Hands-On With The New Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic

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Rado struck a tone with collectors in reviving their Captain Cook dive watch back in 2017. The HyperChrome, as it was called, hit all the right notes and captured what made the original great: a slim 37mm case, a design with some character, and an approachable price point. In reacting to the success of the watch, Rado has produced all manner of variations in new sizes and materials, and while few capture the allure of what made the original so appealing to enthusiasts (see above for the simple formula), they never stop pushing the watch into new territory. With the latest iteration of the Captain Cook, Rado embraces a thoroughly modern tone and pushes the watch further than ever before in the process, right down to its name, meet the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic.

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To be clear, we welcome modern, progressive designs around here and would love to see more originality from brands in this regard. In that context, it’s difficult to fault Rado for pushing the boundaries with their most popular diver. However, if you were a fan of the original, you may be less than enamored with what it has become in the High-Tech Ceramic, the very name consisting of 3 words we never have used to describe the original. 

The big draw here is the case and bracelet being made entirely of “plasma high-tech ceramic”. It’s a monobloc constructed case that measures 43mm in diameter, 50mm from lug to lug, and 14.6mm in thickness. Those figures may well be impressive considering the material, and credit where it’s due there, but on the wrist the watch is not flying under radars of any kind. Mercifully, the ceramic construction saves on the heft, so it’s easier to wear than you might imagine.

The bracelet is also ceramic, and features two different finishes to provide contrast. The center link is polished to a mirror finish, while the outer links are matte like the case. Being ceramic, the links have soft rounded edges, as I’m guessing achieving a crisp hard edge is rather difficult with such a material. The bracelet itself is comfortable on the wrist, though its weight and surface texture can skew toward plastic feeling in the hand. 

You can’t pair the high-tech case with just any old dial, so Rado has gone with a double sapphire design that offers a view to the top (bottom?) of the R734 movement within. The baseplate has been trimmed in a way to allow visibility to the mainspring at 4 o’clock and the balance wheel at 12 o’clock. The base sapphire dome is smoked or tinted so it’s not a clear shot of the baseplate, and it looks to be domed itself as the hour markers have a noticeable slope going up toward the center of the dial. The bezel rakes toward the dial, so there’s a real show going on when viewing this thing from an angle.

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The shape of the hands and hour markers has been retained from the OG Captain Cook, otherwise you might have a hard time placing this watch. Likewise, the bezel, which is also ceramic, gets engraved white lacquered numbers and markers, triangle in white lume, in the same design as the original. 

Overall, there are some truly interesting elements at work here, from the materials and texture, to the depth found in the dial. However, the sum of all this feels very different from the quaint diver from the ‘50s recreated with love and care we saw in the HyperChrome. This High-Tech Ceramic is a different beast entirely and I suspect will draw a very different consumer (which is the point, I’m aware). Priced at $3,800, this is a big step for Rado, and one we’ll likely see them run with. Rado.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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