back to top

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The experimental designs of the 1960s and 1970s seem to offer a deep well of “inspiration” for watch companies, and apparently the perfect mix of distinctive originality and nostalgia to win over 21st-century consumers. While some of those yesteryear watches might be too far-out to be brought back, even as “modern reinterpretations,” Swiss Rado has never shied away from the quirky. The horizontally rectangular Rado Manhattan represents the era well, and now reborn for 2018 with a titanium case and the Swatch Group’s 80-hour power reserve movement as the Rado Tradition 1965 XL, it is one of the funkiest watches I’ve worn in a while.

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Apparently inspired by the Manhattan skyline.

The Rado Tradition 1965 XL is based on the earlier Rado Manhattan which, in turn, based its design on the Manhattan skyline, we are told. The original version of the Rado Manhattan was produced from 1965 to 1973, and it was aimed at the American market with the intention of leveraging recent attention gained by the pioneering, ultra scratch-resistant Rado DiaStar. The Rado Captian Cook, that was also recently brought back and reviewed here, is also from around that time — though it is easy to see why the Captain Cook dive watch will have more mainstream appeal. The Rado Tradition 1965 XL, on the other hand, draws its charm from the era’s more eccentric side.

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Ads for early Rado Manhattan watches

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Distinctive would be one way to describe the Rado Tradition 1965 XL’s visual impact on the wrist. In this case, the “XL” part of the name (usually describing clothing rather than watches) is pretty appropriate — more so than, say, the also rectangular but significantly smaller-wearing Cartier Tank Solo XL. Horizontally rectangular and 44mm wide, the Rado Tradition 1965 XL wears about as prominently on the wrist as the 37mm Manhattan was probably perceived to in 1965 by contemporary watch size standards. I’ve worn watches with wider diameters — the 50mm-wide Sisu Carburetor Q1 reviewed here might hold the record for the largest I’ve actually been able to wear — but it bears repeating that square or rectangular watches wear larger than their measurements make it sound.

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The official dimensions of the Rado Tradition 1965 XL are 44mm by 44mm and 11.8mm in thickness. To clarify, 44mm wide does not include the crown, I believe, and the 44mm length means lug to lug — as the shape of the case not counting the lugs is clearly not square but rectangular. The thickness includes the curved sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating on both sides) that is one of my favorite parts of the Rado Tradition 1965 XL, as I always enjoy crystals with some sense of shape and depth. Here, the shape of the glued box crystal is an unusual one that helps the whole design flow more elegantly and avoid being overly boxy.

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

My understanding is that crystals with corners (as opposed to those that are round) present a particular challenge for water-resistance, making the original Rado Manhattan’s claimed water-resistance rating of 220m all the more impressive for its time in the 1960s and the modern Rado Tradition 1965 XL’s rating of only 50m somewhat disappointing in comparison. The Rado Tradition 1965 XL, however, has no pretensions as a sport watch. Neither is it a dress watch due to its size, or even what one could term a “versatile” watch. “Fashion watch,” perhaps? Why must we limit ourselves to such confining labels anyway?


Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

While the Rado Manhattan watches were made of steel, the new Rado Tradition 1965 XL has a titanium case. That’s a good thing since it would probably be quite heavy in steel, and its titanium lightness naturally improves wearability for what is still a watch with a bulky presence. While it is possible to polish bare titanium, it can often have a drab finish and be easily scratched, so the Rado Tradition 1965 XL has been given a polished PVD chrome coating. That chrome sheen is not something too often seen on many watches and, combined with the titanium, lends further to its overall period feel.

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rado Tradition 1965 XL Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Rado Tradition 1965 XL case shape recalls the idiosyncratic designs of the 1960s and 1970s, and that retro style is reinforced by the distinctive hands and indices. But the case itself does not necessarily seem as if of another era, and other elements of the Rado Tradition 1965 XL come across as very modern. The black leather strap, for example, is of high quality and goes a long way in making the Rado Tradition 1965 XL feel very slick and contemporary, at least as of the current late 2010s. It’s got a folding clasp made of steel that mostly folds under the strap with only a small polished push-button buckle showing on the outside, and an extension makes it easier to slide off and on. Swapping straps will be a little more difficult not only due to its very wide lug width, but finding a strap to match the Rado Tradition 1965 XL’s quirky style might be the bigger challenge.



Disqus Debug thread_id: 6860926011

  • I did NOT see this one coming!

  • Bozzor

    Damn, it just amazes me how fashion goes around in circles: in the 1980s and 1990s, these watch styles were so daggy as to have you laughed at. Now, they are retro cool and a great conversation starter. Not throwing out my acid wash flares yet…

  • Swiss_Cheese

    This is fantastic, the hands double as a tuning fork! If you ever had to tune a piano on the go you could slap your hand against the side and listen to the hands resonate. Truly taking the concept of a tool watch to another level!

  • Sam Soul

    Funny watch. I don’t see myself wearing it, but I like it.

    • egznyc

      I’m right with you. I’m glad they made this but probably not for me.

  • BrJean

    Great handset and outstanding case shape! Size is outstanding as well which is not a good thing.

  • SuperStrapper

    Chromed titanium… that’s a new one on me. Certainly improves the metal’s appearance anyway.

    • Gokart Mozart

      I would have just used a steel case tbh and made it a bit smaller at about a 40mm size.

      Don’t see the point of using titanium and then make it look like steel. How long before the chrome starts flaking off?

      • SuperStrapper

        I’m not sure if it is traditionally ‘chromed’ like a TrueTemper shaft would be, and I hope not because while that is excellent chromoming when it does flake they are like little knoves: very sharp. The article says PVC in chrome so I hope they just mean the colour.
        All that aside I am on your side, a nice steel case would have been fine and given the same appearance. Who is struggling to lug around these evil ghastly heavy steel watches these days?

  • Leonarr

    What a surprising and fun watch. I wouldn’t wear it as it’s too huge for me, but I like it. I’m not 100% sure about the date window as its left border is very close to the center of the watch – the more I look at it, the weirder it looks to me.

  • Larry Holmack

    Damn I’m old!!!! I remember drooling over this watch when I was in middle school in the late 1960’s.
    Thanks for the memories Zen!

    • SuperStrapper

      And now its finally big enough to fit you…

    • ZL

      This one might be just right for your… what was it? Like 8″ wrists?

      • Larry Holmack

        23 cm…almost 9 inches.

  • PR

    Too big, I think there is a smaller version that looks better proportioned, this looks too “Diesel” to me.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    What a silly shape for a watch. Lots of wasted space. Daft dumpy wee hands.
    It’s a no from me.

  • ZL

    There is a 35mm version also.

    • anonymous

      Yes, but it doesn’t look the same – no day/date, different colours. I’d want one that looks exactly like the one reviewed, but scaled to around 38-40mm.

  • Gokart Mozart

    I have to say I really like it. Modern but vintage at the same time. It looks different but in a good way.

    Shame it’s not in steel and they should add a third version at 40mm. Although I would probably go for a non lumed version, Zen is right it would look cool loaded up with lume.

  • Joe

    You can wear it only if you’re worthy…

  • Joe

    Great review!
    Interesting watch too, although it’s not for me.

    Just like you mention, those hour markers are really calling for generous heaps of lume. They even have the grooves for it and it’s almost like they forgot!
    It’s also a huge shame it doesn’t have anywhere near the 220m of water resistance in the original watch.
    These two are deal-breakers for me.

    Lastly…you probably have the best-looking wrists out of the entire ABTW staff.
    I hadn’t noticed before. (•??•?)??

    • ZL

      Lol thanks! I think David probably has the best watch-modeling wrists though 🙂

      • David Bredan

        Haha, we both sure put a lot of time into wrist modeling — but I guess neither of us would want to make it our main career 8o)

  • Zen, if you don’t mind let me show here the blue version, which is the one I reviewed:

    And also the 35 mm one:

    I find the watch extremely cool and appealing, and Rado deserves far more credit than it gets. At least they try, even if only every now and then.

    • The 35mm looks great and very understated!

    • egznyc

      Very interesting and thanks for sharing. I think I’d prefer with the 35mm iteration having the name right beneath 12:00 and putting the anchor just above 6:00. That would feel more balanced to me anyway.

  • 4tens

    So cool, well priced, and limited edition…??…

  • Ulysses31

    It’s a beautiful masculine block of a watch, and looks better than the vintage models on which it is based. I wonder how well the chrome plating will hold up. Regardless of the weight, I think I would have preferred steel. Legibility is a little iffy with this type of layout, but is a compromise i’d be willing to make for something that looks this good.

  • keyser

    The ref.# r33017155 is the black dial model, I’m waiting on the AD to let me know if it can be ordered.

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