I can’t find much to complain about when it comes to the dial and case design here, as I think Rado has knocked it out of the park. Large, legible hands are easy to read and the anti-reflective coating makes it so glare was never really an issue in the weeks I wore this watch. The date window, while often a “controversial” design choice is one that I’d rather have than not have here. The background of the date disc matches the dial color, but even more importantly, my biggest gripe with date windows is having to reset the date if I put the watch down for a couple of days and it doesn’t get wound.
With the 80 hour power reserve here, that issue didn’t come up once. My personal Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 is the watch I wear the most these days when I’m not trying out a review piece and the caliber 3187 movement that powers it gets a 48 hour power reserve. I was distinctly annoyed with having to reset the date so often when it was in rotation with 3 other watches this past month. Obviously, there are many pros that come with certain in-house movements, but as for a practical everyday wear option, I was very happy with the Rado Captain Cook.
I can see the sloped bezel being a feature that turns some people off in theory, but I think it looks so good and it feels very solid with each turn of the 120 clicks. Ceramic is the hot material these days, but I am glad the Captain Cook actually retains a look that’s more akin to glossy than the shiny ceramic I’ve seen in so many other watches. Maybe it’s the way the blue of the bezel matches up with the blue on the dial, but the part of my brain that finds solace in aesthetic cohesion is happy every time I looked down at my wrist. I guess a good way of simplifying this sentiment is to put it this way: if you like how this watch looks in photos, you won’t be disappointed when you try it on the wrist. That is far from true for many, if not most, wristwatches.
Turning the Captain Cook over, you’ll see the seahorse and star pattern reminiscent of and inspired by the original Captain Cook watches from the 1960s. I understand the original Captain Cook watches had a “kissing seahorse” motif on the caseback that continued on the bracelet clasp. I suppose Rado rightfully realized the seahorses on the clasp for a reissue would seem a bit odd to modern watch buyers, but I even found them to be random on the caseback. But, at least they’re engraved well and look high quality. Otherwise, I could take it or leave it.
Of course, behind the caseback is housed the ETA C07.611, which is a more recent Swatch movement that is going to be a mainstay and you’ll also recognize it from its other iterations like the Tissot Powermatic 80. Yes, the movement frequency went down from 4Hz to 3Hz in order to draw less power from the balance wheel, meaning the seconds hand could have swept in a more “buttery smooth” way but it wasn’t jittery in any way. In fact, I’d rate the seconds hand movement as…smooth. More importantly, the lower movement frequency will inevitably lead to an inaccuracy of a second or two a day, which is something I did observe. To be honest, when I remove myself from the siloed thinking of being so engrossed in the watch world, I can’t imagine a consumer preferring those seconds of accuracy over such a leap in power reserve.
The Rado Captain Cook is, hands down, one of my favorite releases of this past year. It’s not that it does anything groundbreaking or anything that hasn’t been done before, but rather, it shows that the brand knows what consumers expect in design, materials, performance, and history and successfully created a product with that in mind. In a way, it’s a similar outcome that Tudor initially had with its Heritage Black Bay. I just didn’t expect it from Rado, and that’s not me putting them down. I love it when I see the unexpected, because it truly happens so rarely and with the Captain Cook, Rado has knocked it out of the park. What do I want now? Well, I want to see what Rado shows us next year because expectations are going to be high. Price for this 45mm model on the fabric strap is $2,400 and is available on their site. rado.com
>Model: Captain Cook
>Price: $2,400 USD
>Size: 45mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes, seriously considering purchasing one.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone who loves the style of a vintage watch but prefers modern materials and movements.
>Best characteristic of watch: The near-flawless design execution of the case and dial.
>Worst characteristic of watch: There are issues with the toughness of the strap that are really hard to ignore.