back to top

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Swiss Rado is working to offer more for fans of modern mechanical watches who may tend to see the brand as characterized by a lot of quartz and an aesthetic that looks modernist from a 1980s perspective. Part of the challenge in appealing to more male watch lovers is putting all the strong visual DNA the brand has cultivated into something more contemporary-looking. The Rado Ceramica Automatic represents all these things and more about the brand, including Rado’s early role in using ceramic as a watch material, of course. What the Rado Ceramica comes down to for me, however, is a refreshingly “different” wearing experience compared to most watches, and I mean that in a very good way.

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Ceramica collection has been around since 1990, but it fits right in with the brand’s aesthetic, particularly with similarly non-round collections like the Integral that came before it and shortly later, the Sintra. I believe the Ceramica was meant to embody the brand’s values of minimalist, modernist styling and use of ceramic. As is pretty well-known, Rado pioneered ceramic watches with the “first scratch-resistant watch” in 1962, the Diastar, made of tungsten carbide. Nowadays, ceramic watches and ceramic watch parts (especially bezels) are everywhere—not least from Rado’s Swatch Group siblings, which makes one wonder about how much Rado’s own expertise has helped brands from Omega to Blancpain steal the ceramic spotlight.

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado introduced the redesigned Ceramica in 2016 and then announced the Automatic models in 2017. The automatic versions are thicker to accommodate mechanical movements and have different dial designs than the quartz. The new models sure look like an improvement on the outgoing collection and indeed more modern in design. More importantly, the Rado Ceramica Automatic gets some key features right in its design and execution.

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Rado Ceramica is certainly quirky and “different” from a traditional watch design standpoint, and of course it will be polarizing. Most people will have made up their minds about whether or not it’s a watch for them. So rather than trying to make everyone happy, Rado’s goal should be to satisfy those who are naturally attracted to this type of (or this particular) design. With all of Rado’s quartz watches with glossy ceramic, the brand’s perception as making women’s watches is another hurdle for a men’s watch like the Ceramica Automatic. There are Ceramica models clearly aimed at women, but at least these couple of Automatic versions are definitely conceived with male consumers in mind (even if some might deridingly call them “unisex”).

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Aside from the automatic movement inside, which is something male watch lovers disproportionately tend to value, Rado did a couple of things to imbue some masculinity in a watch shape not typically associated with modern men’s watches. The first is the ceramic’s matte finish, and this is really successful, in my opinion. A number of times, I have seen pictures of Rado watches that looked cool but then just turned out to be far too glossy in person for my taste. While the deep black color is almost austere, the matte ceramic has a very soft texture to both the skin and the eye, and it is easy to visually appreciate the almost organic contours of the case and bracelet.


Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Another important part of the Rado Ceramica was sizing it for men. That means a case that measures 30mm wide by 41.7mm tall, with a thickness of 12.3mm—that’s not that big, but it is bigger than the women’s versions and reasonably well proportioned for many male wrists. I said it’s a quirky watch, and this 30mm width is where Quirk #1 comes in. A major design feature that defines the Ceramica collection is a near uniform width from the watch head where the bracelet hardly tapers at all. In this case, the watch’s bracelet is a burly 25mm all the way to the underside of the wrist, sometimes making the watch head itself appear too small. This is all subjective, and I get that this is part of the Ceramica DNA and gives the watch a certain distinctiveness, but I feel that a bit thinner might have been more elegant.

Rado Ceramica Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Sticking with the bracelet, Quirk #2 has to do with the clasp. It is made of titanium and functionally is of the butterfly variety, but with one short piece and one longer. The issue here is that it causes a bit of a gap sometimes—at least on my bony and angular wrist (seriously, if your wrist is rounder than mine, it might not be a problem at all). If Rado is going for one adjective with the Ceramica, I think it’s “sleek.” So getting the bracelet to hug and flow with the wearer should be an important consideration, and I wonder if this could have been addressed with cutaways on the inside of the bracelet links for the clasp to fit into—just a thought. Both the clasp and the wide bracelet are things that kind of irked me at first but that have come to not bother me anymore—this is part of the value of a long-term review.

Watch Brands



Disqus Debug thread_id: 6690831585

  • Mikita

    Most boring watch in the entire universe. This design got tired back in the 80s, like padded shoulders or acid wash denim. But Swatch Group keeps using and using it. Today it looks as stylish as peroxide hair and as exciting as a ceramic toilet bowl.

    • Horum Positivium

      So true. I can’t imagine the sort of person who’d actually buy this.

      • BJ314

        Eastern European. Mainland Chinese.

        • Mikita

          Well, thanks. I’m Eastern European, and I hate this watch.

        • ILOW

          I’m Western European living in Mainland China and I think this watch is souless. “Hate” however, is a tad strong.

          • Mikita

            True. From my observation, most Chinese get Rolex or Breitling among luxury watches, and others wear anything from Seiko to Apple watch, but I’ve never ever seen any Rado here. Maybe “hate” is too strong word, and I like some Rados like Captain Cook. “Boring” or “uninspiring” are better words for the subject watch.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      That distinction goes to the Tag Monaco, but this comes a very very close second.

      • Mikita

        Heuer Monaco is a feast of fun compared to this Rado. And Monaco is from late 60s, not 80s.

    • Warsh

      Don’t sugar coat it. Go ahead and tell us how you really feel….!

      • Mikita

        Feeling ok. Hate this watch.

    • Sheez Gagoo
      • Mikita

        These look more exciting.

  • “even if some might deridingly call them “unisex”

    Why would referring to something as unisex be ‘deriding’ it? A 34mm watch is a unisex size. A baseball hat is a unisex piece of clothing. A messenger bag is a unisex accessory. It describes precisely the intent behind the design.

    I understand that some women wear larger size watches – my own 5′ girlfriend rocks a 42mm Seiko 7002 – and some men prefer the smaller, vintage sizes of 36 and 34mm, and, to that end, ANYTHING could be called ‘unisex’ really…

    I’m sorry, I lost my point for a moment. Right, this ridiculously outdated Rado. It looks like a Fitbit and 1986 had a baby. And it died.

    • Marius

      “It looks like a Fitbit and 1986 had a baby.”

      Good line. I do sort of like the watch though…

      • You know what I think would bring some more appeal to this model? Different colors. All black watches look cheap to me. Bronze ceramic with a chocolate sunburst dial?

        • egznyc

          I guess you could get Hublot to combine ceramic with bronze; would look cool if it looked more or less like bronze but with greater hardness, along with that chocolate sunburst dial. Mmmmm. But then they’ve never shown much design restraint, and this rado might be a tad boring but at least it’s not gaudy.

      • Is that you man,
        Or just a brilliant disguise?

        • Marius

          I only share a name with the late lamented one. And a fondness for SE Asian chickboys….

    • Kuroji

      Incel sized.

  • SuperStrapper

    They wouldn’t keep making them if they didn’t sell. Looking at the watch on it’s own I just cant get past the outdated look, but to be fair it does look better on the wrist than subjectively on it’s own.

    I like the brand and their contributions but this one would be a respectable pass for me.

  • I think Rado are treated unfairly…it’s a unique look that identifies them, and it is a good quality watch with materials whose use they pioneered.

    I might not wear 90% of their watches, but I could easily wear this watch in rotation.


    To give credit where it is due Rado has been producing outdated looking ceramic watches for a lot longer than everyone else . However, in this case I think they got passed (by a hair) the outdated look. There is something about this one maybe because it is narrower than usual and not shiny ceramic (which looks so wrong) but as one said in the comments they must be selling to keep making them. I have seen a few in the wild on older gentlemen but aiming for a different target audience w some new colors as Valannin pointed out would be a good move. Keep the greyish black ceramic but then do a fun dial something like a blue sunburst dial something a tad more modern. Funny they went for the Ti clasp that will scratch like crazy while the rest will look brand new for years … odd choice but for the price w a ceramic bracelet this is not a bad deal even at msrp

    • Bossman

      Clasp is on the inside of the bracelet so will not really scratch as not exposed.

  • One time I considered Rado and Movado the coolest things ever. I’ve mercifully outgrown that phase. The ’80s vibe is not necessarily a bad thing though, in a Back To The Future kind of way.

  • Warsh

    Looks like the anchor in the logo moves around just like it does on the captian cook. Gotta give them points for that…..

  • PR

    I used to have the R5.5 all ceramic in matte and it was stellar, very comfy and looked like new all the time. the tiny crown and plastic inserts were issued back then as well and to be honest that design still looks a tad modern compared to this one. Not sure why they are not expanding this concept to new styles and designs , this looks like a re release and nothing much new

    • Sheez Gagoo

      A big problem with Rado is that the gaskets become liquid after a while.

  • Also, I could easily see someone wearing an Apple watch who would upgrade to this Rado — and that’s a good thing for everyone.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Not bad. I seriously could see myself wearing one.

  • SLF

    Honestly, I would like to own one of these one day. Love the durability of it.

  • egznyc

    I’m interested in a square watch – but not desperately – and ceramic is something different. The dial is legible. So not bad, except it doesn’t score high on the excitement scale, especially at $2.5K.

    The teeny tiny crown is a real buzz killer, too.

  • joe Shmoe

    regular ceramic is what coffee mugs are made from.

  • Larry Holmack

    I like square and rectangular watches…and have several in my collection. Back in my college years..forty years ago ( lordy am I getting old!) …. Rado was the watch to have on your wrist! I remember saving up my money from working at Kmart just so I could buy a pair of Rado sun glasses! But…again that was 40 years ago..

  • Kuroji

    “High-technology ceramics” is a generic industry term for any of: high-performance ceramics,
    engineering ceramics, technical ceramics, advanced ceramics, and structural ceramics.
    It refers to the idea that the microstructure is engineered using advanced processing and materials. The term originated in the 80’s.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Good review of a new interpretation of a classic.
    Well done.

  • benjameshodges

    Zen, refer to this article:

    If it’s mentioned that ceramic is prone to shatter it should be mentioned that steel is prone to crumple or gold is prone to melt.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed this article. I’d say Rado are a few years off nailing this design but they’ll get their Octo Finissimo-moment in time.

  • Ulysses31

    It looks so “Eighties”. I like the blue lume but this watch is what i’d expect to see on the wrist of Michael Knight.

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, png.