Rado is rightly regarded by most knowledgeable watch aficionados as a very avant-garde, design-oriented brand, but it has gained substantial renown in recent years for going retro — introducing the Hyperchrome Captain Cook, named for the famed British naval explorer and inspired by a nearly forgotten 1960s dive watch, to critical acclaim in 2017. Rado’s newest Captain Cook lands this year, and like its somewhat surprise-hit predecessor, combines faithful vintage homage with modern technical innovation. Here’s this week’s Watch to Watch, the Rado Tradition Captain Cook MKII Automatic Limited Edition.
The most noteworthy difference between the MKII and the original Captain Cook is the former’s use of an inner rotating dive-scale bezel rather than an external one; this is a feature that is faithful to the original model upon which the MKII is based, which made its debut in 1962. (This historically accurate element may also explain why the MKII fits into Rado’s Tradition collection rather than the Hyperchrome family into which the original was positioned.) The watch’s turtle-shaped case measures 37 mm x 40.6 mm, in polished stainless steel, and incorporates two screw-down crowns, one at 3 o’clock and one at 4 o’clock, for winding the watch and for operating the internal diving bezel, respectively. Its box-shaped sapphire crystal is treated with nonreflective coating on both sides.
The matte black dial strongly evokes the watch’s 1960s origins, with large rhodium-colored hour indices and hands, a 3 o’clock date window, red-and-white inner bezel (red for the crucial first 15 minutes of dive time) and Rado’s vintage-inspired metallized “anchor” emblem at 12 o’clock — on the MKII, set into a sapphire crystal. The Super-LumiNova used on the hands, hour indices, and large orientation dots on the bezel is in a cream color that Rado calls “natural,” imparting an appealing faux patina to the dial’s detailing. The Rado logo beneath the anchor and the text for “Captain Cook” above 6 o’clock are also rhodium-colored.
Inside the case, behind a screwed down, solid steel back that helps ensure the MKII’s 220-meter water resistance, is a thoroughly modern movement, the automatic ETA C07.611, with 25 jewels and a very user-friendly 80-hour power reserve. Stamped with a trip of seahorses and engraved with the watch’s limited-edition number (out of 1,962 pieces), the caseback identifies this Captain Cook model as a collectors’ item. The Tradition Captain Cook MKII Automatic Limited Edition is fitted with Rado’s easy-change strap system, meaning that the wearer can swap out the seven-row rice-grain steel bracelet the watch comes on with the black NATO strap that is also provided. The watch is available now at a retail price of $2,150.