Swiss watchmaker Rado has a history with unusual materials, starting with the original DiaStar in 1962, which was cased entirely in tungsten (which Rado refers to as “hardmetal”) and was marketed as the “world’s first scratch-proof watch.” The success of this timepiece set the company on a path of innovation with materials, and by 1986 they had begun using ceramics extensively for their watch cases and bracelets, which offered a similar level of scratch resistance while being much lighter than tungsten. The use of ceramic with its ultra-modern aesthetic has since become one of the brand’s defining features, and with the Rado HyperChrome Bronze Chronograph they are experimenting with a juxtaposition of vintage styling and the use of bronze – mankind’s oldest alloy – with Rado’s signature “high-tech” ceramic.
The Rado HyperChrome Bronze Chronograph offers an eye-catching mix of different finishing techniques, including a vertically-brushed dial, circular graining for the chronograph registers at 3 and 9 o’clock, and a polished bezel with an engraved tachymeter scale with white lacquer-filled numerals. The side inserts, chronograph pushers, and crown are made of CuSn8 bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin with good corrosion resistance in saltwater, commonly used in marine applications. The dial’s Arabic numerals, hour indexes, and hands are rose gold colored to match the bronze (at least pre-patina), and contrast well against all the black ceramic. A discreet date window is included at 4:30, and the dial is covered by a curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides. White Super-LumiNova on the hands and indexes assists with night legibility, and the case is water-resistant to 10 Bar (approximately 100m), which makes it suitable for swimming with, although that wouldn’t do the leather any favors.
The case of the Rado HyperChrome Bronze Chronograph is 45mm wide by 13mm tall, so this isn’t a small watch by any means. Instead of their usual ceramic bracelet, Rado has opted to include a brown leather strap here to enhance the vintage look, which features a stainless steel extendable folding clasp. Powering the Rado HyperChrome Bronze Chronograph is an ETA 2894-2 movement, visible through the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback. This is an automatic chronograph movement with a 42 hour power reserve, which Rado have customized with a black oscillating rotor. They have advised that this movement is decorated, but have not supplied any images as of yet for us to determine how extensive this decoration is. The caseback is also engraved with the text “LIMITED EDITION ONE OUT OF 999” and this seems to infer that these watches will not be individually numbered, despite the limited release.
I cannot help but feel that the Rado HyperChrome Bronze Chronograph is somewhat late to the party, with bronze watches peaking in popularity over the last couple of years. They’ve managed to retain the distinctive Rado look with the black ceramic case, but the bronze elements on the side of the dial seem like a bit of an afterthought. Still, this should make for a bold and eyecatching chronograph for those that like the mix of old-world and modern aesthetics, and the developing patina on the bronze should add a bit of interest and personality to the watch. The cost won’t break the bank either, with an asking price of 4,900 CHF. rado.com