Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It was about 2012 when Rado first released the HyperChrome collection of watches which, in my opinion, represents an interesting character and dimension to the brand. Rado's self identity has been in flux over the last few years as the brand seeks to position itself appropriately in today's market. The Swatch Group-owned brand has had considerable historic success with timepieces ranging from sport models to distinctive formal watches in ceramic. The Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph continues the brand's strength in ceramic, an honor it earned long ago, for a new generation of mechanical watch lovers. So let's check out this easy-to-wear and -enjoy ceramic sports watch and discuss where I think it fits into the overall picture of modern timepieces.

On various occasions over the last few years I've had opportunities to discuss Rado's history and ceramic watches. It was in the early 1980s, I believe, that Rado began to produce watches with zirconium oxide cases and bracelets. Zirconium oxide is the particular type of ceramic which most ceramic watches are made of. Oftentimes in watchmaking this is known as "high-tech ceramic." Rado was the innovator in ceramic watches, which is a fact lost on many people today given that ceramic as a luxury watch material has been used prolifically.

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Credit probably goes to Chanel for making ceramic a popular material for modern watches. In the early 2000s the Chanel J12 collection brought both black and white ceramic to the masses, which made the material a real phenomenon. Ceramic is a useful material in watchmaking for a range of reasons. Principle among them is that ceramic is very difficult to scratch, meaning that ceramic-cased watches do not appear to age, really. The color is permanent, in that it won't fade or blemish over time, and that the material is both non-magnetic and hypoallergenic. The downside of ceramic is that because it is more rigid than metal, it can crack if subject to enough force. I've never personally cracked a ceramic watch, but it has been known to happen.

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In my opinion, the drawbacks of ceramic watches are far outweighed by the positives which include the wear-resistance, as well as the colors. Looking on Rado's website right now, I can count at least eight different color styles of the HyperChrome chronograph. These include the ceramic case material rendered as three shades of gray, brown, white, black, yellow gold tone, and rose gold tone. Few brands have the sophistication of Rado when it comes to using ceramic materials for cases and bracelets. The brand definitely deserves a lot more credit for its innovation in ceramic as a case material, which is credit the brand no doubt wants to have more of. A close inspection of the way their cases are made reveals a level of technical ingenuity really not found in most other ceramic-cased watches - especially at these prices.

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Rado HyperChrome Chronograph watch cases are monobloc, meaning they are produced from a single piece of ceramic. These models have interesting designs which include PVD-coated rose gold-toned steel flanks and combination of both the brand's "plasma high-tech ceramic" as well as "Ceramos" ceramic parts for the case and bracelet components. This results in both a range of colors as well as finishes, as the ceramic parts of the watch are offered in both high-polish and matte surfaces.

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At 45mm wide, the Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph wears more comfortably than you might assume. It isn't a small watch, but it doesn't feel massive either. I see it as an intentionally bold "statement watch" which is exactly how Rado sees its appeal. Wearing this watch, I thought to myself, "at what point in my life would I have most appreciated it?" The answer (for me) was in my early 20s given what I feel is a very youthful appeal to the design. At its heart, you have a conservative profile, functional layout, and wearing experience. The watch is not at all offensive or divisive, but it does have a traditional look with attention grabbing materials, finishes, and a modern, architectural design which I think is absolutely ideal for young people with an artistic heart who have something they want to communicate about themselves.

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It isn't as though you can't wear the Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph if you are more mature and the design appeals to you. It is rather that I think a timepiece like this makes a great item for people just entering the world of "serious watches," and who want something "different" from an otherwise established brand. Part of the youthful appeal comes from the way the design tends to exaggerate the proportions of a classic chronograph layout. The chronograph subdials - which are made three-dimensional by applied frames - overlap one another a bit, creating an interesting sense of "artistic tension" which adds character.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (4)
  • I love it! (2)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I want it! (0)
  • The 2 tone thing seems a bit 80s to me. If that’s the look you want fine, but I’m past that idiom personally. Alos, the hands on the registers/sub-dials look a bit short to me (I know that was so the they would not intrude into the bottom register, but still…). Or would it loose its personality in a monochrome colorway? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bfdc9dbe2a05d5e763732315902d46d9803fe3fbb9e872b15ef9c1b92f2d1458.jpg

    • ??????

      Way better IMO…

    • ??????

      Would it look better in steel? Imagine just a normal ss case with combination of brushed and polished surfaces… I guess this watch could look awesome in ss, without dual tone and with a bit longer sub-hands (like in your example).

      • Omegaboy

        It would also have some heft to it, which I like.

        • SuperStrapper

          Ceramic is not light. This watch on bracelet would have a nice wrist feel.

          • ??????

            Titanium carbide is 4,93 gr/cm3, and 316l steel is ~8 gr/cm3. 40% is sensible, I agree with Omegaboy.

          • SuperStrapper

            There wasn’t anything to agree or disagee with…

            Although, there would be nothing very special about this watch in steel, and I’d wager it would be little short of unremarkable. $1500 watch at best.

          • Kuroji

            ZrO2 is a bit heavier, but it depends on the sintering of course.

          • ??????

            Yes, I wasn’t sure either it is made from ZrO2 or TiC or TiCN. But anyway, any of them is much lighter than steel. I would personally prefer the heft of ss watch to lightness of ceramic.

  • ??????

    Not my cuppa.. I don’t like ceramic watches at all, think it better suits woman’s watches. But these gold accents over glossy ceramic are so tacky, reminds me of golden teeth, chains, and bizarre car tuning with gold accents. For 5k I wouldn’t even think of Rado, tbh.
    But there are still features I like: especially the case shape. Look at the profile on the wrist! Cool in kinda Rolex way – reminds of oyster cases actually,and it isn’t bad, considering it also houses a chrono. Dial layout is my favorite for chronos, but something is just wrong from geometrical standpoint. I think proportions don’t play well together.

    • Berndt Norten

      I like ceramic on my bathroom floor, my coffee mugs. OK I appreciate what Limoges has given the world. But why do we need that material on our wrists?!??

  • Pœrtöle DuFèr

    This is actually the official watch of the World Federation of Pimps, Brothel Owners and Fractional Ownership Human Capital Managers, and was designed with detailed and extensive input from their members.

  • I actually really like it. It’s blingy in a future/retro kind of way and gold + ceramic works very well.

    I agree with Mark that the chrono hands are too short but that’s my only gripe with it!

  • BNABOD

    The case looks really nice it hugs your wrist but the price certainly hugs your wallet. Gold and silver is not my thing at all though

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I really like that grey colour.

  • SuperStrapper

    Not a fan of the 2-tone, but Mark turned it into a real winner. I know there will be gripes about size and price, considering the ETA base, but with all the well done ceramic and the discounts you could certainly achieve at an AD I would argue that this is well priced, and nicely sized.

    When I saw the first picture and dial layout I had my hopes up that is contained an El Primers, which would have made it very attractive.

    I agree that the date window is a bit of a blemish. The stepped openeding for it is nice, but I wonder if a frame would have been better looking. A white-on-black wheel likely would have done better than the ubiquitous black-on-white.

    I am a fan of ceramics in watches, when done correctly like this example. It looks luxurious when finished well, and while I’m almost always turned off by white ceramics the gunmetal colours are very nice. I’d like to see someone attempt a aged brass or oil-rubbed bronze hue in ceramic.

    • Bill W

      I was thinking that too, about El Primero. That would have been something.

  • Jon Heinz

    I like the direction they’re going here. Most Rado designs I could never fully get my head around. This is really smooth and more traditional.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    no thank-you.

  • Shinytoys

    Always have enjoyed My Rado’s dating back to the 70′ s and the original Diastar! Beautiful pieces.

  • cg

    Hyperchrome is nice but still think the “Original” is the benchmark for Rado in their invention of the ceramic watch. BTW ceramic is exactly the material you want if you drop your watch. Rado ceramic watches do not suffer like a steel/gold cased watches besides I love he smooth comfortable feel of my Originals. Now if you hit it with a hammer it will shatter but what watch would survive that abuse…?

  • Grumpy Cat

    I like this watch but cannot afford it. $4800 is too much for my budget. I like two-tone and so does my son. I just bought this one for him for Christmas. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b54a3091df43145be2229f67c945a91109b1f752a58482756bd5121bd352ee99.jpg

  • Ulysses31

    I think it looks really nice, and it’s reassuring to know that the finish, which I see as the primary distinguishing factor, won’t fade over time. The gold accents, and the gold slug on the left side, are certainly different and i’m not yet sure if I like them. The Carsonised version looks less blingy, more respectable. My primary complaint would be the compromised functionality of the subdials. This is definitely a form/fashion over function piece, so I doubt that would be too much of a problem for the buyer.

  • beardedman

    Maybe I missed it or maybe another term was used for it, but is this thing chrome plated? I’m not all that familiar with ceramic so I don’t know if it can be polished to that level. In any case, I have a like/dislike approach to it. It’s stylish and as you mention, artistic. The thing you don’t like, I actually do; the little round date on a white background. If it were not white, it would get lost in that busy cluster. I like two-tone when it’s done right (and I think my Datejust is the definition of “done right”). But the polish and semi-soft edges to this watch make me think of cheap, chrome plated Timexes. Obviously this is a far better watch. At 45mm it’s monstrous though.

    • SuperStrapper

      No chrome. That finish is indicative of quality ceramics, and ilis basically impervious to the daily wear and tear marks a steel watch would have: swirlies, etc, just from having it on. With normal wear that watch will look just the same 10 years from now.

    • Kuroji

      They use a plasma sputtering technique to introduce metal into the ceramic matrix’s surface layer. IIRC.

  • Leland

    Looks way better here than it does in Rado’s own stock photos. I hope I can find one to try on; it’d make a good companion to the gold PVD Centrix I have now. It probably needs some half-links for adjustment, though, judging by the pressure marks on Ariel’s wrist.

    • Kuroji

      Rado always loses me when I see them in person.

  • 4tens

    Wow Finally, a Rado being constructively raised on Ariel’s Blog.
    Well Done and Thank you!
    Now it seems Rado has left the ’80’s to now attract the Millenial crowd…
    Rado is so unique in its finishing, with lots of steps in those ceramic pieces. Also to me a Rado in someone’s inventory becomes unlike any other watch that have such a homogenous look (aka Omega … sorry folks). Rado puts research and development into the design frame at a moderate price points. I’m in!

  • commentator bob

    Five grand for a Valjoux 7753 from a third tier Swatch Group brand? If you are going to spend five grand on a Swatch Group chronograph it should say Omega Speedmaster Professional on the dial. There are also less expensive options from Longines with a better column wheel equipped version of the 7753

  • Salil Arora

    The magnificent HyperChrome timepieces are the DNA of the Rado brand. The speciality of the watches is that it’s simple yet effective and also very stylish in design.

  • Evonnie Jones

    Wow! It’s pleasure to witness this amazing Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. Through this wonderful review I have been able to know the worth of this watch.