Tim goes over his thoughts on the RADO Captain Cook Re-Issue with plenty of hands on experience...
"Oh, by the way, the case looks smaller than you think it would be" these were amongst the first words I heard when passed the package for the new 2017 Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook Re-Issue at the end of 2017. Although a double take was inevitable ( I currently have four 40mm + divers on my desk at the moment, not including the 40mm one on the wrist), the Captain Cook's 37mm size wasn't a complete surprise. Ever since the Captain Cook was made available, it experienced a solid amount of press coverage and with just over a month on the wrist, I can see why.
As you can see here, the Rado is certainly a baby diver when compared to larger sized divers we're more use to seeing...
The Captain Cook was one of many watches announced at Baselworld last year which looked back to go forwards. However, much like the Timex Marlin recently reviewed, the Captain Cook has stayed extremely faithful to the original and avoided bumping up the case diameter to a size we're more used to seeing. A move like this normally splits the watch community right down the middle, with many favouring a larger case size, more in line with what we've seen in the past 10 or so years of watchmaking. It's not just the case size which remains from the 60's original...
The indices, hands and date window all stay relatively the same with printed indices being the preferred choice. In a typical move for RADO, the anchor in their logo also is pivoted, meaning it spins and changes position when worn, something which not many others would care about, but it's a pretty cool little feature. The hands and indices also have a slight faux patina to them which just feels right on this re-issue.
Why the Captain Cook?
The watch is based on the companies rare 1960s diver, the Captain Cook which had a short six-year life. As we've already mentioned these re-issues similarities, let's go over the small list of differences. The bezel has been brought into the 21st century with a new ceramic one fitted, the broad arrow hand remains but now keeps track of the hours rather than the previous diving specific set up of the original and in a similar ilk, the new box-shaped sapphire crystal has dropped the cyclopse previously found on 60s models and gets a sapphire upgrade. All of these design decisions from Rado seem to show that they understand that the majority of diving watch fans probably won't be dipping their re-issue in seawater. This is something I don't have an issue with and I'm sure many others won't, even the lack of a screw down crown isn't an issue, 100m water resistance is perfectly acceptable for a 21st-century lifestyle.
The Captain Cook is powered by ETA Caliber C-07.111 which is based on the ever-popular 2824-2. This movement can be found in many popular Hamilton and Tissot watches, and after a good few weeks on the wrist, I can see why. This is my first experience with this popular movement and to me, it performed near faultlessly. As watch enthusiasts, we love a good stat, and it doesn't get much better than 80 hours of power reserve, a refreshing change from the 42 hours found in my trusty Sub. The frequency comes in at 21,600 which I think suits the vintage feeling of the watch.
The Dial on the Captain Cook is a curved one with a lovely warm brown sunburst effect. The colour of the dial seems to change depending on the environment and lighting you find yourself in. This shade of brown assists the vintage aesthetic perfectly and matches the faux vintage lume. When combined with the black ceramic bezel, you may think the dial would end up being all too dark and not that visible. However, the addition of a silver chapter ring erases any concerns. The chapter ring also ticks even more boxes than just lightening the dial. Silver is a common theme with many different vintage watches making it a perfect fit for the Captain Cook. It's also one of those great little details in watches that it's only once its strapped to your wrist you notice and appreciate.
I've been enjoying the Captain Cook for about a month now and the watch has been through some thorough testing. It doesn’t look out of place sat at a desk admiring other great watches, handling this environment with ease. With that 37mm case width and only coming in at 11.1mm thickness, the watch can easily slip under a thick winter jumpers cuff, and on a thick Italian Handmade leather strap it's easy to forget you're even wearing a watch. The design of the lugs also really help with this due to their steep angle giving the illusion of the watch moulding to the wrist. The slightly faux patina-ed hands and indices combined with that playful dial ranging in brown, grey and black shades work really well in the real world. The Captain Cook not only experienced some day to day environment testing, but it also came along with me on a break to the English countryside for a few days. The watch was put through its paces with typical activities you would expect from a good old-fashioned countryside holiday. The Captain Cook was a perfect companion for the long walks across fields, hills and forest walks. This is where that smaller case size really stood out.
Personally, I didn't need or want any watch larger than the Captain Cook, all you need is something easy to read, a solid rotating bezel to time something every now and then and a quality comfy strap. Luckily, the Captain Cook suited many local pubs as well for a quick refuel midday...
When it comes to dislikes of the Captain Cook, there aren't many. In fact, there is only two. The first would have to be the relationship between the crown and the bezel. The bezel overlaps the crown just enough to make it pretty hard to unscrew the crown in the conventional way of using the side of your thumb and forefinger. The 'pincer' approach is the one to go for on this one, not a deal breaker but just a slight annoyance. This is actually where not having a screw down crown works in favour of the Captain Cook.
And number two would have to be that ceramic bezel. That deep black with grey markers looks great, however, I found in a real-life environment that the grey occasionally was lost in the black making for an unreadable bezel.
Straps for the Cook
The Captain Cook comes as standard on a dark brown leather strap in 19mm which tapers down to 18mm at the buckle. First impressions of the strap weren't great for me, the strap has a slight shine finish to it and comes with a less than impressive buckle. However, after wearing it for a few days, I realised it wasn't that bad. Of course, however, I had to change it out for one of ours, and for the RADO CC I stuck with the leather aesthetic and in fact a dark brown one at that. For me, it had to be the Simple Handmade in Dark Brown. Not only is it one of my favourite straps we offer but it also uses Italian pull up leather which means it'll look vintage and broken in with minimal wear. I'm now well over 1 month with the strap on my wrist and it's incredibly soft and comfortable. I also strapped a NATO on the RADO re-issue. I kept it simple and stuck with a Black Combat NATO with polished hardware to match the case finish. This is a really great option if you want to make the Captain Cook a little more modern looking.
The black NATO really makes that ceramic bezel pop. Be warned however that as the watch is 37mm, a NATO will make the watch wear even smaller IMO.
Should you consider the Captain Cook?
So for £1,400, the RADO Captain Cook can certainly hold its own against the strong competition in this price range from the likes of Longines, Oris and Alpina. For the price, you get a watch which is an accurate reminder of a golden age of diving, you get an incredible movement with double the average power reserve making the Captain Cook a solid contender for weekend wrist time all with subtle modern day upgrades thrown in as well. The Rado Captain Cook HyperChrome is available on RADO Online.
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