Rado update their classic vintage diver with a new case material...
Rado is a brand that needs no introduction. Whilst it might not have the same fanbase as other brands in the Swatch Group, the company has some decent heritage. Rado has existed for over a century and in that time has become renowned for its use of high-tech materials.
Oddly enough, one of their biggest hits in recent memory is a reissue of one of their more run-of-the-mill watches - the Captain Cook. The original watch was released in 1962, at a time when dive watches were vital tools made for a specific purpose.
Of course, Rado can’t resist combining this traditional diver with their affinity for high-tech materials, and at the start of the year they released the Captain Cook in bronze, with a retail price of £2,415. The appeal of using bronze is that unlike steel the bronze will develop a natural patina over time. The idea being that the watch will take on its own character as it’s worn. In fact this press sample we’ve received has started to develop a light patina of its own, and it’s noticeably more dull than the model’s press photos.
The Rado Captain Cook Bronze - What it does
With the Captain Cook Rado have done an excellent job of striking a balance between classic Sixties’ aesthetics, and the specifications demanded of a modern diver. The watch is water resistant to a decent 300m, and the domed sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel provide protection from scrapes and scratches.Whilst the case is bronze, the screw-in case back is titanium. This is to minimise any contact between the wearer’s skin and the bronze, which could speed up the oxidation process. It’s centre is adorned with one of Rado’s iconic images- a trio of seahorses.
Underneath the case back you’ll find the ETA C07 movement. The 25 jewel automatic beats at a rate of 3Hz and has a hefty 80 hour power reserve. So, if you’re the type of person who takes their watch off for the weekend you needn’t worry about your watch having stopped come Monday.
Despite its 42mm size, the Captain Cook wears well on my small wrists, though I wouldn’t want it to be any bigger. It’s also just 12.5mm thick, which is nice and thin for a watch of this size. The bronze has an all-brushed finish that keeps the watch from looking too formal. If the bronze was polished I think the watch would look more like a piece of jewellery than a tool watch.
The bezel turns in a series of exceptionally satisfying clicks. It’s a very solid action, but I feel as though it could do with being a touch smoother. That said, the bezel wins me back with its unusual concave insert. Not that it really matters with a ceramic insert, but the fact it slopes inwards protects it from scratches. Combined with the domed crystal it adds some delightful character to the watch.The dial is delightfully clean and simple, and of course copies the layout of the original. The deep emerald green of the sunburst dial is pretty mesmerising in person, and the colour pairs wonderfully with the bronze case. Likewise the golden applied markers match well with the green, and they give off a subtle warm glint when they catch the light.
Something you can’t really appreciate about the watch until you see it in person is that the dial is actually curved. It’s a subtle thing, but together with the minute track printed on the sloped rehaut, it provides a great sense of depth.
I’m also keen on the quirky font chosen for the “Captain Cook” text. It’s a small detail, but one that really stands out against the clean dial. Likewise the purple and gold Rado logo also pops. The anchor itself also spins, which is a cool feature originally designed to indicate when a service was required.
The brushed broad arrow handset is nice and legible, with a nice level of finishing all round. I was quite surprised to find that the faux-aged lume is reasonably bright. It’s not the brightest on the market, but thanks to the large markers and hands, it’s still easy enough to read in the dark.
The green leather strap is delightfully supple, and overall its quality is excellent. My one complaint about it is that it’s a bit big for my 6.75” wrists! Personally I would like to wear the watch just one notch tighter, and it’s frustrating Rado didn’t add another hole to the strap.
Watch straps for the Rado Captain Cook Bronze
Speaking of straps, the Captain Cook Bronze has a 21mm lug width. It’s an odd choice that makes finding replacement straps a bit of a pain. Fortunately, we at WatchGecko have a few different straps that come in 21mm. Below are three straps that look great on the Captain Cook. And, whilst we don’t offer any of these with a bronze buckle, the Rado one can be fitted to all three to ensure it matches.
The Vintage Otley Padded Genuine Leather Watch Strap
Our Vintage Otley strap in brown is a great one to pair with the Captain Cook Bronze. The rich brown complements both the bronze case and the green dial, whilst giving the watch a smart-casual look.
The ZULUDIVER Quick Release Sailcloth Padded Divers Watch Strap
Next is the ZULUDIVER Quick Release Sailcloth Padded Divers Watch Strap. This is ideal for those of you who prefer to wear your diver on a more practical strap, and the beige stitching helps to pair the strap with the case.
The Simple Handmade Italian Leather Watch Strap
Finally there’s our Simple Handmade Italian Leather Strap in reddish brown. The minimalist design of the strap helps reinforce just how clean the dial is, and allows its bold colours to take centre stage.
Alternatives to the Rado Captain Cook Bronze
With a retail price of £2,415, the Captain Cook Bronze sits in a very competitive price bracket. There are a ton of great watches to choose from, and even though bronze watches aren't terribly common, here are three alternatives for those of you on the hunt for a bronze diver.
The Yema Superman Bronze - €1,399
Iconic French brand Yema have been making headlines thanks to their distinctive heritage models fitted with their own in-house movements. The Superman range comprises a bronze model that ticks many of the same boxes as the Captain Cook, but at a fraction of the price.
The Christopher Ward C60 Trident Bronze - £850
The C60 Trident offers a more contemporary take on the bronze dive watch. Whereas the Captain Cook oozes vintage charm, the Trident offers a more contemporary look. It boasts an impressive set of specifications at a great price. But, it falls somewhat short compared to the Captain Cook when it comes to the movement. Whilst the Rado has one of the newer ETA calibers, the Trident only has a standard Sellita SW200.
The Tudor Black Bay Bronze - £3,110
Whilst it’s more expensive than the Captain Cook, with a retail price of £3,110, the Black Bay Bronze is a tempting alternative. Not only is it from Rolex’s sister brand, but its in-house movement is a certified chronometer with a 70 hour power reserve. So whilst it’s certainly in a higher price bracket, you do get more for your money.
At the end of the day, it’s hard not to love the Rado Captain Cook. For starters it’s design is one that’s simple, but one that’s also iconically Rado. And the execution of that design has been pretty much flawless.
The colours work beautifully and the Captain Cook is a great example of how well green can work on a watch. Together with the bronze case it’s a match made in heaven. Some people might not get why you’d use bronze for a watch case, but the Captain Cook shows just how different it can make a watch feel.However despite all this, with an RRP of £2,415, it’s not exactly cheap. Personally, I’m torn as to whether or not it’s good value. On the one hand, there’s a lot of competition on this price range, and a lot of great watches to choose from. But, on the other hand it’s hard to criticise the watch itself. Because, at the end of the day what you’re getting is a watch that’s the complete package. It’s from a brand with true heritage, and the watch itself follows a classic vintage design and is made to a high standard. So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s up to you as to whether the price is worth it.
I feel like I’ve sang nothing but praise about the Captain Cook Bronze, but when you consider what it’s offering, it really is hard to find fault with the watch. The only criticisms I really have are that I’d like the bezel action to be smoother, and for the lugs to have a more conventional width. And I think the fact that there’s so little to criticise says everything about the standard of watch Rado has produced here.
You can purchase the Captain Cook Bronze direct from Rado’s website here.
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