Let me preface this article by stating that I’m a proud owner of the original Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook re-issue from 2017. When it was released in both 37-mm and 44-mm diameters that year, it was a breath of fresh air in the contemporary dive watch scene and a relative value proposition to boot with a price tag under $2,000. I was fortunately able to purchase one of the models soon after they hit stores that summer and it has likely been my most worn watch ever since. I have a thin wrist so the 37-mm version was perfect for me and its slim profile (37 mm x 14.3 mm) allowed it the flexibility to be worn everywhere from underneath a dress shirt in the office to lazing around during hot summer days. I soon acquired a number of strap options to complement the watch as well, favoring brown leather in the winter months and perlon in the summer.
Last year, Rado updated the Captain Cook once again with the MKII and MKIII models that provided an entirely different design language for the watch, but also served as an effective homage to a different era for the Captain Cook. As of today, Rado has announced its return to the original 2017 design format and has introduced a Captain Cook limited edition with a brand new dial option. The new watch features a taupe-ish, almost wood-brown hue that Rado says was directly inspired by a Captain Cook model found in the brand’s archives that had developed an interesting patina on its dial. Impressed by how the aged tone affected the overall sensibilities of the watch, Rado adapted it into the model we see today. While I’m not sure if I prefer the new dial option over the 2017 model with its darker brown color, it does offer an intriguing new look that somehow serves to enhance the vintage appeal of a watch that was already fairly heritage heavy.
Other than the dial, many of the details from the 2017 re-edition carry over to this year’s model. The 120-click, coin-edge bezel features a ceramic insert and slopes inwards toward the sapphire crystal while the polished case is made of stainless steel. Water resistance is specced to 100 meters despite the fact that the crown does not screw in. The printed hour markers feature an ample coating of green-colored, faux-vintage Super-LumiNova and the hour and minute hands are done in a distinctive sword and arrow style. There’s a date window at 3 o’clock that is scripted in a soft red color that matches the spinning anchor logo. The sapphire crystal has a box construction and the closed caseback features a trio of dancing seahorses. All these design details are authentic to the original Captain Cook that was produced from 1962 to 1968. Nearly every detail has been translated into this contemporary edition with precise accuracy.
The choice of movement has remained the same as the 2017 release with Rado tapping one of ETA’s popular Powermatic 80 calibers. Boasting 80 hours of running autonomy and featured in a variety of Rado’s Swatch Group siblings like Tissot, Certina, and Mido, the Powermatic 80 is extremely reliable and a great option at this price point. The movement is basically an ETA 2824-2 with its frequency reduced from 28,800 vph to 21,600 vph and an improved mainspring capacity.
Unfortunately, it does appear that the one small issue I’ve found with the Captain Cook during my approximate 18 months of ownership remains in this new version. While it will likely only be noticed by those as entranced by typography as they are horology, the kerning of the “a” and the “i” in the Captain Cook script on the dial is still frustrating for me. That being said, this is the same font used in the 1962 version, so in the spirit of authenticity, it’s hard to blame Rado for this and I appreciate the continued dedication to the brand’s history.
One positive that does come with the release of this new model is the fact that it is accompanied by a leather travel pouch with a number of additional straps including an army-green NATO and a stainless steel Milanese bracelet. I’ve been looking for a high-quality Milanese bracelet to fit the Captain Cook’s atypical strap width of 19 mm ever since I first picked up the watch and, while I’ve found a few contenders, it’s great to see Rado address this with multiple strap options included in the watch’s total price. That price tag, of course, reflects this and has been slightly increased from the 2017 release to $2,100. The amount of production pieces remains the same at 1,962 — a nod to the year the Rado Captain Cook first set sail.