A heritage-focused diving watch that isn’t afraid to embrace the past.
By Logan R. Baker
Rado’s decision to release a new version of the cult favorite Captain Cook from 1962 was immediately hailed as a success across the various horological-focused blogs, forums, and magazines in the six months since Baselworld. Ever since the fair, I’ve been looking forward to getting the watch on my wrist for a review. I recently received the watch for a test drive and have been lucky enough to have the Captain Cook on my wrist for the past two weeks.
First off, Rado has to be commended for releasing a 37 mm diver in 2017. Not only is it far different from Rado’s usual wares—which tend to be thin, design-focused watches that utilize high-tech substances like ceramic—almost every single design aspect of the watch is the same as the 1962 version. From the hands to the bezel to the dancing seahorses on the caseback, everything has been replicated with precise accuracy.
As someone with a passion for diving watches but admittedly thin wrists, it’s been frustrating over the years to see all the beautiful divers come out that are 42 mm and above. Finally, an attractive diver that has a significant amount of heritage and in a size perfect for me.
Let’s talk about the vintage design. The ceramic unidirectional bezel slopes slightly inwards, allowing the dial to take center stage. This sort of bezel is rare nowadays and immediately evocative of other vintage divers from the 1960s. Again, you’ve got to hand it to Rado for refusing to change anything about the design of the watch.
The chocolate-brown dial gives off an extremely vibrant sheen—surprising since most watches with a similarly colored dial are toned down and more muted. It catches the light easily and I ended up having multiple non–watch people inquire about it. For a smaller watch, the Rado Captain Cook has sure been able to capture a lot of attention.
The brand’s traditional anchor logo is located underneath 12 o’clock. For those that haven’t been around Rado before, the anchor actually spins depending on gravity. It’s a fun little extra that really fits the Captain Cook given the famous British explorer from the 1700s that serves as its namesake.
Personally, I love the date window on this watch. Date windows aren’t averse to controversy among watch enthusiasts but the choice to go red really makes the face pop by matching the color of the logo’s backdrop.
The workhouse movement inside comes courtesy of the Swatch Group’s comprehensive library of calibers. The ETA caliber CO7.611 is the same that can be found in quite a few recent Hamilton and Tissot models and features a lengthy 80-hour power reserve.
The 19 mm leather strap feels comfortable on the wrist, but I’d love to see what the watch would look like with a mesh bracelet. The leather strap combined with a depth rating of 100 m and a push-pull crown mean this watch will likely never be taken down by a saturation diver—but that won’t ever matter to most people.
The only other quibbles I found during my two weeks with the watch are small things that will be inconsequential for most people. Personally, I feel like the hour and minute hand are slightly mismatched, but this can’t be helped as it’s the same style hands used in the original 1962 version of the watch. The kerning of the “a” and the “i” in the Captain Cook script is slightly frustrating but will only be noticed by those as entranced by typography as they are by horology. Again, this is the same text used in the 1962 version, so the team at Rado couldn’t help that—and I appreciate the dedication to the brand’s heritage more than any alterations to the hands or branding.
In the watch industry, there are countless brands that focus on specific niches and drain all their resources into them so that when fair season rolls around you won’t find many surprises. The Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook was a wake-up call for me and many others I know in the industry. It brought back a cult timepiece that many modern enthusiasts might not have known about and tackled the concept of bringing it back to life in the right way. Overall, the Captain Cook turned out to be everything and more that I had hoped for when I saw it half a year ago.
The Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook is available in 37 mm in a limited edition of 1,962 for $1,900. The brand also introduced a number of other Captain Cook models at the fair and in the following months including a 37 mm version with a black dial on a bracelet, a ladies’ version with diamonds, and a series of larger versions at 45 mm that are unlimited and appeal to modern diving sensibilities. To learn more, visit Rado online.