Rado: Keeping an Eye on Design

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The relationship between design and watches should be an obvious one. Every watch is the product of a collaboration between product and graphic designers, made possible with the work of engineers. Watches are rare objects in that they encompass so many design disciplines. They are 2D, 3D and exist in the space of style and fashion. A great watch succeeds at all levels, and is a true example of quality design.

While most watch brands are dedicated to design in their own way, few are as dedicated to design as a global practice as Rado. Part of the Swatch Group, Rado is a pioneer of aesthetics and materials, creating simple, elegant timepieces that feature modern manufacturing and technology at their cores. A quick glance at pieces like Baselworld 2016’s Hyperchrome Ultra Light will reveal this. Combining a monobloc (single piece) silicon nitride (Si3N4) matte ultra-light high-tech ceramic case with hardened grade 5 titanium inserts and crown, as well as an automatic movement with aluminum bridges, the watch boasts more case technology than most brands have across their lines. But rather than flaunt this distastefully, the watch comes together with a minimal, Zen-inspired design that is reserved, understated and timeless.

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The theme of “lightness” not only pervades Rado’s work, but also their global design initiatives. This year, Rado sponsored two design events in NYC, NYCxDESIGN and WantedDesign, as well as hosted their first Rado Star Prize on US soil, which was on display at Industry City in Brooklyn this last May. Rado Star Prize is a series of challenges for young product designers to compete in around single themes. For the US, lightness as pursued though the use of “new material(s) in the domestic realm” was the theme. There were two winners, one selected by jury, the other by the public.

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The jury winner was Kimberly Markel, who created the Glow Chair from reclaimed plastic. Cast into a mold based off a hand made clay chair, the pale green translucent object is a contrast of materials and textures. The public winner was Vineta Chugh and her concept for the Hurricane vase. Pulling from the form of one of Nature’s most turbulent occurrences, the Hurricane vase is a moment of intense motion and form frozen in space and time, rendered in glass. More of the finalists can be viewed here.

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In addition to NYCxDESIGN and WantedDesign, in 2016 Rado is also a proud sponsor of World Design Capital: Taipei. WDC is a biennial occurrence that takes place in design-forward cities, hosting events throughout the year, including the first Rado Star Prize Taiwan contest. The theme of WDC: Taipei is “Adaptive City – Design in Motion”.

Rado does not just sponsor events, they also take place in them, holding over 30 international design awards for their timepieces. In 2015 Rado won the Good Design award, issued by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in cooperation with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies for their Diamaster Grande Second. A striking design with a plasma ceramic 43mm monobloc case and an asymmetrical-dial, they are unique and luxurious timepieces.

Now in 2016 Rado has won a Red Dot award for their True Open Heart series. Featuring mother-of-pearl dials and ceramic cases, these limited edition watches are open-heart in a unique way. Rather than the typical cut through one finds over a balance, the MOP is left transparent, subtly revealing the movement below. The effect is mysterious and intriguing, making these unlike any MOP dial watches you’ve seen before.

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Rado’s dedication to design is an important facet of the brand. Though the watch industry at times seems like its own world, watches and watch brands are part of design culture at large. Participating in and supporting design globally is a duty that more brands should undertake, acting as ambassadors for the industry. Rado has always kept innovation in their crosshairs, pushing on both aesthetic and techincal levels, making them a great candidate for the task. We look forward to seeing what 2017 will hold for Rado and design.

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