First Look: Rado Tradition Captain Cook MKII Automatic Limited Edition

Rado named their ‘60s-era Captain Cook diver after the 18th century British explorer, Captain James Cook, who is best known for his exploits in the South Pacific. That original timepiece is a rare bird indeed, and perhaps that rarity helps explain why before Rado brought the watch back in the form of the 2017 reissue, few (but for a small group of dive watch enthusiasts) had heard of the reference, let alone seen one in the metal. Nevertheless, that reissue was a big win for Rado—the watch was a huge hit with both watch enthusiasts and journalists alike, and it remains a core part of Rado’s catalog.

Last year, Rado came out with Captain Cook MKIII, which we covered here. Curiously, the MKIII made its debut before the MKII, which was just officially unveiled by Rado and is the focus of today’s article. 

The vintage inspiration.


The MKII is based on yet another historical reference from Rado’s back catalog. That watch was the followup to the first Captain Cook, but as you can see here, aesthetically speaking, it’s quite a departure from that first watch. Very much of its time, the second generation Captain Cook features a hooded case with dual crowns, a colorful internal rotating bezel, and a proud acrylic crystal. The current reissue is faithful in capturing the essence of this watch.

To get the details just right, Rado scanned the case of a vintage second generation Captain Cook, so what we have here is a damn good homage to the historical piece. It measures just 37 millimeters across and 40.6 millimeters long, which is almost unheard of for a modern diver. The case is 14.3 millimeters tall, with a large chunk of that height coming from the awesome box sapphire crystal. Seriously, I have never seen a sapphire crystal quite like this, and, in my opinion, it really helps make the watch.

On the wrist, the MKII wears a bit bigger because of the case design (shrouded cases always look a touch larger to my eye), and the watch has a healthy dose of wrist presence—more so, I’d say, than its predecessor. Still, it really does feel like you’re wearing a vintage watch on the wrist, except that this piece is built to modern expectations. The stainless steel case is rated to 22 bar, which is about 220 meters, so have fun exploring the deep with this one strapped to the wrist. Both of the crowns screw down, with the one at two operating the internal bezel and the one at three in charge of time setting.

Then there’s the bracelet. The 7-link beads-of-rice bracelet has the look and comfort of its vintage counterpart, but it’s not chintzy feeling the way many of those bracelet are; it has the exacting build quality you’d want from a modern bracelet.

The dial is black with applied markers, and the internal rotating ring is adorned with red and white accents. The blocky hands match the markers, and there’s generous use of Super-LumiNova throughout. One of my favorite little details is the free swinging anchor logo, which, according to Rado, once had a really unique, utilitarian purpose. The anchor was a sort of horological canary in the coal mine. Back in the day, Rado would mount these anchors to a lubricated ruby, and if the anchor stopped spinning, then that was indication that the oils had dried out and it was time for the watch to go in for a service. Today, this feature is simply decorative.

The heart of the watch is Swatch Group’s C07.611 workhorse, a derivative of the ETA 2824-2 with an 80-hour power reserve. It’s a solid caliber, and one that’s getting ample use across Swatch Group’s expansive portfolio. To learn more about the ETA 2824, click here.

The Rado Tradition Captain Cook MKII is a limited edition of 1,962 pieces. The price is $2,150 on bracelet (the package comes with an additional nylon strap). Rado

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.