn’t until 40 years later, in1957, that Schlup & Co. began selling watches under the Rado name, making its debut with the Golden Horse collection. These watches would bear Rado’s moving anchor symbol, a distinctive silver anchor against a red background—the same symbol that can still be found in all of their automatic watches today. But clearly, Rado was just getting started. Here is a closer look at a few of the most notable releases from the company over the years, and all the ways by which it has managed to shake up the watch world by doing things that had never been seen and done before. 

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The First Scratch-Resistant Watch: DiaStar 1      

Nowadays, being scratch-proof is among the things you would come to expect from any self-respecting luxury timepiece. It’s hard to imagine, then, that before 1962, this was not the case—until Rado combined two materials that had been a novelty in the watchmaking world: hardmetal and sapphire. 

The DiaStar 1 has been incarnated into the Original Automatic.

Photo by RADO.
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The former was a fixture in the toolmaking industries, which Rado then introduced into watch manufacturing. The sapphire crystal, by now pretty much industry standard, was also developed by the company. These two were put together to create a good-looking oval-cased watch that promised to look brand new for years to come. 

Today, the watch has been incarnated into the Rado DiaStar Original collection, taking design cues from the groundbreaking first release. And yes, it’s still scratch-proof; you’re welcome to put it to the test.  

The World’s Hardest Watch: V10K 

In 2002, Rado watches decided to step up its scratch-resistant technology by introducing the world’s hardest watch. The V10K is coated with a synthetic layer of nanocrystalline diamond called high-tech diamond. This gives it a hardness of 10,000 Vickers, a scale that measures a material’s resistance to indentation. Just to give you an idea, the only other material on this earth that has achieved a measure of 10,000 Vickers is diamonds, and anyone who has ever watched a heist movie knows that diamonds are hard enough to cut glass. 

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Like the V10k, the Ceramica is scratch-resistant, too.

Photo by RADO.

But anyway, we digress: The V10K is an engineering feat, with a synthetic diamond surface coating that was crafted using a furnace capable of simulating the atmospheric pressure of Jupiter. Notice that the watch lacks a crown? That’s because the time is adjusted with a magnetic device that’s been built into the strap. And if that’s not sci-fi enough for you, the minimalist, almost spaceship-like aesthetic certainly reflects its retro-futuristic vibe. 

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You can still find a V10K on the resale market, but if you are looking for a similar model in the current collections, the Rado Ceramica, with its angular lines and ultra-shiny finish, would be the natural successor. It’s still extremely light and scratch-resistant, too.     

The First Ceramic Watch with Touch Technology: Esenza Ceramic Touch 

Of course, touch technology is now something that we take completely for granted, what with smartwatches and their ever-updating dials and notifications. But in 2013, two years before the Apple Watch would make its market debut, Rado introduced touch technology into its ceramic watches by embedding the case with four sensors that would enable you to set the time simply by swiping your fingers on the screen. 

 The Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph does away with touch technology but keeps the ceramic construction.  

Photo by RADO.
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The following year, the brand one-upped themselves with the debut of the Hyperchrome Ceramic Touch Dual Timer, another touch technology watch that was now equipped with six sensors and a subdial that could display a second time zone. You could adjust the hours simply by sliding your fingers left, and the minutes by sliding right. You could also easily swap the time zone shown on the main dial to the subdial by simultaneously touching the case at the 3 and 9 o’clock mark. Pretty cool, huh?

If you want the look and feel of the Hyperchrome but are fine with doing away with touch technology (because that’s just all too common nowadays, are we right?), go with the Rado Hyperchrome Chronograph. The real draw, anyway, is that it’s made out of Rado’s signature high-tech ceramic, crafted from a single piece of injected ceramic that keeps it durable and ultra-sleek. And since Rado watches are known for its mastery of ceramics, it’s the perfect way to find out for yourself what all the hype is about.  

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Nana Caragay
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