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Voyage of Discovery: The New (2017) Rado Captain Cook Collection

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This is a reprint of my original topic first posted on 18 August 2017 in the Christopher Ward Watch Forum
NOTE: This is a reprint of my original topic first posted on 18 August 2017 in the Christpher Ward Forum
The original Rado Captain Cook dive watch, launched in 1962 (pic from diveintowatches.files.wordpress.com):

Those of us who are addicted to writing articles tend to inject something of their own person into their work, and indeed, if writing forum topics was purely about the facts and figures, without remission, then both writers and readers would soon become bored and eventually turn away. It is therefore with some sadness that I have to report that this article is not the original final draft that I had lovingly worked on. The problem, which occurs periodically, concerns the log-in process whereby having logged in and started to write the topic, the Forum reverts to a logged-out state and when the topic is saved in drafts or submitted, the Forum rejects it and freezes one out of being logged in.

Anyway, because I really want to alert Forum members to this particular collection of watches, I have decided to start all over again, and I hope that members enjoy this topic or, at least, find it informative.

The two basic models in the new Rado Captain Cook collection - the 45mm titanium and the 37mm stainless steel - this 37mm version being the brown dial limited edition (pic from ablogtowatch.com)

The new Rado Captain Cook HyperChrome dive watch collection has only been available for a few months, and as yet, the number of different models and colourways is very limited. How positive the name, "Captain Cook," is regarded historically in certain parts of the world, I am not sure, but safe in Britain we don't have that problem, and this collection of watches deserves to be appreciated wherever it is marketed. The lack of models/colourways in the collection will probably change as time goes on, but for now there are essentially two different but related models, with one of these model coming in three versions. Rather than try and discuss all this in the text as I go along, I shall list these different watches here below in a factual mode:

1) Captain Cook model with 45mm hardened titanium case, screw-down solid titanium back with three-dolphins motif, and unidirectional rotating angled ceramic bezel. Blue colourway only, with either titanium bracelet or synthetic fabric strap. Sapphire crystal, automatic ETA calibre C07.611 movement with 80 hour power reserve, stated WR of 200 metres, and hands and markers lumed. UK price with fabric strap, £1830,00, and with titanium bracelet, £1990,00.

2) Captain Cook model with 37.3 mm polished stainless steel back and solid steel screw-down back (watch 11.1mm thick) featuring a stamped three-dolphins motif. The watches have a unidirectional angled ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, automatic ETA C07.611 movement with 80 hours power reserve, and stated WR of 100 metres. Three different versions of this model are available, and each has a different shade of lume applied:

a) Limited edition colourway with brown sunburst dial and black ceramic bezel. Brown leather strap. Priced at £1430,00. Very similar to the regular black dial version below. Edition comprises 1962 pieces.

b) Regular black dial version with black ceramic bezel and glossy black dial. Stainless steel bracelet. This model is quite literally a modern replication of the original Rado Captain Cook watch produced between 1962 and 1968. UK price £1520,00

c) Silver dial version with 8 diamond hour markers, white ceramic bezel and Milanese-type stainless steel strap. This version is apparently aimed mainly at women, but I can see it being purchased by both sexes. UK price £1790,00.

the Rado Captain Cook 45mm titanium watch (pic from i.ytimg.com):

Before attempting to appraise the different watches in the Captain Cook collection, I must just make a few pertinent points with regard two matters concerning to the collection as a whole. Firstly, it has to be said that although Rado is a brand known for its innovative use of new materials - hence the HyperChrome designation used by the firm - the new Captain Cook watches do not really fit into that category in terms of both style and general construction (yes, I realize that the bezels are in Rado's ceramic material). I therefore feel that the watches are best left under the Captain Cook heading.

The second matter concerns the movement, which is used in all the new Captain Cook watches. I am not a great expert on the technicalities of watch movements but it has been stated that the ETA calibre C07.611 is a modified movement with the aim being to extend the power reserve from 42 to 80 hours. In the process, the frequency of the movement was reduced from 4 Hz to 3 Hz, which might be thought to reduce accuracy somewhat, although ETA claim to have modified the movement with no appreciable drop in performance. Anyway, this calibre has been used for a while now in various Swatch Group watches, and it seems to be a decent product.

The new Rado Captain Cook 37mm limited edition dive watch, with other accessories (pic from hodinkee.imgix.net):

The first watch I shall look at is the 45mm titanium Captain Cook model, and I have to say that my immediate feeling about this watch was really, "what is the point of it?" This model is closely related to the smaller watches in the collection but is aimed at those who want a more modern approach to he whole basic tenet of the collection - which is to reincarnate the sensibility of the original Captain Cook watches. By doing this with a 45mm model that neither moves us forward nor takes us back, we end up with a rather ordinary watch priced at nearly £2,000 with a steel bracelet. If, like me, you are a fan of Rado, then you might decide that the price is justifiable, but the majority of watch buyers at this level would probably think twice about this watch.

In addition to the basic lack of general distinctiveness when compared to similarly styled and specced watches from other quality watch companies, the actual appearance of the watch does not stand comparison with the smaller, 37mm, Captain Cook watches. Leaving aside the women's version of the Captain Cook, the dial of the larger watch is not as well resolved as that on the 37mm watches. I prefer the use of both upper and lower case letters in the "Captain Cook" designation used on the smaller watches and the date window on the 45mm watch seems to be rather small and squeezed in such that part of the three o'clock marker has been omitted. Although I do like the way that Rado has made its rotating anchor logo proportionately large on the watch (a characteristic fortunately also found on the 37mm watches), I much prefer the "painted" markers on the smaller watches rather than the "framed" markers on this model - they just seem to me purer and more in keeping with period. Finally, the case on the 45mm does seem a bit dull, especially when contrasted with the polished bezel metal.

The 45mm Captain Cook with material strap in side view, showing what in my opinion is a somewhat dull finish to the case, in poor contrast with the polished bezel edge (pic from ablogtowatch.com):

Having discounted the 45mm Captain Cook from my thoughts, I now turn to the three 37mm watches. I myself am generally not a great lover of retro watchmaking, but in this case Rado seems to have got it right. Each of the three watches in the 37mm range places a different slant on the original 1960s Captain Cook, each appealing to different tastes. Rather than comment on the more blingy version with diamond markers, I leave that one to the many men and women who enjoy a more "bejewelled" approach to their watches. For me, out of the two remaining watches, it has to be the regular black version rather than the closely related grey-brown dial limited edition, even if it is a virtual reproduction in modern terms of the classic 1960s Captain Cook.

The beautiful new Rado Captain Cook black dial 37mm watch with stainless steel bracelet; my favourite of all the watches in the collection (pic from timeandtidewatches.com):

The point is that the original Rado Captain Cook represents the developmental stage of what has become an incredibly ubiquitous watch style as it was smack in the middle of the James Bond, Dr. No, period of recreational diving. The dive watch style as represented by the Captain Cook in 1962 had then only just emerged from its "under construction" phase, and the Rado Captain Cook is a very pure and unadulterated example of that style. In recreating the old Captain Cook from a literal replication to a less exact reproduction, and keeping the watches in period size, Rado sends us on a voyage of discovery - not forwards but backwards in time. This threesome of Rado 37mm Captain Cook watches is a peach of retro production, allowing us to compare the historical essence of a crucial style of wristwatch with modern equivalents that now hail from almost every decent watch company, in true dive form or merely dive style.

Rear view of the 37mm limited edition Rado Captain Cook (pic from i2.wp.com/i63.tinypic.com):

As the new Rado Captain Cook collection evolves, there will no doubt be more colourways and variations made available, and one hope I have is that they will produce a 40mm version of the three 37mm watches, in addition perhaps to a 40mm version of the larger watch. The trend recently has been towards a gradual reduction in case size towards 40mm as something of a norm. However, for my wrist, 37mm (or to be exact, 37.3mm) is pretty much ideal. As a final note, I know that I haven't commented on the prices for the 37mm versions of the Captain Cook. Obviously, when one is paying over a thousand pounds for a watch, careful consideration is needed for the less pecunious buyer. The 37mm Rado Captain Cook watches are perhaps a little expensive for what they are in terms of materials and horological complications, but I don't believe that puchasers of these rather lovely timepieces will be overly concerned about those factors here; this collection just has the scent of something special.

All four new Captain Cook watches in one picture (pic from ch24.pl):

Yes, women are invited to the party as well, not only with this model but why not with the other 37mm varieties (pic from deployant.com):
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Thanks for persevering with a great article, I am sure a lot of know the sinking feeling when the computer swallows hours of work, never to be seen again. Do you know what the actual tie-in is with the Captain Cook, if any?

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Many thanks for the positive responses to this topic.

I'm not sure that there any real tie-in with Captain Cook; I believe that the firm just named the watch in honour of the explorer.

For those interested in a follow-on from my 2017 article, there is a useful piece on Hodinkee linking the 2017 Captain Cook watches to a review of the 2019 Captain Cook Automatic. This article can be found at: hodinkee.com/articles/hands-on-rado-captain-cook-automatic#:~:text=Though%20they%20typically%20made%20dress,an%20article%20published%20in%202003.

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